Saturday 14 January 2012

Pesto Soda Scones

A couple of years ago Jane and I spent a weekend at the Ballyknocken Cookery School in Glenealy, County Wicklow, Ireland. The school is run by the well-known TV Chef and Food Writer, Catherine Fulvio, whose series "Catherine's Italian Kitchen" some of you may have seen on TV. Catherine is Irish, but is married to a Sicilian, and her cuisine is a very interesting mixture of styles. Surprisingly it includes many things of a Far Eastern nature, such as her amazing Chinese Style Beef, which has become a family favourite for us. We made it during our time at the school and were absolutely bowled-over by it. But today it's not beef I want to write about, it's soda-bread...

I want to tell you about Pesto Soda Scones, an easy recipe that produces a fantastic end result. This is (naturally) another of the recipes we learned during the course, and it has become part of our standard repertiore. On this occasion, Jane made the scones, but I assure you that the recipe is so easy even I can make them (I have done in the past!).

Acknowledgement: this recipe is Catherine's, but I'm sure she would want me to tell you about it.

Pesto Soda Scones (serves four, but can easily be halved)
  • 450g plain white flour
  • 1 level tsp sugar
  • 1 level tsp bicarbonate of soda (in Ireland this is known as bread soda or baking soda)
  • 1 level tsp salt
  • 350 - 450ml buttermilk or soured milk (you can make your own by adding some lemon juice to ordinary milk)
  • 1 small jar (120ml?) Pesto [We use frozen home-made pesto cubes]
  • Other flavourings to taste - such as chopped Sundried tomatoes, chopped pitted olives, Tapenade, herbs, etc 

  • Preheat oven to 230C / 450F / Gas Mark 8
  • Sieve all the dry ingredients
  • Mix in any of the "other flavourings" you are using
  • Make a well in the centre, pour in most of the buttermilk and mix to a soft dough
  • If more milk is needed, add it now
  • When mixed, turn out onto a floured surface and knead lightly
  • Flatten into a long thin shape about 1cm in thickness
  • Lightly spread the pesto onto the dough
  • Working from the longer edge, roll up the dough (like a Swiss Roll or Roulade)
  • Seal the edges by pinching them together
  • Cut into slices about 2.5cm in width
  • Lay the slices flat on a baking tray that has been greased, or lined with non-stick baking parchment)
  • Bake for approx 15 minutes, checking frequently
  • [Cooking time varies a lot depending on the fillings you use and the thickness of the scones].
The end result should look like this:-

Here you can see the spiral shape quite clearly:

Serve while still warm, perhaps as an accompaniment to some home-made Tomato Soup, or with a piece of nice cheese. Maybe slice them horizontally and spread the pieces with soft cream cheese and top with a cherry tomato?

Note: Soda bread goes stale very quickly, so don't make more of these than will be consumed with 24 hours at most. (They don't tend to hang about long though...)

An afterthought: I'm sure you could do sweet versions of this too, using jam instead of pesto, with fillings like apricots, raisins, candied peel, etc.


  1. They look delicious. I could imagine they'd taste delicious with something tomatoey (is that a word?).

  2. This sound fantastic. So different to anything I've seen done with soda bread. I'm desperate to make soda bread...might try it tomorrow! I hope the cookery school was fun! In answer to your persimmon question, someone said they have to be all wrinkly and way overripe before you even try! Like your blog Mark, am following.

  3. Very interesting! We don't have scones here but as I was reading I was wondering what you ate them with and then you said tomato soup and it all made perfect sense. Now I see what you would use pesto for and these really sound good too. I have basil growing on the window already but it will be a while before I can make pesto :( Will have to get some store-bought until then.

  4. they look so mouthwatering.... I hope I can get around to making it shortly for tea

  5. These look stunning. I love the rolled up method, that's a new one on me. I've always wanted to go on one of those cookery school things and I must make 2012 the year to do it!

  6. They look lovely - a baking experience for the kids and I for later in the week I think.

  7. No wonder you are such an adventurous cook - cookery school! Have you framed certificates in your kitchen? When are you entering Masterchef or the Bake Off?

  8. I really enjoy cooking classes. I'll have to look into the one you mention in Wicklow. The pesto bread looks really good. However, I like the idea of the sweet version, maybe with sugar, cinnamon and raisins! I have a cold at the minute and all I want to do is eat!

  9. Oo Mark those photos have really hit the spot they look really scrummy - you really are a dedicated foodie - its a wonder you're not as large as a house.

  10. Elaine; How do you know that I'm NOT as large as a house???

  11. Very nice, I wonder if a grate of Asagio over the top would work or if it would burn.

  12. David; Yes, I reckon the cheese would be nice. It probably wouldn't burn because the scones don't need to cook for very long.

  13. Cor they look dead tasty and so few ingredients. Definitely one for the to do list

  14. What fabulous looking scones. And great pictures. I'll have to give these a go when all the Glam Teens are in, I'm sure they would love them and no chance of any being left to go stale! GG

  15. Mark, this is a wonderful recipe! I've pesto cubes in my freezer that would be perfect! I hope you are feeling better, been thinking of you! Cheers, Jenni

  16. These scones look really delicious Mark - the swirl effect of the pesto is particularly impressive.

    I do like it that you can halve the recipe as I'm often put off baking by the sheer quantity you have to eat. It sounds like you could still aim for rolling out a 1cm thick layer of the dough so that you wouldn't need to change the cooking times - is it a long rectangular kind of shape to make the roll?

  17. ooh I like the sound of this. Wonder if I can make it with wild garlic pesto LOL. Thanks for your kind comments Mark, they've been most appreciated. I'm back in Scotland and still poorly, but getting better.

  18. Sophie; Yes, since there are no eggs involved or anything like that, the recipe is totally "scaleable". And Yes, you do need to roll the dough out long and thin, however big it is. You roll it into a big sausage shape with the filling inside it and then cut it into slices.

  19. Those look yummy Mark-I could almost pluck one off the page and munch into it! I’ll give it a go this week with my newly bought smoked flour. Halved and slathered with cream cheese or with some tasty tomato soup-oh my goodness, I’m almost salivating thinking about it!!

  20. Great photos and delicious looking scones, I love scones, sweet or savory. Do these freeze well?

  21. These look/sound lovely. Especially love another excuse to eat pesto. I shall have to try these!

    (Still can't use my wordpress account to comment, the word verification check never comes up after I write my comment, select my wordpress login and hit publish - or it appears and disappears before I can type in it - and the page just redirects to its original state with my comment still editable and the publish button highlighted, in an endless cycle)


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