I do love a good scone. All warm and buttery and piled high with clotted cream and jam. Mmmmmmmm yea. That's the stuff food dreams are made of (that's not an autocorrect - I do mean food). I've made my own scones a few times in the past and I make them all the time at work so I'm used to the process. But I've always made sweet scones, never savoury. Until now.
For ages I've had a packet of zaatar sitting in my cupboard. Which is fine because as every Arab knows, zaatar is indestructible. It's right up there with summaq and olive oil. They all hold the essence of Arab life and are staples in our cupboards. Unlike most arabs, I do not frequent my zaatar packet for breakfast. If I get peckish (and we have bread in the house) I'll pour some into a ramekin and I'll pour some olive oil into another ramekin and begin the ritual of zaatar w zeit. But it is very rare that we have bread.
I've often thought about using zaatar as part of dressings and rubs in my cooking but I've never really been brave enough to go through with it. Until today. I had the taste for zaatar manakeesh and it was just not going away. I had resigned myself to the fact that I was going to have to make the dough for the manakeesh and wait for the yeast to fail me yet again but then I remembered - scones. One half of me is Arab but the other half is most certainly British. So what do I do? Put the two together.
3 cups self raising flour
1 cup zaatar
1 tsp of salt
50 g butter
1 1/4 cups milk
1 egg (for egg wash)
Preheat an oven to 200 degrees C. Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl and rub the butter in until it looks like breadcrumbs. Add the zaatar and mix it all together.
Make a well in the middle until you can see the bottom of the bowl and pour the milk into it. With your fingers, gather in the dry ingredients, slowly incorporating it in with the milk. It will start to form a sticky dough. When all of the flour mixture and milk is mixed together, turn it out onto a floured surface and roll out the dough until it's an inch thick.
You can use a circular cutter or cut the scones into triangles with a knife. If you're using a knife, trim the edges of the dough to make nice, even shapes, cut the dough into quarters and then cut those quarters diagonally to make the triangles.
Dust a baking sheet lightly with flour to stop the scones from sticking. Lay them neatly with enough space between them that they don't stick together when they rise. A centimetre should do it. Add a drop of water to the egg, mix it together and use a pastry brush to lightly brush the top of the scones. Put them in the oven for 12 minutes.
The scones are good hot or cold. Cream cheese or labneh with cucumber and mint go VERY nicely with these. Or you can spread them with pate and sprinkle some spring onions over the top.