Spinach, Feta, Red Pepper and Fennel Seed Scones


 
Spinach, Feta, Red Pepper, and Fennel Seed Scones. Perfect for a quick morning tea, a savory brunch option, or a light casual lunch.
Spinach, Feta, Red Pepper, and Fennel Seed Scones. Perfect for a quick morning tea, a savory brunch option, or a light casual lunch.
Spinach, Feta, Red Pepper, and Fennel Seed Scones. Perfect for a quick morning tea, a savory brunch option, or a light casual lunch.
Spinach, Feta, Red Pepper, and Fennel Seed Scones. Perfect for a quick morning tea, a savory brunch option, or a light casual lunch.
Spinach, Feta, Red Pepper, and Fennel Seed Scones. Perfect for a quick morning tea, a savory brunch option, or a light casual lunch.
Spinach, Feta, Red Pepper, and Fennel Seed Scones. Perfect for a quick morning tea, a savory brunch option, or a light casual lunch.
Spinach, Feta, Red Pepper, and Fennel Seed Scones. Perfect for a quick morning tea, a savory brunch option, or a light casual lunch.
Spinach, Feta, Red Pepper, and Fennel Seed Scones. Perfect for a quick morning tea, a savory brunch option, or a light casual lunch.
Spinach, Feta, Red Pepper, and Fennel Seed Scones. Perfect for a quick morning tea, a savory brunch option, or a light casual lunch.

 

One of the things that gets super confusing when you move countries is holidays. Christmas and New Year etc are always the same (mind you I got asked the other day if when it's July in America, if it's also July in NZ, so go figure), but things like Father's day etc are often at very different times. This leads to some frantic googling every now and then, just to make sure you haven't missed anything back home. I've found buying my diary from NZ helps with this too, but the internet still catches me out every now and then when I see all the Dad pics and then realise the dates are different. 

Just to make things more confusing, our Mother's day is the same as in the US. So I figured seeing as it's a worldwide celebration of sorts, I will add my contribution of food ideas to the internet. It seems as if 'Mother's day brunch' is a thing over here - for our Mum it was always just a cup of tea in bed with a piece of badly buttered toast, but brunch is always something that I can get behind. My own Mum is actually here in NYC with me right at this very second! She hasn't been here for close to four years, so I am having the best time showing her all of the things that have changed since she was last here. It's the best.

Scones for breakfast are one of my fave things! I grew up in a house where emergency scones were whipped up on the regular - our house was somewhat of a community train station with people popping in to say hi or to have a cup of tea all the time. Savoury scones are so under rated - you can add whatever you like to them, they come together fairly quickly, and are perfect to whip up in the morning for a morning tea or a light lunch. That goes for scones in general, but I do think that Savoury scones need a little more loving. 

I love the combination of Spinach, Feta, Red Pepper and Fennel seed, although it happens less than I would like around here, because I am married to a staunch cheese and bacon dude. However I figured these were too good not to share with you, and so Rich had to suck it up just this one time. The process for making these is very similar to regular scones, except you fry up all the delicious things first, leave them to cool slightly, then incorporate them in just before you add the milk. They are so delicious fresh out of the oven, but will be just as awesome the next day, warmed slightly and served with loads of good quality butter. Happy Scone-ing!

A few wee tips:

  • These are super versatile - feel free to play around with the fillings, but just be aware that you may have to adjust the amount of milk accordingly - for example if you left out the feta, you would need a little more milk to replace the moisture.
  • With that being said - you may need more or less milk depending on the water content of your feta, the size of your red pepper etc. I like to add most of the milk and give it a mix, then see if I need the rest, just to prevent them being too wet.
  • I find that freezing the butter in little cubes works best for me! Make sure that your scone contents are fairly cool before you add them to the flour and butter mixture, in order to reduce the amount of melting that happens. I either cool the mix in the pan, stirring frequently to release heat, or I spread into a shallow dish. 
  • These keep in an airtight container fairly well! They are best eaten fresh, but if you want to have them the next day too, send them for a spin in the microwave first. 
 

 

Spinach, Feta, Red Pepper, and Fennel Seed Scones

- Makes about 8 large scones -

2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1 medium red pepper (capscicum), diced
225g (8oz) feta cheese, crumbled
300g baby spinach, roughly chopped
Salt and Pepper to season
4 cups (600g) all-purpose flour
5 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 sticks butter, cut into small cubes and frozen for 10-15 min
1/2 cup (120ml) whole milk
Cream to brush

 

- PROCESS -

Preheat the oven to 400˚f / 200˚c. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 

In a non-stick skillet or frying pan, toast the fennel seeds over medium heat, moving constantly, until they are lightly toasted and beginning to smell fragrant. Remove and set aside. Return the skillet to the stove, and heat a little olive oil over high heat. 

Add the chopped onion, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring often. Add the red pepper, and cook for another 2 minutes, or until starting to soften. Add the spinach, and cook until wilted. Season the mixture well with salt and pepper. Remove the pan from the heat, and allow to cool for 15-20 minutes until cooled, or just warm. Add the crumbled feta and toasted fennel seeds. 

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder. Add the butter, and rub in with your fingertips until well combined, with a few lumps remaining. Add the cooled spinach and red pepper mixture, and stir gently to incorporate. Add most of the milk, and mix with your hands or a wooden spoon to combine. Add the remainder if required (This will vary on the size of your pepper etc) - the mixture should be wet enough that it sticks together, but not so wet that it is sticky and gloopy. 

Turn the mixture out onto a floured surface, and pat into a rectangle. Gently fold the top third of the dough down to two thirds of the way down, and then fold the bottom third on top of it - as if you were folding a letter. Pat the dough out into a rectangle again, turn the dough 90 degrees, and repeat the letter fold again. Repeat one more time, before patting out into a rectangle approx 2 inches thick.

Cut the dough into 8 even pieces. Lightly dust the bottoms with flour, and space evenly on the baking sheet. Brush the tops of the scones with cream or milk. 

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the scones have risen, and have turned a light golden brown. Allow to cool on a wire rack before serving.

 

FILLING AND ASSEMBLY

Place all of the filling ingredients in a small bowl, and mix well to combine.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface, and roll into a 24"x15" rectangle. If you find that the dough is snapping back and hard to work with, cover it lightly with a tea towel and leave it for 5 minutes to relax before continuing to roll out. 

Using an offset spatula, spread the filling evenly over the dough, ensuring the mixture goes right to the edges. Holding the short side, starting on the left, fold the dough over a third, then fold the right side over so that it covers the left, the same way that you would fold a letter to go into an envelope. Transfer the dough to a baking sheet, cover lightly with plastic wrap, and place in the fridge for 10-15 minutes to help the filling firm up a little. 

Remove the dough from the fridge and transfer back to your work surface. Roll out slightly. Using a ruler and a pastry wheel, working on the short side, cut the dough into strips approximately 2cm (0.8 inches) wide. 

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Working with one strip at a time, holding both ends, twist the strip a couple of times. Then, hold one end in your hand, and wrap the other end twice around your four fingers and thumb. Remove your thumb, and loop the strip over the top of the roll, and tuck it in underneath along with your thumb loop. (Alana's gif is v helpful here!) Place each bun on the prepared baking sheet, leaving a little space between each. Once you have twisted all of your buns, cover the baking sheet loosely with plastic, and allow to sit in a warm place for 30-40 minutes, or until the cinnamon rolls have risen slightly. While the rolls are rising, preheat the oven to 400˚f / 200˚c. 

Lightly egg wash each roll, and sprinkle liberally with pearl sugar. Bake for 15 minutes checking after 12, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet, before transferring to a wire rack and allowing to cool completely.  

Store remaining rolls in an airtight container. Warm slightly in the microwave before serving. 

Spinach, Feta, Red Pepper, and Fennel Seed Scones. Perfect for a quick morning tea, a savory brunch option, or a light casual lunch.