Lemon and white chocolate scones

Lemon and white chocolate sconesI’m usually a stickler for scones as they should be – either fruit or plain, buttered, spread with jam and with a dollop of cream on top (especially when it comes to afternoon tea!). But I do enjoy a flavoured scone, too – and this is what I was hankering after when I decided to make these lemon and white chocolate scones.

Scones are really easy to make, but you need to follow a couple of rules to make sure they come out just right. One rule is to avoid over-mixing the initial scone mix if you can, and another is to avoid over-kneading the mix when turning it into a manageable dough. Another is to not add *too* much flour when rolling out and cutting the scones, if you can, so your dough stays nicely moist. Follow all of these, and you should end up with some delightfully light and well-risen scones!

Lemon and white chocolate scones
I added the lemon flavour through finely grated lemon zest. I only used one lemon, but I think two would add a bit more of a tang – the lemon in my scones was quite subtle! I just used bog standard supermarket white chocolate, making to sure to sample some to check it was *just* right (ahem).

I brushed the tops of my scones with milk before baking, but you can also do it with beaten egg for some nicely shiny tops.

I ate my first scone while it was warm from the oven (which meant the chocolate was a bit gooey!) and without any accompaniments, but subsequent scones were enjoyed with butter and strawberry jam. I didn’t have any cream to hand, but that’s very much optional with these, anyway!

These lemon and white chocolate scones would be lovely as part of a cream tea or afternoon tea with a difference, perhaps in the spring or summer, considering the flavours. Do try them!

Lemon and white chocolate scones

Lemon and white chocolate scones recipe

Makes around 14 scones

  • 280g self-raising flour, plus extra for rolling out the dough
  • 70g cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 55g white chocolate, chopped (or use chocolate chips)
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 150ml milk
  • Milk or 1 beaten egg, to glaze

To serve:

  • Softened butter
  • Raspberry or strawberry jam
  • Clotted cream

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 7/220C/425F. Line a baking tray with baking parchment, or grease the tray with butter.
  2. Sift the flour into a large bowl. Add the butter and rub it into the flour with your fingertips until the mix resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  3. Stir in the sugar and white chocolate.
  4. Stir the zest into the milk, then slowly add the milk to the flour mixture and stir until you get a soft but manageable dough (you may not need all of the milk). Do not overmix.
  5. Lightly flour a work surface and tip the dough out of the bowl on to it. Sprinkle a little more flour on top and roll the dough out until it’s around 2.5cm thick.
  6. Dip a fluted cutter into some flour (I used a 58mm cutter) and cut the scones out of the dough, transferring them to the baking tray (make sure they’re well spaced out – you may need two trays, or bake in batches).
  7. Roll out the remaining dough and repeat until all of the dough has been used up.
  8. Brush the tops with either milk or beaten egg, and bake the scones in the oven for 10-12 minutes, until risen and golden.
  9. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Serve sliced with butter, jam and cream, if you like.

Orange and date muffins

Orange and date muffinsI had a sudden urge one night to bake something reminiscent of sticky toffee pudding. After looking through some of my saved recipes, I decided to adapt a recipe for prune muffins by making a few tweaks to create these orange and date muffins.

I’m going to be upfront here: they went a bit wrong. I managed to completely forget about the sugar until the muffins were in the oven! Luckily, I realised only a few seconds after I put them in, so I quickly whisked them out again and attempted to mix the sugar into each muffin case.

I wasn’t completely successful – it was difficult to make sure the sugar was completely mixed in, so when they came out, they had slightly caramelised tops from the sugar that didn’t dissolve into the mix. It sounds a bit weird, but (much to my relief) the caramelised tops actually meant the muffins were rather nice!

Orange and date muffins
There were still little pockets in each muffin that were a bit more… savoury than the rest, but the dates really helped to add some sweetness, and the orange zest and cinnamon was a nice distraction.

I took the muffins into work, and no one would have known I’d had a disaster in the kitchen if I hadn’t told them, so I think I got away with it!

I would recommend that you do actually beat the sugar into the muffin mix *before* spooning it into the cases, but if you also want some nice caramelised tops, all you have to do is sprinkle a bit more sugar on top – I think demerara would be perfect for this! See my recipe below for full details…

Orange and date muffins

Orange and date muffins recipe

Adapted from this recipe.

Makes 12 muffins

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 250ml milk
  • 125ml sunflower oil
  • 80g soft dark brown or dark muscovado sugar
  • 285g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 0.5 tsp salt
  • 0.5 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Zest of one orange
  • 115g pitted dates, chopped
  • 1-2 tbsp demerara sugar (optional)

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6/200C. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases, or grease thoroughly.
  2. Mix together the egg, milk and oil in a measuring jug, then mix in the sugar. Set aside.
  3. Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon into a large bowl. Stir in the orange zest.
  4. Make a well in the middle of the flour mix and pour the liquid mix into it. Stir until just combined (do not overmix, otherwise you’ll end up with horrible, rubbery muffins).
  5. Fold in the dates.
  6. Spoon the mix into the muffin tin. Sprinkle the demerara sugar over the top of the mix in each case, if using.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes until risen and browned on top. Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Caraway seed cake

Caraway seed cakeI’ve been meaning to make this Victorian caraway seed cake ever since I got my hands on Paul Hollywood’s British Baking recipe book. There’s nothing much to shout about in terms of huge flavours and spectacular presentation; it’s just a simple, old-fashioned cake to have with an afternoon brew – but that’s exactly what appeals to me about it!

The cake is very similar to a Madeira cake in terms of the texture and flavour of the base sponge. The crumb looks very dense, but it’s actually very light and not at all onerous to eat. The addition of caraway seeds (which have a citrusy, aniseed flavour), lemon zest, brandy and nutmeg, however, make this a different beast to your standard Madeira cake.

Caraway seed cake
The cake should have a flat top after it’s baked, but mine ended up with a rather spectacular peak in the middle, which I’m just going to put down to my uneven oven:

Caraway seed cake
Isn’t that rather impressive?!

Anyway, overall I would say that this cake gets a definite thumbs up from me. It does sound a bit dull, but it’s anything but. The aniseed flavour is really unusual, and the lemon and nutmeg really do prevent the cake from being a one-flavour wonder. If you like old-fashioned cakes, you can’t go far wrong with a caraway seed cake!

Caraway seed cake
I can’t find the recipe I used online, as I got it from the book, but I think you could take your pick of any of the other seed cake recipes out there and simply add lemon zest and nutmeg if they’re not already in there. This recipe looks like a good starting point!

Fresh blueberry flapjacks

Fresh blueberry flapjacksI was feeling a little bored last Sunday evening, so, of course, I decided to bake something. I just wanted to make something quick and easy, but also something vaguely good for you. As I had some blueberries in the fridge, I decided to go with these incredibly simple but delicious fresh blueberry flapjacks.

I found the recipe online on the Vegetarian Living website, and followed it to the letter – sort of. I didn’t have quite enough oats, so I made up the difference with oatmeal. I don’t think the substitution made much of a difference to the flavour or texture of the flapjacks!

Fresh blueberry flapjacks
I really like the use of lemon zest in this recipe – lemon and blueberry is such a classic combination, and goes really well with the sweet oats.

Fresh blueberry flapjacks
My fresh blueberry flapjacks went down a storm when I took them into the office the next day. Ok, so this recipe is only half healthy – fresh fruit and oats and oats are all very well, but when you sugar, butter and golden syrup the bad-for-you foods seem to cancel out the good-for-you ones… oh well! The flapjacks are still super tasty and very easy to make, and surely they’re still a better option than a sponge cake bursting with cream and jam…?!