Last week I was off to see the Barber family, who make Cheddar cheese down in Somerset. I’ve been to see them before but, as they are the guardians of the last traditional cheese cultures, I wanted to talk to their cultures expert (I’m not very scientific so need such things explaining to me at least three times, preferably with pictures). I thought it only polite to take something suitably cheesy with me, so opted for scones, made with their 1833 Vintage Reserve Cheddar. There’s nothing worse than a cheese scone that isn’t cheesy so the 1833 is a good choice, punchy and tasty as it is.
Living in London, you can’t find wild garlic anywhere unless you are prepared to re-mortgage your house and head for Borough Market. Wild leeks, though, grow in abundance if you know where to look. In my case, it’s in my friend’s garden round the corner. Their proper name is Three-cornered Leeks because the stem has a ridge down it that makes a wonky triangle shape when you cut them (as illustrated badly in the photo below, if you peer closely). Indeed, forage-purists will argue that the true ‘wild leek’ is a different, much rarer plant altogether. But it’s easier to write ‘wild leeks’. So there. You could equally use wild garlic, chives etc.
This recipe will make about 16-18 scones.
450g self raising flour
Pinch of salt
2 tsp baking powder
110g butter, cut into cubes
200g Cheddar cheese, grated (use a good vintage Cheddar, not some mild, non-cheese-tasting stuff)
50g of wild leeks (or you could use wild garlic, normal leeks, chives or red onions)
1 tbsp olive oil
200ml milk, plus extra for glazing
Line two baking trays and pre-heat them in an oven at 200/180 fan assisted/Gas Mark 6. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, salt and baking powder.
Wash the wild leeks and finely chop the stalks. In a small frying pan, heat the olive oil and sauté the leeks until they are soft.
Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. Mix through the grated cheese and wild leeks with your fingers until they are evenly distributed.
Make a well in the centre of the mixture and gradually add the milk, bringing it all together quickly to make a dough. Don’t over-knead the dough or the scones will be too dense. Roll out the mixture on a floured surface and, using a cutter, make scones that are about 2cm thick.
Put them on the hot baking tray, glaze with milk and bake for 10-15 minutes until them are coloured and cooked through. Serve warm with salty butter.