Thursday, April 29, 2010

Bumpin' Pumpkin Scones

A full plate of scones, ready for friends on a Saturday afternoon.

My mom and I both love scones. Their delicate, crumbly texture and softly sweet flavor make me think of tea time, weekend ladies brunch, or breakfast enjoyed on a warm, sunny day in the countryside. My go-to recipe at home was for white chocolate scones; my mom liked them with jam and butter while I preferred them straight from the oven.

Last winter in Tacoma, WA, the Resident Taste Tester (with his draw to coffee) and I had pumpkin scones from a corner cafe. These were large, much larger than scones I would make (which is the tendency of many coffee houses and their coffee accompanying treats). They were moist, a bit more dense, and covered with icing that dreamily poured down their sides. I knew that one day I would make them.

When I told a friend of my scone ambitions, he told me he'd never met a scone he liked. Crumbly. Dry. Tasteless. Ha! Undaunted and armed with this pumpkin scones recipe from, I  forged ahead with my plan to destroy his concept of scones as mediocre pastries.

After familiarizing myself with the recipe, I went to the store to buy canned pumpkin and a few more spices. Canned pumpkin is (as far as I've seen) a common item in US grocery stores and is available all year round; this is not the case in Singapore. I'm sure I could find it if I checked other places, but I couldn't be bothered. So, after some substitution confirmation from the internet, I bought half a butternut squash (labeled as butternut pumpkin in SG) to steam and mash on my own. This grocery store also lacked ground cloves, so I grumpily bought mixed spice, a combination of cassia, coriander, caraway, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger. It would have to do.

Home made pumpkin mash, a fresh alternative to canned pumpkin puree.

I mashed out nearly 3 cups from the half a butternut squash. See how I did it here.

Pumpkin Scones
Originally submitted at, submitted by Rachel-Snachel to, and loosely interpreted by me

Yields 16 scones

2 C  all-purpose flour*
scant 1/2 C  sugar
1 T  baking powder
1/2 tsp  salt
1/2 tsp  ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp  ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp  mixed spice (substituted for cloves)
1/4 tsp  ground ginger
1/4 C + 2 T  cold butter
1/2 C  fresh mashed butternut squash
3 T  evaporated milk, buttermilk, or half and half
1  egg

*using 1 1/2 C plain and 1/2 C whole wheat turns out great if you want more nutritional value (a.k.a. fiiiber)

plain glaze
1/2 C + 1/2 T  powdered sugar
1 T  whole milk

spiced glaze
1/2 C + 1 1/2 T  powdered sugar
1 T  whole milk
1/4 tsp  ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp  ground nutmeg
1 pinch  ginger
1 pinch  mixed spice

Dry mix with butter cut in and a well formed (above). You can use a pastry blender or a butter knife in the palm of your hand to cut the butter into the dry ingredients until it looks crumbly. Make a well in the ingredients (a bowl-shaped indent) and pour your wet mix inside (below, top right). Fold until dough just comes together (below, bottom right).
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 F (218 C).
  2. Mix 1/2 C mashed squash with cinnamon, nutmeg, mixed spice, and ginger and refrigerate overnight (you don't really have to let it sit, but I like to think the spices infuse a bit).
  3. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
  4. Cut butter into the dry mix until it resembles coarse bread crumbs. Set aside (in the fridge or freezer if butter bits have warmed).
  5. In a separate bowl, whisk spiced pumpkin, milk, and egg until homogenous (remove any large chunks of pumpkin).
  6. Make a well in the dry mix and pour the wet mix inside. Fold one into the other until the dough just comes together (NO OVER MIXING!).
  7. Form the dough into a ball on a floured surface and divide into 8 equal portions.
  8. Pat each portion to rectangles approximately 3"x2"x1" and cut each into 2 triangles.
  9. Place scones 1" apart on a silicone mat lined baking sheet.
  10. Bake 8-12 minutes or until the tops are light brown and cool on wire racks.
  11. Whisk powdered sugar and milk together to make plain glaze.
  12. Dip tops of scones into glaze and place on wire racks (with silicone mat underneath to catch dripping glaze).
  13. As the plain glaze sets, whisk powdered sugar, milk, and spices together to make the spiced glaze.
  14. Once the plain glaze has set, drizzle the spiced glaze over the scones and allow to set.
  15. Enjoy!
Scones fresh from the oven, pre-glaze.

Pumpkin Scones Reflections

Replacing 1/2 C of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour doesn't do much to affect the taste or texture of the scones. What is does do is add a tiny bit of fiber and make you feel a little better about having a sweet pastry. Next time I make these, I'm going to bump up the whole wheat to replace half the all-purpose flour and see how that goes. Whole wheat flour enthusiasts often recommend replacing half the called for plain flour with whole wheat, but I've had mixed results (sometimes the texture is too rough or dense and sometimes it imparts a slightly bitter flavor). I think it might be okay in the case of pumpkin scones because the texture and flavor of the squash should soften any undesired effects of adding whole wheat.

My friend that didn't like scones? He found these ones to be delicious; the same goes for a crowd of four friends over for a Saturday dinner and the ladies at the office. The Resident Taste Tester? Jonesing for a pumpkin scone fix midweek after we'd run out (luckily I had made round two with whole wheat flour that afternoon).

So there you have it; these scones are amazing and not difficult to make. The most important things to remember when making scones are 1. to keep your butter cold and 2. never over mix. Cold butter allows you to make a crumbly dough, a similar process to making pie crust, and keeps the scone texture lighter. Over mixing develops the glutton, not something you want in this case, and makes the scones tough. Warm butter and a thorough mixing ensures a scone that is less than desirable.

Try this recipe! Do it! You'll like it and so will all of your friends!

Finished scones, posing like ballerina shoes.

UPDATE [13JUN2010]

I tried these without the spiced glaze; I doubled all the spices in the pastries themselves and added just a sprinkle of mixed spice to the plain glaze, drizzling it lightly over the scones. I also just dropped the batter onto silicone mats and gently formed them into little hockey puck shapes. The Resident Taste Tester said the spice could be doubled yet again, which would be yummy, but I think this alteration works just fine in terms of flavor and sweetness.


  1. Bob's Red Mill makes great white wheat pastry flour, and most of the time I can substitute regular flour for it with no problems. I bet the only way you'll get it in Singapore is to internet-order it, which you can do from his website or maybe Amazon.

  2. Strangely enough, we DO get Bob's out here! I haven't looked for the WWP flour, but I'll check next time I'm in the baking aisle. I just bought Bob's cornmeal today and made corn bread muffins to go with our chili.

    X M

  3. Thanks Cherish! They're a crowd pleaser, even for people that generally don't like scones.