Time for tea

cream tea

A bright idea came into Alice’s head. “Is that the reason so many tea-things are put out here?” she asked.
“Yes, that’s it,” said the Hatter with a sigh: “it’s always tea-time, and we’ve no time to wash the things between whiles.”
“Then you keep moving round, I suppose?” said Alice.
“Exactly so,” said the Hatter: “as the things get used up.”

From Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Caroll
Chapter VII ‘A Mad Tea-Party’

Don’t you just love the idea of a perpetual tea party? I have had a thing for a proper old-fashioned afternoon tea ever since I was a child, when I would read about Alice and her curious friends and then take tea with my dolls using my miniature china tea set. Continue reading “Time for tea”

A taste of Somerset in a scone

cheese and apple scones

This post originally featured in the Wells Journal on Thursday 28 November 2013.

I used to be something of a purist when it came to scones. The whole scone experience was more about the indulgence of the clotted cream and jam, rather than the scone itself. If I was being slightly adventurous, I might throw a few sultanas into the scone mixture.
But since a) having children and b) becoming a food blogger, a new scone-shaped world has opened up to me, particularly the seemingly endless possibilities of the savoury scone.

Savoury scones are a perfect standby snack for little ones (and adults) and I often make them for the children’s lunchboxes too. Courgette and cheese scones are favourites, as are butternut squash and red onion.

Think of Somerset foods and Cheddar cheese and apples will no doubt come to mind. I know, I know – the produce of Somerset is so much more varied than this ubiquitous pairing, but you have to admit our apples and cheese are world-class. If you were at the Wells Food Festival back in September, you’ll have seen the crowds around the cheese stall; all due to the fine reputation of our local cheeses.

And what better to enjoy alongside your cheese than a crisp, flavourful apple. We are so lucky to have such a wonderful variety available to us here, although we should remember that more than 50 per cent of Somerset’s orchards have disappeared over the last 50 years. This is something a number of local growers and projects are working hard to turn around.


So, for a taste of Somerset in a scone, how about a tasty cheese and apple scone, using a mature local Cheddar and a generous sprinkling of fresh sage? They’re perfect cold in your packed lunch but even better served warm from the oven, with a little salted butter and some extra slices of cheese or maybe some cold meats.

cheese and apple scones

Cheddar cheese, apple and sage scones

Makes around 12

300g self-raising Flour
½ tsp baking powder
75g butter
125g mature Cheddar, grated
handful of fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
1 large eating apple, cored and grated
1 medium free range egg, lightly beaten
150ml milk

Preheat the oven to 200ºC / gas mark 6.

Grease a large baking sheet and cover with baking parchment.

Pour the flour and baking powder into a large bowl and mix together. Chop the butter into cubes and rub it into the flour using your finger tips until it resembles breadcrumbs.

Stir two-thirds of the cheese into the mixture, along with the sage and apple.

Make a well in the middle of the mixture and pour in the beaten egg and milk. Use a knife to bring together into a soft dough. If it is too wet, add a little more flour.

Lightly flour the work top. Roll out the dough to a 2cm thickness and use a pastry cutter to cut out your scones. Keep re-rolling the dough until it is all used up.

Place the scones on the baking sheet spaced well apart. Sprinkle the scones with the remaining grated cheese and bake for around 15 minutes until golden.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool a little before eating.

cheese and apple scones

These scones are an ideal lunchbox filler and so I am entering them into this month’s Family Foodies challenge, which I just happen to be co-hosting with Lou over at Eat Your Veg. The theme this month is Lunchbox Ideas.


As the scones also feature fresh sage, I’m entering them into November’s Cooking with Herbs challenge, hosted of course by Karen at Lavender & Lovage.


And finally, as these scones feature local West Country Cheddar cheese and apples, I’m entering them into the Shop Local blogging challenge at Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary.


Courgette and cheese scones

With both of my girls now at school and with me working away from home most of the week, keeping the contents of our lunch boxes vaguely interesting is an ongoing challenge. Normally I go for set staples like rolls, pasta or rice salads, pitta bread and hummus – that kind of thing. From time to time though I do like to bake something a little bit different, but something which isn’t too much of a departure from the norm that the kids leave it untouched.

These courgette and cheese scones fit the bill perfectly. Tasty and moist, they are the ideal finger food and are packed full of goodness. Ideal served cold from a lunch box or warm straight from the oven. And they aren’t too much of a faff to make. A definite winner in my book.

Courgette and cheese scones

Makes 12

225g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
45g soft butter
115g Cheddar cheese, grated
1 courgette, grated
1 carrot, grated
2 spring onions, finely chopped
handful of fresh herbs, chopped (I used thyme and oregano)
salt and pepper
2 tbsp creme fraiche
60ml milk

Preheat the oven to 200°C / gas mark 6 and grease a baking sheet with a little butter.

Sieve the flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl. Rub the butter in the flour until it looks like fine breadcrumbs.

Add the cheese, carrot, courgette, spring onion, herbs, salt and pepper. Combine and form a well in the middle. Pour in the creme fraiche and milk and mix together to create a sticky dough.

Lightly knead the dough on a floured surface and then form into 12 scone shapes and place on the baking sheet.

Bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown. Cool a little on a wire rack before serving.

These scones can be frozen, or can be kept  in an airtight container for up to five days.

Pistachio scones for a Mothering Sunday tea time treat

My mother’s favourite tea time treat is a plate of warm scones served with jam and cream. So when I started pondering on what recipe to post for Mothering Sunday, I really didn’t have to think for too long.

Unfortunately since my mum lives in Spain I won’t be able to bake these for her tomorrow, but I send these pictures to her with love and the promise I’ll make them for her the next time she’s over.

Until recently I’d only ever baked plain scones. I felt the whole scone experience was more about the indulgent toppings rather than the scone itself, which seemed to me essentially a carrier.

But as an avid fan of the Lavender & Lovage and What Kate Baked food blogs, I’ve realised this month just how versatile scones can be. The theme for their March Tea Time Treats challenge is scones and I’ve already heard on the Twittersphere of some delicious-sounding entries, from white chocolate to feta, tomato and caramelised onion.

So I’ve put my thinking cap on and this is what I’ve come up with: dainty little pistachio scones seasoned with lots of black pepper for a slightly spicy, slightly Asian taste, which feel like they could easily have been part of a tea time spread enjoyed by the old colonials back in the days of the Raj. The pepper works particularly well with strawberry jam.

I like to make little diddy scones, the kind you can consume in a couple of bites. Or if you’re my husband, in a single mouthful. I used a 4cm circular pastry cutter for the scones pictured here.

And the secret to the perfect scone, according to Delia whose recipe this is based on, is to make sure you don’t roll out your scone dough too thinly. It must be at least 2cm thick.

Pistachio scones

Makes about 12

225g self-raising flour
40g soft butter
80g shelled pistachio nuts, roughly chopped
A pinch of salt and plenty of black pepper
150ml milk

Preheat oven to 220°C Gas 7.

Sift the flour into a mixing bowl and rub in the butter using your fingertips until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.

Stir in the pistachio nuts, salt and a good few grounds of black pepper. Remember these scones are meant to have a good peppery kick so don’t hold back.

Use a knife to gradually mix in the milk. Then use your hands to pull the mixture together into a soft dough, adding a little more milk if it seems too dry.

Place the dough onto a floured board and roll it out until it is no less than 2cm thick. Cut out your scones using your pastry cutter and place on a greased baking sheet.

Dust the top of each one with a little flour and bake for 12-15 minutes until they are golden brown. Cool on a wire rack and eat while they are still slightly warm. Serve with jam and whipped or clotted cream. Heavenly.

So what’s your favourite scone recipe? I’d love to hear it. And why not enter it into the March Tea Time Treats challenge as well? You’ve got until 28 March to take part.