Friday, March 7, 2008

Pumpkin Date Scones

Pumpkin Date Scones

Pumpkin Date Scones

"Remember, there's a wonderful saying (i'm not sure who said it first) that good scone-makers are good in bed too- if you ever needed encouragement to master the art then there you go!" --Belinda Jeffery

"Gently pry any recalcitrant madeleines from their molds using your fingers" --Dorie Greenspan

"a fruit tart...comprises a squidgy filling of creme patissiere with fresh berries on top" --Nigella Lawson

Some cookbooks contain only the bare-bones of directions, listing ingredient values, basic preparation methods, and little else. Others are fully imbued with the personality of their authors. They're packed with anecdotes, descriptive adjectives, and little touches that bring humor and individuality to the writing.

I like it when a cookbook makes me laugh out loud. It's like having a friend in the kitchen.

I don't make scones much, but I liked the idea of pumpkin and dates. The flavor combination seemed right to me, even though I'd never encountered it before. I like these scones; they're substantial and not too sweet. They're also less crumbly than scones with more butter in them- ideal for slicing and spreading with butter or clotted cream.

Pumpkin and Date Scones
adapted from Belinda Jeffery's Mix and Bake

3 cups (450g) all purpose flour
1/4 cup (55g) sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
120g (a little over 8tbsp) cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
150g chopped pitted dates or dried cherries or cranberries
1 cup cold cooked mashed butternut squash or pumpkin
3/4 cup (180ml) buttermilk

1. Preheat your oven to 200C/395F. Lightly dust a sturdy baking sheet with flour and set it aside. (If you don't have a heavy baking sheet, line a lightweight one with parchment.)

2. Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a food processor and whiz them for about 20 seconds so they're thoroughly mixed. Add the butter chunks and whizz everything again until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Tip it into a large bowl. (You can also do this by hand. Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl, then whisk them for about 1 minute. Use your fingers to rub in the butter chunks, lifting your hands as you do to aerate the mixture.)

3. Add the dates to the bowl and toss them about to coat them in the floury mixture. Make a well in the middle of the ingredients. Whisk together the pumpkin and buttermilk and pour them into the well. Stir everything together very gently and quickly. Tip the mixture out onto a floured chopping board and knead it lightly a few times so it comes together- it's pretty sticky. (This mixing and kneading stage is where you need to maintain the proverbial "light hand" to end up with fluffy scones.)

4. Pat the dough out into a round about 1.5 inches (4cm) thick. Dip a scone cutter or a small tumbler into some flour, then stamp out the scones, dipping the cutter into the flour between each one (this helps stop the dough sticking to it). You can also cut the scones into triangles.

5. Sit the scones closely together on the prepared baking sheet. You'll have some scraps left, so gently knead them together and cut out more scones. To finish them you can dust the tops lightly with flour or brush them sparingly with milk or egg wash (1 yolk to 2 tsp water).

6. Bake the scones for 20 minutes. When they're ready, remove them from the oven and wrap them immediately in a clean tea towel (this helps keep them moist**). Let them sit for 5 minutes, then serve the scones with butter.

**This step really works, and I advise following it if you want to freeze and reheat some later. I left a few in the open air and they were much drier.


Rachel@fairycakeheaven said...

These sound fantastic! Dates are so good in scones with their amazing chewy caramel-ness!!! book marked already

ClumberKim said...

Does Nigella define "squidgy"? My husband uses it in reference to Stilton being "not squidgy enough" but cannot tell me, exactly, what that means. Makes it awfully hard to choose the proper wedge of cheese!

Cannelle Et Vanille said...

Just lovely!

Anonymous said...

baked pumpkin treats are one of my favorites. It gives the scones/muffins/cookies great texture and moistness. I too am a fan of the books that have actual personality, like Nigella's and Dorie's. Some spunk is definitely needed.