Parmesan and ras el hanout scones

Dave and I have been tasting a lot of scones this week. When I handed him one of these parmesan and ras el hanout scones and told him what it was called he replied “Ras what?”. I reminded him of a chicken dish we sometimes have with ras el hanout. His comment told me that while I loved the combination of spices in this mix, both a little spicy and sweet, I didn’t know much more about the spice itself.


Ras el hanout I now know is a spice mix that is used a lot in north Africa. There is no standard recipe and different shops and brands will have different recipes for their ras el hanout. It can contain up to 100 different spices. The name means ‘head of the shop’ in Arabic, which reflects it’s expensive ingredients. Luckily for us it’s now so common that my local big supermarket stocks two different varieties. Here is a recipe if you want to make your own.

Or if you want to make these scones now and don’t have ras el hanout or the ingredients, then suggest making a reasonable substitute with just the following:

● 1 part cumin
● ½ part ground coriander
● ½ part ginger powder
● ½ part cayenne (or paprika if you like it milder)

For 2 tbsp of ‘ras el hanout’ as required for these scones I would use
5½ tsp ground cumin
2¾ tsp ground coriander
2¾ tsp ground ginger
2¾ tsp cayenne pepper or paprika

I like sweet scones, but savoury ones have a place in my heart. When I was on my first lot of maternity leave, pennies were tight. I used to get vouchers from John Lewis for a free hot drink and cake. These vouchers would perk a day up no end. I would go into John Lewis with JP, look at lots of lovely things and then have lunch. He would suckle away and I would savour my pot of tea and one of their enormous cheese scones.

These parmesan and ras el hanout scones have real flavour. They are cheesy and then the spice kicks in – it doesn’t overwhelm but it’s definitely there. It lingers a little in your mouth too. I have enjoyed these scones with butter and a salad for a light lunch. You could eat them alongside a bowl of soup, or just on their own. Ideally they would be still warm from the oven. I’ve made scones for lunch when I suddenly realise we are out of bread and these parmesan and ras el hanout scones would be ideal.

See my post on eight tips for baking perfect scones.


Parmesan and ras el hanout scones


Any other strong hard cheese will work in place of parmesan

  • Author:
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 8 scones


  • 350g/12¼oz self-raising flour, plus more for dusting
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp ras el hanout
  • 85g/3oz butter cut into cubes
  • 150g/5¼oz grated parmesan plus a little more for the top of the scones
  • 175ml milk
  • ⅛ tsp lemon juice
  • beaten egg for glazing


  1. Preheat the oven to 220C/ 200C fan /428F/Gas mark 7, putting a baking tray in the oven to preheat as well.
  2. Sieve the flour, salt, baking powder and ras el hanout into a large bowl and mix well. Add the butter and rub it in until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Alternatively, use a food processor and mix until the butter has disappeared.
  3. Mix in the cheese. Add the lemon juice to the milk and then add this to the flour mixture. Stir quickly with a knife and then use your hands to make a dough ball. Knead a few times just until the dough becomes smooth. Scatter a little flour over a work surface and shape the dough with your hands or a rolling pin so that it is 2.5cm/1” thick. To make triangular scones, make a circle with the dough and cut it into 1/8th like a cake.  Or use a floured 5cm/2” wide smooth cutter to cut out circular scones.   You may need to reform some of the dough to cut out the last few scones. Brush the tops of the scones with the beaten egg and then finish with grated parmesan.
  4. Place the dough scones directly on the preheated baking tray and immediately return to the oven. Bake for 10-15 minutes until lightly golden on top. Leave for a few minutes on the baking tray before transferring to a cooling rack. Serve with butter.



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