The most AMAZING Gluten Free Stilton and Asparagus Scones. Lastingly soft, light and airy… Packed with cheese and little bites of roasted asparagus… Divine slathered with butter… And best of all… No-one will EVER know they are gluten free. And that’s a promise.
Originally posted 4th may 2014. Recipe Improved and Updated 18th April 2020
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Gluten Free Stilton and Asparagus Scones – Perfectly English and perfectly paired
These savoury Gluten Free Stilton and Asparagus Scones are INCREDIBLE! I would go so far as to say they are up there with the BEST gluten free scones I have ever eaten. Soft and light, yet slightly dense (just as a good scone should be)… The distinctive delicate flavour of roasted asparagus in perfect harmony with the earthiness of blue Stilton cheese… A recipe created to stay soft even once they are cool and beyond. (Which, if we’re honest, is incredibly rare for a gluten free scone.)
I like to call them my ‘English savoury scones’, because both the Stilton and the asparagus feel quintessentially British. A divine twist on a basic cheese scone… And perfectly delicious slathered in butter (or not).
What is Stilton cheese?
Stilton is a uniquely English blue cheese that is quite strong in flavour and has deep, dark blue, marbled veins running through. While it is understood to date back to the early 18th Century, in 1996, it was given European Protected Designation of Origin status. Thus, Stilton cheese can only be made in the English counties of Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire. And has to be made using traditional recipes that have been around for generations.
Traditionally made with pasteurised cow’s milk, Stilton is bold and pungent. Its texture is crumbly, yet soft and creamy and its flavour rich and intense, with nutty undertones and a gentle saltiness.
Can I use another blue cheese to make Gluten Free Stilton and Asparagus Scones?
If you are unable to source Stilton cheese, then yes, you can use another blue cheese to make these scones. Although they won’t be ‘Stilton’ and Asparagus Scones anymore, they will be just as delicious. Just be sure to pick a semi-hard, strong blue cheese that crumbles well. Other than that, the choice is yours.
What is asparagus and when is it in season?
Asparagus is a beautifully delicate, seasonal vegetable which grows as slender, pointy spears straight from the ground. It is recognisable for its almost floral, scaled tips. It has a gentle flavour that is lightly earthy and an almost ‘pea’ like sweetness about it. But otherwise, it is somewhat unique in every way.
Although due to imports, asparagus is available in supermarkets all year round, its season is generally very short and to be treasured. (Although this does mean it can cost more than many other vegetables).
Widely considered to be the best asparagus, the British asparagus season traditionally runs (dependent on weather conditions) between St Georges Day on the 23rd April and the Summer Solstice on 21st June. And I’ll be honest… For me, it’s one of the most restlessly anticipated food seasons. Every year, I’m like an impatient horse on the start line… alertly watching for local pop-up ‘Asparagus’ signs at farms and roadside stalls… Eagerly grabbing as much as I can while it’s available.
Is this recipe for gluten free Stilton and Asparagus Scones suitable for people with Coeliac Disease?
Yes. For sure! The recipe shared for Stilton and Asparagus Scones uses a good gluten free flour blend. There are no other ingredients containing gluten. And that means they are 100% safe for people with Coeliac Disease (Celiac Disease).
If eating gluten free because of a health diagnosis however, be sure to check ALL ingredients for any risk from ’may contain’ warnings or cross-contamination… Baking powder in particular is sometimes made with ‘hidden’ wheat.
What are the key ingredients used to make gluten free Stilton and Asparagus Scones?
Stilton and Cheddar cheeses
Although the recipe has been developed using Stilton and Cheddar cheeses, it is fine to substitute these. An alternative creamy, crumbly blue cheese and mature, tangy, hard cheese (Cheddar equivalent) that melts easily and grates well, will work perfectly.
Try to choose the finer/thinner spears. Apart from often tasting sweeter, they tend to have less ‘woody’ stems and can also be cut to small pieces that work better in the scone dough. Be sure to cut off the hard, woody end of the asparagus (which is very ‘fibrous’ and unpleasant to eat). And save the scaled tips for adorning the scone tops.
The Gluten Free Flour Blend
For best results, it is important to choose a well-balance gluten free flour blend to make Stilton and Asparagus Scones. I use my own blend… Gluten Free Rice Free Blend B, because…
- It offers the best scone structure and texture… Soft, fluffy, not gritty or dry and that don’t taste gluten free!
- The scones stay soft and fresher for longer than recipes using most commercial gluten free flour blends.
- The flours in my rice-free blend have a better nutritional balance than most very starch-based gluten free blends.
I would always recommend making a recipe with the flour blend as stated. However, If you need to use a commercial flour blend (such as Doves Freee), that’s fine… But be aware that the texture and shelf life of the scones will not be quite as good.
The Raising Agent used in my Stilton and Asparagus Scones
While some scone recipes use self-raising flour in scone making, I always use plain flour. Why? Because it allows better control over the leavening process and removes any guesswork on how much baking powder the flour blend already contains. That means greater flexibility and a more calculated rise.
For Stilton and Asparagus Scones, I have used a mix of mainly baking powder, with a hint of additional bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) for extra boost. If you are someone who finds the taste of baking soda bitter, just sub for extra baking powder.
Xanthan Gum (or alternative)
The recipe shared does use a little xanthan gum to help binding. It also provides a more robust structure and supports shelf-life. For this reason, I would absolutely recommend that you include it in your bake.
Be aware however, that if using a commercial gluten free flour blend, it may already have xanthan gum included. Check the ingredients label to find out. If it is in the blend, adjust the recipe below to add only ¼ teaspoon xanthan gum.
Equally, if you are sensitive to xanthan gum and prefer not to use it, substitute with 2½ teaspoons of ground psyllium husk instead. Check the consistency of the dough and if it feels a little dry, add an extra tablespoon of milk.
Milk and Lemon Juice
These two ingredients are combined to make a simple homemade, light buttermilk that gives the scones softness, extra rise and keeps them softer for longer.
Butter and Egg
The butter, which must be cold and cubed, is ‘rubbed in‘ to the flour until it resembles coarse sand. This process ensures that when baked, the little grains of fat melt in an even distribution throughout the dough… And as they do so, they create little pockets of air to bring a light flakiness and rise.
The egg provides binding, additional leavening and structure.
Tips for making the best Gluten Free Stilton and Asparagus Scones
My gluten free Stilton and Asparagus Scones are pretty easy to make and require minimal baking skill. However, it always helps to have a few tips and tricks up the sleeve to get the very best results…
Rubbing fat into flour… Make sure the butter is cold and hard
For the best scones, butter should always be cold and hard at the point that it is rubbed into the flour. If it becomes too warm, the particles will break down too far, the scones will not rise as well and the flaky lightness will be lost. Alongside this, cold hands work best. So, wash hands in cold water before starting and work quickly to avoid the mix becoming too hot.
With each ‘rub’, lift the mixture between fingertips from a little height. This helps to keep it cool and airy.
Chill the ‘rubbed in’ butter and flour
Once the fat has been rubbed into the flour, pop the mixture back in the fridge for half an hour or so. It may seem like a delay, but I promise the extra chill makes all the difference to ensuring the butter maintains its ‘fleckiness’ when the liquid is added. And… it helps the dough to remain cool throughout mixing and rolling, which boosts the rise and flakiness.
Add the bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) AFTER chilling
My recipe for gluten free Stilton and Asparagus Scones uses a little bicarbonate of soda in addition to baking powder. However, because of the chemical properties of bicarb, it helps to add it to the rubbed-in mixture after it has been chilled. This ensures the bicarb remains active for as long as possible.
Make sure the asparagus is cooked and cold
The asparagus for Stilton and Asparagus Scones has to be roasted (or alternatively grilled) before being cut into pieces and added to the dough. Roasting as whole spears removes excess moisture, while maintaining tenderness.
It is important to ensure however, that it has cooled completely before adding to the dough mix, so that it doesn’t add premature heat. Also, that it is cut into small enough pieces to enable shaping and cutting.
Remember to reserve the pretty, scaly tips to top the scones.
Do not over-compress the scone dough
Once the mixture has the liquid added and is brought together as a ‘shaggy dough’, it needs to be compressed into a ball, before being rolled and cut. It is important however, that the dough is not over-compressed. Aim for something that can be rolled but still has ‘imperfections’ in texture. This supports the creation of air pockets giving rise and light, fluffy texture.
Cut scones with a ‘straight down’ cut
When cutting scone dough into rounds, use a sharp-edged cookie or scone cutter and cut straight down. Avoid twisting the cutter as it is pressed. This can result in ‘wonky’ scones that rise unevenly. I use these cutters, which have a taller cutting edge… Perfect for the height of scone dough (which needs to be cut with some depth).
Bake Stilton and Asparagus Scones on a hot tray
For the best rise, scones should be placed cold and cut onto a HOT baking tray. The immediate contact with the hot base helps push the scones upwards. So, heat the tray in the oven, while the scones are being cut. Then, when ready to bake, remove the tray from the oven… Carefully and quickly transfer the cut, glazed rounds onto it… And return to the oven to bake immediately.
How long do gluten free Stilton and Asparagus Scones last?
Unlike many gluten free scones, my Stilton and Asparagus Scones should stay soft for a couple of days. I store them in an airtight container at room temperature. However, if the air temperature is warm, it would be advisable to store them in the fridge because they contain dairy and vegetables. If they do need to be stored in the fridge, they will become firmer… However, they can be quickly softened (and warmed) by a few seconds in the microwave. Or (if preferred), toasted.
Can gluten free Stilton and Asparagus Scones be frozen?
Yes. To freeze Stilton and Asparagus Scones, simply freeze as soon as possible after baking in an airtight bag or container. Freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to eat, remove and defrost at room temperature and/or pop in the microwave for a few seconds to warm and soften (as needed).
Ready to make gluten free Stilton and Asparagus Scones?
The recipe for my gluten free Stilton and Asparagus Scones can be found below. I hope you enjoy them. Although I said it before, I’ll say it again… They are up there with the BEST gluten free scones I’ve ever eaten.
If there is anything you don’t understand or questions that haven’t been covered, just shout. Leave a comment at the bottom of the post, email me, or get in touch via social media. You can find me on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter. And if you do make the scones and post any photos, don’t forget to tag me in (#glutenfreealchemist @glutenfreealchemist).
For lots more gluten free scone inspiration, we also have a dedicated Gluten Free Scones Index. Why not go have a look? Or for everything else, the Gluten Free Recipe Index is the best place to start, to navigate the hundreds of recipes we have at Gluten Free Alchemist.
All shared with my love… for FREE.
Stilton and Asparagus Scones – Gluten Free
- measuring jug
- sharp vegetable knife
- flat-bladed knife
- 350 g gluten free plain flour blend GFA Rice Free Blend B see NOTES
- 2 tsp xanthan gum
- 4 tsp baking powder gluten free
- ¼ tsp fine sea salt
- 90 g butter cold and cubed
- 60 g mature Cheddar cheese grated
- 60 g Stilton blue cheese (or alternative blue-veined cheese) – crumbled
- 190 ml/g milk preferably full fat
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda baking soda
- 1 large egg UK large (Canadian ‘Extra Large’; Australian ‘Jumbo’; and US ‘Extra or Very Large’)
- 125 g asparagus tips
- 40 g addtional Stilton Cheese (to sprinkle on top) (or alternative blue cheese) – crumbled
- olive oil to drizzle on asparagus when cooking
Egg wash and rolling
- I egg + a little milk to glaze beaten together
- Extra flour for dusting and rolling
Roast the Asparagus (can be done ahead of time)
- 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.
- Once roasted, set aside to cool completely and preferably place in the fridge to chill.
- In a large mixing bowl, weigh and mix together the flour, xanthan gum, baking powder and salt, until all lumps are broken down and the mixture is well-blended.
- With finger tips, rub the cold, cubed butter into the flour mix until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. (for hot hands see NOTES)
- Add the grated Cheddar and crumbled Stilton and fold through.
- If possible (although not essential), chill the rubbed-in mixture in the fridge for an hour or so.
- Mix the milk with the lemon juice. Stir and leave to stand at room temperature for about 15 minutes to make homemade buttermilk (It should become grainy/lumpy).
- Base-line a couple of large baking sheets with baking paper and place in the oven to heat.
- Pre-heat the oven to 200 C/400 F/Gas 6.
- Cut the cold, cooked asparagus into small pieces, leaving the tips about 2 to 3 cm long. Set the tips to one side to use as garnish later.
- Add the remaining chopped asparagus and the bicarbonate of soda to the dry mix and stir through.
- Beat the egg with a fork in a small bowl until blended and then add, with the homemade buttermilk to the dry mix.
- Gently stir the mixture using a flat-bladed table knife until it has become damp and clumpy.
- With floured hands, carefully bring the dough into a ball and press lightly together (do not over-work or over-condense).
- Tip the dough onto a floured surface and gently press down to flatten slightly and sprinkle with flour to prevent sticking.
- Roll the dough out using a rolling pin to a thickness of about 4 to 5 cm.
- Using a round pastry cutter to the size of scones you require, cut the dough into rounds, by pressing straight down.
- As each scone is cut, set them to one side until ready to bake.
- Bring any remaining dough together and repeat the rolling and cutting process until all the dough has been used, trying hard not to 'work' the dough too much.
- Make an egg wash, by beating an egg with a drop of milk.
- Using a pastry brush, glaze the top of each scone with a little egg-wash.
- Top with an asparagus tip and a sprinkle of Stilton.
- When ready to cook, carefully take the pre-heated baking tray(s) from the oven and (either by hand or with a spatula) quickly transfer the dough-scones to the tray, ensuring about 3 centimetres space around each one for an even bake.
- Using oven gloves, put the tray back in the oven and bake for 12 to 15 minutes for medium-sized scones (or 16 to 17 minutes for large scones) until well-risen and golden.
- Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.
- Eat warm or cold.
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