Asparagus season has finally arrived and the local signs are up selling from stalls and farms. I always await the asparagus season with anticipation as it is pretty short and we need to get in as much as we can while it lasts. Like an impatient horse on the start line, I even change my routes to work to make sure I catch the signs as soon as they appear.
Last year was a bit poor both for length of season and quality of asparagus because of the appalling weather, but first impressions of this year’s crop are that it is good…… really good! Sweet, succulent, tender and aromatic.
Although it is a very delicate vegetable, it has a very distinctive flavour and pairs beautifully with blue cheese. I often use it in quiches in this combination, or simply baked in the oven, sprinkled with melted cheese.
Stilton is of course, the most british of blue cheeses and a good mature Stilton is hard to beat. So for this scone recipe I have combined the two for a soft, fluffy savoury bake which is not only delicious, but also gluten free.
Building on the success of my previous cheese scone recipes, this one is a fantastic addition to the list…….. The blue cheese is balanced so that it is not overpowering, but is nonetheless still a strong presence. Dotted through each scone, the tongue is awakened by little chunks of asparagus which shine unmasked.
I know the list of flours is a long one, but really, this combination makes all the difference to the end result. Pre-blended gluten free flours can be notoriously unreliable in achieving the desired softness, smoothness, sponginess, etc. They tend to be largely weighted towards rice flour which has a grittier texture and sucks up more moisture, leaving a drier, crumblier bake. Not what you want with a scone!
I have tested these with a commercial blend and the result is fine, but nowhere near as fluffy and flavoursome as using the recommended combination. So whilst it may seem a pfaff and a bother to source and mix the suggested flours, trust me…… it is really really worth the effort!
I am entering my Asparagus and Stilton Scones for two challenges for May………
Four Seasons Food (brought to us by Lou at Eat Your Veg and Anneli at Delicieux) which this month is celebrating Spring. Asparagus absolutely shouts Spring in my head and has such a short season that it totally fits the bill.
And Shop Local with Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary. I never ever buy my asparagus from anywhere that isn’t locally sourced and locally sold when in season (and rarely buy it at any other time of year). My favourite haunt for getting asparagus is a wonderful little farm up the road (Owen’s Court Farm) which grows on site. It doesn’t get fresher or more local than this!
These scones could well become one of my new Spring favourites. They are also a perfect way to freeze the aromatic flavour so that it can be enjoyed long after the season has departed…….. Let’s hope this year has plenty of asparagus to go round!
Asparagus & Stilton Scones – gluten free (makes about 18 scones)
50g mature cheddar cheese – grated
olive oil to drizzle
Note : You can substitute the flours used in this recipe for a commercially blended gluten free flour mix (if possible leave the oat flour in as this adds a more wholesome texture), but the result will not be quite as good. I would recommend that if you do this, you also add an additional 10 ml milk to the dough mix.
- Pre-heat the oven to 200 C/400 F/Gas 6.
- Wash and trim the asparagus tips and place on a baking tray. Drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt. Place in the oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, then remove from the oven. Set aside.
- Turn the oven down to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4 and line 2 baking trays with baking paper.
- Weigh and mix the flours, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, xanthan gum and salt in a large bowl, making sure any lumps are completely broken down.
- Add the butter and rub in with your finger tips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
- Add the grated cheddar and crumbled stilton (65g) and mix thoroughly.
- Cut the cooked asparagus into small pieces, and place the tips to one side to use as garnish later. Add the remaining chopped asparagus to the dry mix and stir through.
- In a separate bowl or jug, measure the milk and soured cream and add the eggs. Beat through until well blended.
- Add the wet mixture to the dry and using a spatula or flat knife, stir and bring together to make a wet dough which is even in appearance. It will be too sticky to knead by hand, but will still hold together and roll well.
- Sprinkle flour onto the work surface and tip the dough on top.
- Lightly flour the top of the dough and using a rolling pin, roll the mixture to a thickness of about 2½ cm / 1 inch.
- Cut rounds out of the dough with a cookie cutter and place on the prepared baking trays.
- Bring the remaining dough back together, re-roll and repeat the cutting process until all the dough is used.
- Glaze the top of each scone with milk using a pastry brush, then sprinkle a little of the remaining stilton onto the centre of each and decorate with an asparagus tip.
- Bake for 15 minutes until well risen and golden.
- Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack. Best served warm with a spread of butter.