18 November 2014

Pumpkin Scones

Last week, I was writing teaser text for recipes on a soon-to-be-launched health website I'm helping work on. I sat, head-phoned, churning out loglines for dishes. What's the punch of this dish? Why make it? The what, when, why of cooking: lean, diet-friendly cooking for that matter. It's a good thing I'm an avid reader of Bonappetit.com, regularly distracted by their Facebook feed. Take the Pumpkin Scones from the November issue, advertised as "There isn't a brunch guest who would turn one of these down." Of course, the picture of crispy, orange-hued scones is worth a thousand words in itself, the scent of cinnamon traveling through the screen. I clicked, I Pinned, I made. My tagline: These golden, crisp on the outside, pillowy on the inside seasonal scones are the quintessential autumn breakfast. And, you can make it ahead.

The dough is a breeze to work with. It clumps nicely in the bowl when you stir in the wet ingredients, due to the moisture content from pumpkin, egg and buttermilk. But the leavening chemistry and longish bake (be sure to let them go until their tops brown a bit; they will still be nice and fluffy inside) ensures they aren't overly-moist. I was pleased with how soft they were inside while developing nice crispy edges. Oh, and the fresh cranberries. You get to chop some of them up, too and add them to the mix, and the notes of tart chew are just about right with the pumpkin spices.

Needless to say, everyone needs pumpkin scones in their life Bon Appetit originally ran the recipe with a cinnamon butter to spread on top. We prefer my old standby of honey, butter and flakey salt stirred together though, so we went with that. New recipes, old standbys, life is about finding the balance between theses two things. Enjoy.

Pumpkin Scones 
Makes 8, though I halved it.

1/2 c sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 cups flour
6 oz/ 1.5 sticks good butter, cold
1/2 cup chopped fresh cranberries
1 egg
1/4 cup buttermilk, well shaken + more
1/2 cup pumpkin puree

In a large bowl whisk sugar, baking powder, soda, spices, salt and flour. Cut in butter to resemble coarse meal with some pea size lumps. Stir in cranberries. Stir together pumpkin, buttermilk and egg, and make a well in the flour mix. Add wet mix at once and begin to gently but quickly incorporate to moisten into a mass. Turn out onto a work surface and bring into a disk, folding the dough over itself once or twice. Cut into 8 wedges and freeze until firm, 30 minutes. *At this point dough can be frozen in ziplock to bake later. When ready to bake, heat oven to 400,  brush wedges with buttermilk and sprinkle with sugar. Bake 25-30 minutes, adding 5 minutes or so if frozen, until tops are golden brown, a toothpick comes out clean, and scones are firm. Cool on a rack 15 minutes at least.

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