Inherited Bakes

Cheese, Chive and Mustard Scones

Cheese, Chive and Mustard Scones

The weather in London is bloody awful at the moment.  Barely a day goes by when I don’t get caught in a rainstorm and, as a result, my motivation to go out in the evening has somewhat diminished.  After being caught in a torrential downpour on Saturday I managed to drag myself out for a few drinks in Peckham.  After a couple of delicious Kir Royales at the Peckham Refreshment Rooms and some late-night cocktails and hilarious people-watching at Peckham Springs, I was very glad I did.  Since then, however, I have been coming straight home from work, changing into my pyjamas and hibernating.  Today is the most dismal day of all – the rain has not stopped all day and a slightly regrettable trip out on to the soggy streets of Fitzrovia has left me with damp jeans.  A most unpleasant feeling.

Tonight is the first Band of Bakers event of 2013, which means leaving the warm bosom of my couch yet again.  I am lucky to live so close to the venue and am looking forward to seeing everybody as it has been a while since our last event, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to force myself out.  The theme for this evening’s event is ‘Inherited Bakes’, meaning a recipe that has either been passed down through the family, or given to you by somebody else.  I was fortunate enough to have a grandmother who taught me to bake, so I have many items in my repertoire that were handed down to me.  Her tea loaf, for example, is something I truly treasure.  I toyed with the idea of making the bread pudding that was handed down from her own mother, but as the recipe was never written down, it will take me a while to figure it out completely.  Instead, I decided to make scones, which we would often bake together when I visited her house.  My job was always to rub the butter into the flour, never to add the liquid as I always seemed to add too much and ruin the batch.  Most often she would make savoury scones with cheese and sweet scones with currants which would always be spread with some amazing salted butter bought from the farm shop down the road that, sadly, no longer exists.  For my ‘Inherited Bake’, I have updated these two recipes and have created a savoury cheese, chive and mustard scone and a sweet currant and fennel seed scone.  The recipe for the former is below.

Cheese, Chive and Mustard Scones

  • 250g low-fat plain yoghurt
  • 25ml whole milk
  • 15g caster sugar
  • 400g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • ½ tsp fine salt
  • 1½ tsp mustard powder
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 50g salted butter
  • 300g strong cheddar, grated
  • 3 tbsp snipped chives
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Twist of black pepper

Preheat the oven to 220ºc / 425ºf / gas 7.  Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper.

In a small bowl, mix together the yoghurt, milk and sugar and set aside.

Sift the flour, salt, mustard powder, cream of tartare and bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl.  Rub in the butter with your fingers until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.  Stir in the cheese and chives.

Using a palette knife, stir in the yoghurt mixture until a sticky dough is formed.  Use the moisture in the dough to pick up any loose bits of flour from the bottom of the bowl.  Turn out on to a floured work surface and pat into a round approximately 4cm thick – try not to knead the mixture as this will create a tough texture.  Cut the scones out using a metal cutter and place them on the baking tray.  This mixture should yield about nine scones, but it will depend on the size of the cutter you use.  Brush with the beaten egg and grind a little black pepper on the top and bake in the oven for 18-20 minutes until golden brown and risen.


Burger League: Burgers and Cocktails

The 'Mac Mountain' Burger complete with a wheel of mac 'n' cheese (yes, a wheel)

The ‘Mac Mountain’ Burger complete with a wheel of mac ‘n’ cheese (yes, a wheel)

The Restaurant: Burgers and Cocktails, 35 James Street, London W1U 1EA.

The Hungry Ones:

Left to Right:  Gemma (The Boozy Rouge), Madeleine (Cocktail Lover)

Left to Right: Gemma (The Boozy Rouge), Madeleine (Cocktail Lover)

Gemma ordered:  Sloppy Joe burger, onion rings, margarita
Madeleine ordered:  Mac Mountain burger, sweet potato fries, mojito

The Scores:

So here’s what happened at the weekend:  After a long afternoon of shopping with my friend, we ended up ravenous near Marble Arch.  My excitement that Roti Chai was a mere five-minute walk away was short-lived as she declared that she did not want Indian food.  Fine.  So instead we walked towards James Street and Patty & Bun where there is a damn good burger and not a thali in sight.  There was, however, an enormous queue.  Just as I contemplated joining it, the heavens opened into a monumental thunderstorm that sent us running into the nearest restaurant that looked like it might have a free table.  This, inevitably, was where it all started to go wrong.  The place we ran into was Burgers and Cocktails.

Despite having a well-researched wishlist of burgers in both London and the UK, I had never heard of Burgers and Cocktails.  Had some unknown gem somehow escaped me?  Not exactly.  Firstly, the place was full of children and, consequently, a chorus of screams.  Secondly, the waiter was darting around the restaurant with such speed that it took us a while to get noticed for a table and even longer to get a menu.  To be honest, this was all forgivable as I was grateful to be somewhere dry with a drinks menu, but what followed was another story.

Margarita, or children's drink? You decide...

Margarita, or children’s drink? You decide…

The margarita I ordered was unceremoniously plonked on my table in a glass beaker.  With ice.  I get that restaurants are trying out new ways to serve their alcohol – cocktails in jam jars and wine in whisky glasses etc., but is it too much, once in a while to get the right glass? Also, I’m pretty sure margaritas aren’t supposed to be sweetened with agave.  Not great for a place that has ‘cocktails’ in its very name.  Madeleine’s mojito was acceptable.  I ordered the Sloppy Joe burger (mixed cheese, chipotle beef chilli, jalapeno relish and sour cream) which arrived medium-rare and pink in the middle, as ordered.  Actually the burger itself was not too bad.  I could not detect any hint of chipotle in the chilli, but the generous amount of jalapenos made up for it by giving it an enormous kick.  The bread was dry and unappetising (yawn).  Madeleine ordered a Mac Mountain which came with the most curious of toppings: a mac ‘n’ cheese ‘wheel’.  This was a portion of mac ‘n’ cheese, shaped into a disc, dipped in breadcrumbs and fried.  When eaten alone, it was actually not that bad, when eaten with the burger it was a little disastrous. The onion rings and sweet potato fries we ordered on the side were surprisingly alright.

The Sloppy Joe burger

The Sloppy Joe burger

I later discovered that the restaurant was owned by the chain Giraffe, which went some way to explain the abundance of children despite having a name that was 50% booze.  It is obvious that the chain is aiming to make a bit of extra cash by jumping on the gourmet fast-food bandwagon – if they brought something new to the market, fine, but this is a rip off of every other place in town.  The strategic positioning across from Patty & Bun, one of London’s most celebrated burger joints, is presumably to pick up its queue-weary diners.  My advice:  if you’re ever in James Street and can’t be bothered to queue at Patty & Bun, walk the extra five minutes and go to MEATLiquor.

About Burger League.