French Onion Soup Scones
Since my weekend in Toulouse, I have been pondering making some French-inspired scones, mainly so I can boast a bit more about my weekend in Toulouse (as previously boasted about here). Obviously scones are not a particularly French food item, which meant that I was bound by no restrictions, other than the exceedingly high culinary standards of the French. Uh oh. Still, it left me free to be creative. The problem was that I am not a meat eater, and most French specialities come with a pretty high body count. And besides, my wallet and my conscience won’t stretch to Foie Gras scones!
Then we got a cold, and the Official Taster’s maman suggested we put onions by the bed to cure it. I have to admit we didn’t, but her suggestion did give me the idea of making French onion soup, which inevitably led to today’s recipe: French Onion Soup Scones.
I improvised a French onion soup by boiling up and then simmering chopped onions with herbes de provence, a stock cube, a bit of sugar and some salt and pepper. I also added a bit of white wine, making these my second alcoholic scones after the Pimms and Lemonade Scones of August – my first ever post. The wine was from New Zealand not France, unfortunately, but beggars can’t be choosers.
While the soup was cooling, I mixed together 125g of self-raising flour and 100g of wholemeal flour with half a teaspoon of baking powder. I rubbed in 50g of butter to make breadcrumbs then stirred in about 30g of grated cheese. I then tipped in small amounts of the soup, complete with onion chunks, mixing to make a dough. All straightforward so far, but here comes the clever part.
The best thing about French onion soup (as well as all scones and life) is the cheese – melted and stringy inside and grilled and crispy on top. Grilled and crispy on top is simple – I just had to top each scone with a bit of grated cheese, along with some more onion pieces. But I wanted melted and stringy as well. Here’s how I did it – there may have been a simpler way.
I rolled out the dough to about half the thickness I would normally use, then used a large cookie cutter to cut out two rounds. Then I cut a small slice of mozzarella , placed it in the middle of one round, put the other one on top and used a smaller cutter to cut out a smaller round to just cut out the middle. This ensured that the top and the bottom were smooshed together nicely and wouldn’t separate when they rose, and also that the mozzarella was trapped inside and couldn’t escape, so that when it baked it would go gooey rather than crispy. Once I had used up all the dough, I sprinkled the tops of my four and a half scones with the grated cheddar and onion and put in the oven at 200°c for about 15 minutes.
By the way, I do know that for an authentic French onion soup I should have used Comté or something similar, but fancy cheese is hard to find in Dublin and let’s not forget I wasn’t well. (Don’t worry, I washed my hands.)
They smelt great while they were baking, and the mozzarella behaved itself and didn’t leak out the sides, but I was still a little anxious when I handed one on a plate to the official taster. I have to say I didn’t quite get the stringiness I had imagined when I cut the scone open (maybe I didn’t use enough cheese: less stingy = more stringy), and the dough was a little bit soggy from the mozzarella – I had drained it but I probably should have soaked up some of the extra moisture with a kitchen towel. But all in all they tasted fine. The official taster said that while you couldn’t quite distinguish the onion, you could definitely taste something more than cheese, and he liked them a lot. So that’s fine.
There we have it, French Onion Soup Scones. They could equally be called Cheese and Onion Scones, but that wouldn’t be very French, and wouldn’t give me an excuse to show off some of my holiday photos…
I’m sure I’ll be experimenting with more French flavours when I branch out further into the realm of cheese scones. For now, I’m looking forward to seeing what I can come up with for Bonfire Night. Watch this space!