Monday, 18 January 2010

Spicy Bacon & Cheddar Scones

If I were the Pioneer Woman, I'd tell you this recipe makes my skirt fly up. If I was Deb of Smitten Kitchen, I'd tell you you'll regret every minute you wait to make this recipe, and then post a picture of my cute baby. If I worked for Word Of Mouth, I'd say that I subbed Cheddar for Gruyere as I was staying true to my working class roots. If I was living in London, I'd worry about whether I should reveal that half the ingredients were PR freebies, start writing about unctuous pork, and then get so stressed out that I'd just blog about going to Tayyabs for dinner instead.

It's not skirt wearing weather, I don't have a cute (or plain, or ugly, or any type at all) baby, I'm not that working class, and all of the ingredients were bought with my own money. So there.

I've been doing an after work craft market in a bar, so I decided to make some savoury items to capture the crowd who aren't up for a pint of beer and a chocolate cupcake. After sifting through a huge pile of cookbooks for inspiration, I settled on the spicy bacon & gruyere scones from 'Bake' by Rachel Allen.

Bacon & Cheddar Scone

I changed from gruyere to cheddar for purely economic purposes. Baking is a fairly low margin product. When you add up the number of hours of labour I put in, minus costs, I'm lucky to make anywhere near minimum wage. Every penny counts in this game. Although I did buy free range bacon, because I'm not that cheap.

The recipe was fairly simple, although I was worried that the mixture was looking rather dry after adding the butter. I'd forgotten that buttermilk came in later, which took it to the other extreme of being too wet. The recipe says not to knead the dough, which is hard, as it doesn't seem to want to come together. Although the dough is quite sticky, it is fairly robust. This makes it quite easy to scrape the scones off the counter and on to the baking tray without them falling apart.

They rose really well, and had that stretchy look around the edges that is the mark of a good scone. Most of the time I don't try more than the crumbs of stuff I've made for the stall. Eating the produce is not great hygiene, as well as depriving me of much needed profit. However, there was a small blob of dough leftover that wasn't really big enough to sell, so I baked that as well to try it.

They smelt fantastic coming out of the oven, and I could barely wait for them to be cool before eating the mini one. The outside had a bit of crunch, while the inside was soft and airy (buttermilk is one of the best ingredients for airy baking, it's just a bit tricky to find!). The cheese flavour was clear, with a subtle spicy tingle from the cayenne. When you hit a lump of bacon, it went to the next level of deliciousness. The pre-cooking followed by baking meant that the bacon was crispy, and the fat had rendered in to the surrounding dough. My limited grasp of English vocabulary is not enough to describe how great these scones are.

Airy texture, with bacon peeking out.

Spicy Bacon & Cheddar Scones (From 'Bake')
Makes 10-20 depending on cutter size

450g plain flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt
30g cold butter
110g bacon, cooked and finely chopped (this cooks down to less than 110g, use more if you love bacon)
110g cheddar, finely grated (use gruyere if not being cheap)
1 egg
375ml buttermilk (or milk)

1) Preheat oven to 220C, Gas 7
2) Sift the flour, baking soda, cayenne and salt in a large bowl. Rub in the butter until it looks like fine breadcrumbs. Mix in the bacon and cheese.
3) Combine the buttermilk and the egg in a jug, and add it to the dry ingredients.
4) Stir until the mixture forms a dough. Turn it out on to a floured surface, and gently fold to fully incorporate all the ingredients.
5) Roll the dough out to about 2cm thick, and cut out the scones. I used a 3inch cutter to make monster scones, but you could use a smaller cutter, or even cut the dough in to squares.
6) Place the scones on a floured baking tray and bake for 10-16 minutes (depending on size). Cool on a wire rack for as long as you can bear, and then eat warm.

While these are best eaten straight away, they can be reheated at 160c for 6 minutes, although this does make the outside a little too crunchy. Sprinkle with water before reheating to minimise this.


Chele said...

Thank you for putting a smile on my face Jenny - today's post is just the tonic I've needed lol

Lizzie said...

I'm a bit baffled as to what your opening paragraph is all about...

These look great. I had that recipe bookmarked too. You can make your own buttermilk by adding a hefty squeeze of lemon juice to milk - it has the same effect i.e. the acidity activating the dough.

Nora said...

Yum! And it's another fantastic recipe from 'Bake' - I am so impressed with that book. Though obviously it was also your amazing cookery skills that produced such beautiful scones! :D

Sarah, Maison Cupcake said...

Ha ha, your first paragraph has totally nailed all those blogs!! I have noticed a lot of London blogs seem to have more content about eating in restaurants than cooking but I don't get out much because of the cute baby! Rachel Allen Bake has got to be my most used book of last 2 yrs. I think it even knocks socks off Nigella's Domestic Goddess and I'm huge Nigella fan yet less of a Rachel fan so this is true praise from me. I was only thinking the other day that I hadn't made any savoury scones for ages and they'd be just the thing for cute baby's lunch box at pre-school.

Jenny said...

Chele - Glad you enjoyed the post!

Lizzie - Luckily I live near a couple of good delis, so I haven't had any trouble getting buttermilk recently. I used to only able to get it in the health food shop which was a TREK.

Nora: Thank you! "Bake" is definitely shaping up to one of my favourite books.

Sarah: Glad it made you smile, it's just funny as a reader when you notice the same phrases and topics coming up again and again! Quite agree that Rachel is less likeable than Nigella, but her recipes are very reliable.