Skulls and bones (or: scones and scones)

Is there anything funnier than making your own pastry and then baking a Poison Pie (like I did last year)? Yes—making skull and bone shaped scones!

Bone-shaped cheese scones in a baking tray
Bone-shaped cheese scones in the baking tray

This is again inspired by a children’s book, Malcolm Bird’s The Witch’s handbook. But his recipe was a bit vague; it just mentioned adding cheese to “pastry”, but not which type of pastry. Devvers suggested we used scone pastry, and so we did!

Both the BBC’s Good food cheese scone recipe and the fruit scones recipe have very similar ingredient proportions, so we decided to roughly follow the “basic principle” of the cheese scones recipe, and add different flavourings to each shape: cheese for the bones, and sugar for the skulls.

Ingredients

For the base dough

  • 225g self-raising white flour
  • salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 55g chilled butter, diced
  • 90-100g milk, chilled

For the bone scones:

  • 120g grated mature cheddar
  • paprika
  • black pepper

For the skull scones:

  • 3 tbsp caster sugar
  • vanilla extract
  • Optional: something to decorate the eyes and noses, preferrably not Nutella.

Preparation

  • Heat the oven to 200ºC fan.
  • Mix the dry ingredients, stir well.
  • Add the butter and knead until “breadcrumbs” form.
  • Slowly add the milk, a bit at a time and kneading it in, so the dough is not too dry that it crumbles apart, but not too wet that it loses shape or is too sticky.
  • Add some flour to the counter, roll and shape them, then place on a baking tray. We did not use a cookie cutter, instead we used my faithful Bread Ahead dough scraper to cut portions off the dough, and finished shaping by hand, as if it were plasticine. We also used a knife to make the teeth markings and little holes for eyes and nose in the skulls.
  • If you’re feeling very fancy you can also fill in the eyes and noses with something: icing sugar, nutella, or something that contrasts.
    • NOTE: we actually learned that Nutella is a terrible option here, as it’s hard to spread in small amounts, and it also does not melt at all in the oven, so maybe use something that you can pipe out of a nozzle and has better melting capabilities.
  • Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until they have a nice brown/golden colour.

Once they’re cool, you can then arrange them in suggestive formations such as this pile of bones:

A jenga-like tower of bones (of cheese scones)
A jenga-like tower of bones (of cheese scones)

Try playing Jenga with it… or just have them with some butter or dip them in soups 😆

Skull-shaped scones in a baking tray
Skull-shaped scones in the baking tray

The skulls were sort-of-OK to eat as they were—unfortunately the Nutella didn’t add much to the flavour…

A skull-shaped scone, with Nutella eyes and nose
A skull-shaped scone, with Nutella eyes and nose

They got undoubtedly much better the next day when we had them with clotted cream and jam, in a sort of spooky afternoon tea. Which is very suitable for something to do on Día de los Muertos 💀 … although it confuses me a bit because in Spain we celebrate All Saints on the 1st of November, whereas Mexico celebrates Day of the Dead. In any case, they’re the ones really going for the skull theme while all we do is put flowers in tombstones, so… they win!

Post Halloween afternoon tea with clotted cream and jam on skull-shaped scones
Post Halloween afternoon tea with clotted cream and jam on skull-shaped scones

I still can’t stop thinking about when Devvers commented casually: “The teeth are very useful as a handle” (when talking about holding the skulls for eating them). It sounds so gruesome! Perfect!

Also, we were listening to Cerys Matthews’ radio 6 show in the morning and she had a guest briefly mention something called “Pan de Muerto” (Bread of dead) which is another Mexican tradition for these days. They didn’t go into much detail, but that’s what the Internet is for, and the description sounds very familiar to me: “a simple sweet bread recipe, often with the addition of anise seeds, and other times flavored with orange flower water or orange zest”… or something like a mona!

Something for next year maybe 😏

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