Fig Scones and the Official Taster’s First Words
I believe in my last post I may have made vague mutterings about creating some kind of fromage-ful scone after my trip to France. Well, for those of you who have been holding your breath in anticipation for the last two months, here it is.
Except that it’s not exactly a cheese scone. Instead it’s a scone designed to perfectly showcase my newest cheesy discovery (thanks to my parents), Pié d’Angloys – a delicious, creamy, ‘better-than-Brie’ (direct quote from said parents) cow’s-milk cheese.
The Official Taster carried two boxes of the stuff back from France in his backpack, and we’ve been putting up with a rather stinky fridge in order to eke it out as long as possible. While waxing lyrical about its gooey goodness (and possible curative properties) to all and sundry, I was sent this recipe for Fig and Pié d’Angloys Gratin by the OT’s mother. Well that sounded delicious and all, but unfortunately it didn’t have a scone in sight.
The figs did catch my eye, however. Cheese and fruit is a heavenly combination that hits all the taste buds and makes them sigh – a cracker topped with slices of apple and cheddar, a roughly torn baguette spread with Brie and strawberry jam, pineapple on a cheesy pizza… not banana though, I know my limits.
I’d never cooked with fig before, or really even eaten it apart from in Fig Rolls, so you might think that I would opt for the safety of using a recipe. Ha! How little you know me…
Now this may come as a surprise to you, but Ireland is not blessed with a fig-growing climate, so the best I could find were these dried figs from Marks & Spencer. Even on a floral plate, it’s pretty hard to make them look, well, pretty.
I stirred 150g wholewheat flour, 120g self-raising flour, 1tsp baking powder, a pinch of salt and about 2tbsp low-fat sweetener together in a bowl, before rubbing in about 75g butter. ‘Wholewheat and figs?’ I hear you gasp, ‘That’s an awful lot of fibre’.
I then wussed out a bit and divided the mixture in two. To the first half I mixed in enough milk to make a dough then put in a handful or two of chopped fig. To the second half I added a bit of both powdered and crystallised ginger as well as the fig – ginger makes everything taste good. I cut out rounds from both mixtures and baked them for about 15 minutes at 200°c.
I have to say I was a little nervous when it came to trying them with the cheese. Could I, should I, dare I combine the best of France (du fromage) with the best of England (scones, obviously)? Would they form a blissful partnership which would unite our two countries for evermore? Or would the ancient enemies reject each other, resulting in a deeper rift than ever before and another bin full of freshly baked scones? Only time and tasting would tell.
To be honest, I wasn’t crazy about the scones, with or without the cheese (although the ginger ones with a bit of butter were much nicer), but the Official Taster seemed to like them, so I’ll let him tell you how they turned out…
– Well hello everyone. This being the first time I’ve had to do more than just eat, comment, and wait for the next batch, I am going to try and be as to the point as possible but still give a good idea of what my mouth was telling my brain… this isn’t starting well. I like figs, but wouldn’t say they cross my palate very often. Mixing them with ginger made me wonder for logic… two strong tastes in one bite rarely succeed, in my ‘official tasting’ opinion. So I was relieved when Southern Elle told me she was making two batches, one with both ingredients and another with just the figs.
The batches were ready, time to ready myself. Glass of ice cold water poured for palate cleansing, soft butter, the Pie d’Angloys cheese (silver medal winner in the 2010 Paris Councours General), and two scones set before me. I wanted to try it in different combinations, not just to taste the scones but also how well each one worked with the other – scones first on their own, then with butter only, then with cheese only, and finally with butter and cheese.
The judging: in keeping with what I assumed would be best for last I went for the fig and ginger scone first. Obviously sweet, the ginger overpowers the taste of the fig, however the texture of the fig actually surprised me. I really enjoyed the slight popping sensation of fig seeds with the sharp aftertaste of the ginger. In adding butter it just made for a creamier chew, and in adding the cheese produced an assault of flavours which maybe was not my favourite contrast.
On to the fig-only scone, starting again with scone alone. Again I enjoyed the texture the fig gave to the scone, but unless actually biting into a bit of fig the flavour was not very noticeable. Moving onto the butter actually did work well this time, the soft salty tasty worked well in contrast with the sweetness of the scone, and again the fig texture really made it great. Finally with the cheese and then cheese with butter; I have to say this was the best bit! I noticed that the cheese with scone alone wasn’t that great, the flavours were good but without the soft butter it made for a sticky paste in my mouth – hard to swallow and appreciate. Now the combination of the scone, butter and cheese was a revelation. The sweetness and texture of the scone, the salty contrast of the butter and the creamy lift of the cheese made for a soft, popping, creamy dance; especially when the fig comes through the cheese.
The verdict: fig and ginger scones nice, adding butter to taste, but cheese overwhelming. Fig scones on their own nice, but with the butter and cheese it was a whole new recipe for me to dream about between dinner and breakfast! –
Wow! I think the Official Taster could well do me out of a job here. I would like to add a note here that I never actually intended the ginger scones to be teaten with the cheese, but thank you, OT, for being brave enough to try it anyway. As for my reaction, I think I may just not like figs all that much…