Stilton and fig wholemeal scones recipe by Claire Thomson

There’s something to be said for bringing just a few simple ingredients together swiftly in a bowl, and for the outcome when baked to taste as good as this. I’ve loved making scones, a kitchen basic, ever since I first started cooking: plain to start with, then gradually introducing different ingredients and switching flours.

I’ve used wholemeal flour here for its nutty character, which I think flatters the stilton and the fig. It is crucial to let the scones sit and rest on a wire rack for 10 minutes on exit from the oven, to allow the steam to dissipate and the scone crumb to firm up.

Makes about 8 scones
wholemeal flour 225g
self-raising flour 225g, plus extra for dusting
unsalted butter 110g, cold, cut into small dice
stilton 150g, or any firm blue cheese, crumbled
dried figs, or apricots, or dates 6 large, roughly chopped
salt 1 tsp
coarsely cracked black pepper 1 tsp
egg 1
whole milk 150ml

Preheat the oven to 160C fan/gas mark 4.

Line a baking sheet with baking paper. Place the flours and butter in a mixing bowl and rub together with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs (pulsing in a food processor is a good way to do this quickly).

Add the stilton, figs, salt and pepper, and mix well.

Beat the egg and the milk together in a jug. Gradually add all but 1 tablespoon of the egg and milk mixture to the dry ingredients in the bowl, and use a metal spoon to gently bring together to form a cohesive dough. Work quickly and with as little mixing as possible.

Tip the dough out on to a floured surface – it won’t be completely smooth and will have a few fissures – and gently pat out to about 3cm thick.

Using a metal cutter, stamp out as many 7cm rounds as you can and place on the lined sheet, then gently pull together the remaining dough, pat it out again and cut more rounds until you’ve used up all the dough. It will do no harm if the last few rounds are a bit misshapen, to prevent any over-working of the dough.

Brush the top of each scone with the remaining tablespoon of egg-and-milk mixture and place the sheet in the oven to bake for 16-20 minutes, or until risen and golden.

Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes.

From New Kitchen Basics by Claire Thomson (Quadrille, £25)