Pumpkin Pie Scones with Molasses Icing

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Ok....it's fall, it's colder out, Starbucks has put their crap out and frankly I've never been a fan of their scones; I think they taste like cardboard. Yet, I always buy them, hoping maybe this time it'll taste better. But it doesn't. Then I get frustrated, and I swear off eating another scone again. Which is a shame because I heart scones. Of every shape and size, savory or sweet. But the pumpkin scone I've had so many bad versions of, I just can't...I can't...

A friend of mine posted on Facebook she made a pumpkin scone recipe, but expressed frustration with the result: "not spicy enough...I didn't have cake flour...the icing was off." It was just what I needed to get me out of my pumpkin scone funk. I happened to have a can of pumpkin puree in the pantry, and went to work on this gloomy, chilly Seattle Wednesday to give my friend (and you) the pumpkin scone recipe we all deserve to enjoy this season.

I'm pleased with the results.

There are different kinds of scones -- some flakier, more like biscuits while others are puffier and more cake-like in consistency. I think both are great, depending on what ingredients you're working with and what the ultimate goal is for serving them. These came out more cake-like; the pumpkin puree is automatically going to yield a puffier product whether you're making pie, scones, cake, bread, or cookies. They are super moist and packed with the spices of the season (cinnamon, allspice, clove, ginger, and nutmeg) but without overpowering the delicate sweet pumpkin flavor. The glaze as per my friend's request is flavored with molasses, perfectly complementing the scones both in color and flavor.

I used my secret ingredient for fall baking: crystalized ginger.

Many recipes call for ginger powder or ground ginger; I thoroughly useless spice in my opinion. It completely tastes flat, has zero umpf power that we all know and love of real ginger. The closest you can get to fresh ginger is crystalized ginger -- almost just as powerful, for baking in particular it's even better if you want to include some kind of texture. I often like to surprise people with my baked foods substituting out sprinkles or chips with other ingredients that give the same texture. Here, I used finely chopped crystalized ginger for both amazing flavor and a little surprise of texture in the scone. I think it works. If you hate it, take it out and use 1/2 tsp of freshly grated ginger instead. Throw out the damn powder version. While you're at it, throw out the dried basil and parsley too please. But back to scones...

My scones came out tasting like pumpkin pie but having the consistency of scones, hence my name for them. These are very easy to make and are just delicious with a hot cup of coffee or tea. Just perfect. You can serve them as an afternoon snack or perfect for a brunch or breakfast. Cut them into smaller portions (make 16) and package them up in clear plastic bags with a pretty autumn colored ribbon, add some nice earthy herbal tea and cute mug or tea cup for a lovely gift. These are great for bake sales and parties too! I think I'll make these again come Thanksgiving!

This recipe yields 8 larger sized scones; you can cut them smaller if you like for more adorable bite-sized versions. If you need more don't double the recipe; instead keep making more batches so there's consistency and quality control.

Pumpkin Pie Scones
1/2 cup unseasoned (i.e. plain) pumpkin puree*
1/4 cup half n half (can use milk or heavy cream)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
2 cups all purpose flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp fine salt
2 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground nutmeg or mace
1 tsp ground clove
1 Tbsp finely chopped crystalized ginger (or to taste; I like the smell and taste of ginger)
1/2 cup (usually 1 stick) cold, unsalted butter cut into cubes

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Whisk together the pumpkin, half n half, brown sugar, vanilla and egg in a bowl until just combined. You want a nice, smooth consistency. Set aside.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg/mace, clove, and ginger in the bowl of a standing mixer (or conversely, a very large mixing bow). Stir with whisk or fork to get everything lightly combined. Set aside.

Take the butter and cut it into the flour mixer. If using a standing mixer, simply add the butter and turn on the mixer to speed 2 and mix until butter has been worked into the flour mixture and is the size of larger peas. If doing by hand, use a pastry cutter or fork and manually work the butter into the flour. You want the result to be little pieces of butter coated by the flour mixture; again the size of the butter about the size of peas. Why? These pieces will melt into the rest of the dough during baking, creating flaky and buttery goodness.

Add the pumpkin mixture to the flour mixture and mix until a dough is formed. The dough will be wetter and a little stickier than say a biscuit dough, but considerably firmer than a cake batter.

Add a little flour on a working surface and turn the dough out onto it, then sprinkle a little more flour on top of the dough. Using your hands, work the dough to come together into a nice disk shape about 3/4 of an inch thick. It doesn't have to be perfect, but do try to get as good of a circle or disk shape as you can to make cutting triangles for you later easier!

Cover the dough in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to get cold. Don't skip this step! It will make better scones, allowing the butter to melt properly!

Take the dough out and using a pizza cutter or knife, cut the dough into 8 equal triangles as you would a pizza. Take each triangle and place on the baking sheet. Brush lightly with a little milk or cream, or egg wash if desired, and place in oven. Bake at 425 for about 15 minutes. The scones will puff up nicely, and the tops will just begin to turn golden. The bottoms will be golden brown. They are ready when you can tap on the top and it sounds hollow; if you can't tap on the top it's not done yet.

Let stand to cool completely before adding the icing. The icing will melt and run off of the scones if they are even a little warm.

Serve with your favorite tea of coffee!

*At the store be careful -- they sell pumpkin puree that is plain (the ingredient it literally just pumpkin) and "seasoned" or "flavored" pumpkin -- this version has spices added to it in the hopes of making your pumpkin pie preparations easier. Please use the plain version and go with my recommended measurements of the spices; it will taste much better.  

Molasses Icing
1 cup powdered sugar (no need to sift it first)
1 Tbsp unsulfured molasses
splash of cream or half n half (or milk) -- that's about a tablespoon's worth

Whisk the ingredients all together until smooth and well combined. The more sugar you add the thicker it will be; for thinner consistency add more milk. If you add too much of one or the other it's ok....keep working against the other until you get the consistency you like. But the above measurements should work well enough.

Take the completely cooled scones and using a spoon, take the icing and drag it back and forth over the top of the scone. Hold the spoon about 6 inches high from the top of the scone for a nice effortless effect. Conversely, you can transfer the icing to a plastic or pastry bag and do it that way. But I do like the organic, homemade feel of freehanding it with a spoon.

No comments: