Monday, 31 August 2015

Flaky Cream Cheese Scones




So, that was quite a while between posts.  I am not going to do my usual post catch up where I post an entry for all the weeks I missed all on one day.  Probably because my baking hasn't been entirely aligned with the Alpha Bakers.  Who knew summer would be full of loads more things than baking to someone other than Marie's schedule.

I think I am going to best remember July and August 2015 as the summer of Lemon Drizzle.  Isaac has a serious cake crush on Lemon Drizzle, it was his birthday cake way back in July, it was our annual glamping cake and then I think I have made it every second week since.  It also prompted the new purchase of the microplane lemon zester and relegation to the bottom of the drawer for the old one.

I think I am now back to scheduled programming.  There was no request for Lemon Drizzle this weekend which cleared the way for the Flaky Cream Cheese Scones.  I have never been brilliant at scones.  Usually pretty simple - flour, fat, milk, baking powder, a bit of salt and then a light touch.  I think it was the last ingredient that always failed me.  And also, you need to know your dough.

This is when I wish that my parents hadn't moved thousands of miles from my Grandmother.  Knowing exactly when the dough is right means that you have to make a lot of scones.  And the best way to make a lot of scones is to live on a farm and have a big family and random workers to feed.  Scones were always on the "menu" for soup lunches, post dinner dessert and smoko for the shearing crews and other farm workers.  I am not sure my grandmother was ever in pursuit of the best scone: the scone was the standby staple to feed a peckish crowd, just a vehicle for slabs of butter and jam, cream only if you were being a bit posh.  Cream was for cake, not for scones.  I am not sure if that is a New Zealand thing, or just a thing about living on a farm miles from the nearest store.  

I think my grandmother would have tutted at Rose's recipe.  Butter, flour, salt, baking powder - yes, no question.  Cream cheese, cream whipped to soft peaks - tut tut tut.  Dried cranberries or blueberries - tut tut tut tut tut!  Anyway, I didn't quite have the exact ingredients this afternoon as I readied these for tea and scone with a friend.  So I will lead you through the slight variations.

The three headed monster terrorising China Town


Charles Petillon's Heartbeat at Covent Garden - maybe more amazing whilst not trailing the three headed monster...
The three headed monster and I were in Covent Garden yesterday checking out this installation by Charles Petillon  and buying school shoes for the new school year when we happened upon a street giveaway of Philadelphia Whipped Cream Cheese.  I think that was the funniest thing I have seen in quite a while.  People walking along eating tubs of whipped cream cheese with a plastic spoon.  There were some very weird expressions as people realised it was a salty savoury cheese, rather than some a new Phily Ice Cream.  I think the lack of rubbish bins in London probably contributed to the number of people forced to eat the entire tub.  I just shoved my three tubs in my handbag and it was this whipped, gelatin stabilised cream cheese which ended up in my scone.  The best bit being the tub provided the perfect amount.

The other thing I didn't have was the cream.  Well, not real cream.  In the UK they have this stuff called Elmlea.  It is akin to margarine masquerading as butter.  This is fake cream, supposedly healthier for you but with so many ingredients and a shelf life to last into the next century you actually question whether the lower saturated fats are *actually* offset by the extended list of all the other rubbish.  Needless to say, I am not a fan.  The reason I end up with this pretender is because I sent my Mum, visiting here from New Zealand to buy cream.  In New Zealand there is no such thing as single cream or double cream, so I duly told Mum to buy double cream.  This counterfeit cream - dairy cream alternative sits in the cream section and it is the only one with bright packaging.  My mother, the bower bird/barracuda/magpie, spotted the word Double and ticked it off her list.  It has sat in quiet contemplation in my fridge ever since.  Given the cream wasn't going to be the main feature of these scones, I set it free.  The strangest thing is that it didn't really whip to soft peaks... until *nature* took its course after it sat on the bench for about 15 minutes at room temperature and firmed up some more...

If you are familiar with making scones, then you will be well acquainted with the method...


Cut the cream cheese into the dry ingredients with knives and then rub in the butter so it looks flaky.  Then the cranberries/blueberries are stirred in, followed by the cream whipped to soft peaks.  This then makes the scone dough.  Mine was pretty wet and sticky so I added in a bit more flour (sorry Rose!)  I gave myself permission to do this given the substitution of the wetter cream cheese and the fake cream...

Then Rose has you briefly knead the dough and then press it into a 9 inch cake tin.  Which is pretty clever really.  The thing that also struggle with when it comes to scones is how high they should be.  The 9 inch tin means that Rose keeps control of the height - clever!  Not that I am calling Rose a control freak.  Not at all.



Then into a hot oven to bake for about 20 minutes.  I went to the full 20 minutes, when I probably should have only baked to about 17 minutes.  Mine are looking a little like they spent a bit too long in the heat...

I suspect Rose would have liked them like this because they had a little crunch to them.  I think I prefer them with less crunch.  Speaking of crunch, there is a section following on from this recipe about making scone tops which Rose loves because they have more crunch...I don't get that.  For me the scone is about the pillowy softness, not the crunch.  Also, Rose, don't worry about the crunchy toppers - just bake them for 3 minutes too long!!

My friend arrived and we lamented our respective summer weight gains as we ate our way through three scones between the two of us.  In a token effort to calorie economising, we just split them  horizontally in half and topped with butter and strawberry jam and held back the cream (see how much better Elmlea is for you - it makes you not want cream!).  The final wash up of this long and rambling post is that the scones get a tick of approval.  I am not a fan of the dried cranberries mixed through - for both she and me, these would have been better to be a plumper dried fruit, like a raisin or a date or even a sultana.

Gym membership starts tomorrow.  Yes, really.  Attendance and participation at said gym to follow soon after.


4 comments:

  1. "Tut tut tut"!!! I think I would have liked your granny very much! I love how your twins book mark your eldest son. I feel I must apologize for that dreadful whipped Philadelphia cream cheese crossing the Atlantic and infiltrating the UK. It's dreadful stuff. It's quite difficult to find cream cheese made without all the gum thickeners and so much better when I do. What is the Lemon Drizzle Cake? Is this a Rose recipe that I've forgotten about? If not, please post. Clearly your boys know a good thing.

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  2. You know, these scones would be really good with lemon drizzle.

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  3. I too baked it longer..so it has a harder/crispier top..:)

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  4. I love the three headed monster. I also love the teapot in your photo. I'm thinking of these as American scones so there's no need for tutting. I found these surprisingly delicious although they didn't rise as much as I thought they would.

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