Once upon a time, there were three small children, my sister’s children. I loved making them food, even though that often consisted of serving them honey sandwiches (a true sign of my love for them, since I am a teensy bit phobic about touching honey), and pretending to be a French waitress, to make them laugh and distract them at mealtimes. These days those three children are either grown (21 and 18), or practically (15), and though I no longer have to make them honey sandwiches, I still love feeding them, because they are usually ridiculously appreciative and never leave any leftovers.
And, since I live on my own, having five hungry people descend on me, though a challenge in my teensy kitchen, is a complete joy because I can try out the sort of things, particularly for breakfast, which are a waste of time when you’re on your own. They were the first to test this granola, these pancakes and these pear turnovers. And, a few weeks ago, Isobel (big brothers both mid-exams) was, with her parents, the first to test these bloody marvellous scones, for brunch. My they’re easy, and my they’re delicious. Unfortunately, I got rather distracted by the cooking and made us 30 minutes late for the Globe but, hey, at least we had the sustenance to get us through standing for the next two hours. So dear sister, with apologies for my appalling time-keeping, these are for you.
Peter Gordon’s Parmesan and pine nut scones, with balsamic butter, prosciutto and tomato (adapted from Peter Gordon Everyday)
(The recipe says it makes 6; I only managed 4, admittedly chubby, ones)
Cupboard (or things you may already have)
baking powder, 1 tbsp
fine sea salt, large pinch
sugar, 1 tsp
sea salt flakes, ¼ tsp
pine nuts, 50g
buttermilk, 180ml plus a little extra
balsamic vinegar, 1 tbsp
prosciutto, about 8 slices
1. About an hour before cooking, depending on the weather, take 80g of the butter out of the fridge and leave it to soften.
2. When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 200ºC/180ºC/gas mark 4 and line a baking tray/sheet with baking parchment.
3. Dice the 100g cold butter and put it into a food processor or mixer. Then sift in the flour, grate in the Parmesan and pulse/mix until you have a ‘breadcrumb’ texture. It shouldn’t take very long.
4. Add the baking powder, fine sea salt and sugar and pulse/mix for a couple of seconds, just to incorporate them all.
5. Finally, add the pine nuts and buttermilk and mix again briefly until the dough comes together in a lump (don’t overmix because, as with muffins, this will make the scones tough).
6. Lightly flour a work surface, tip the dough out onto it, lightly dust the dough with a little more flour then roll it out into a piece about 2½cm thick. Cut it into quarters, brush with the remaining buttermilk and place on the baking tray.
7. Bake for about 13-15 minutes until risen and beautifully golden on top. Remove from the oven, leave on the baking tray for a minute or so, then move to a wire rack to cool.
8. Whilst the scones are baking, beat the softened butter with the balsamic vinegar (it will separate a little at first but keep going and it should emulsify again) then mix in the sea salt flakes.
9. To serve, slice the tomatoes, split the scones and spread with the balsamic butter, then fill with the tomatoes and prosciutto.