Friday, December 31, 2010

Pumpkin-Cranberry Scones

I began this month with the intention of posting a recipe for Pumpkin-Cranberry Scones. As always, December has raced by. So I thought that posting the recipe would be a good way to end the month. Admittedly it is a recipe more appropriate for Thanksgiving or Christmas, but I'm not quite ready to let go of the Christmas holiday—our decorations are still up (I always keep them up until Twelfth-Night). I also happened to have part of a can of pumpkin leftover from something else, and since the scones only use a small amount of pumpkin, they are useful (along with pumpkin pancakes and my dog) for using up the end of a can.

You may recall that I didn't post the recipe when I originally wanted to because of a sleepless night spent worrying about my cat. Even though he is still interfering with my sleep via ever new and various methods, I did manage to get all of the ingredients correctly measured and into the bowl this time. I probably shouldn't have blamed him for my original error, but it gave me the opportunity to share his picture. Who would believe this guy could ever cause any trouble?

My recipe for Pumpkin-Cranberry Scones is a variation on my Cream Scone recipe. The thing that makes the cream scone recipe unique is that all of the liquid and all of the fat are supplied by heavy cream. Since replacing some of the cream with pumpkin reduces the overall fat content in the recipe, it was necessary to add some butter to the recipe. The butter is added by rubbing it into the dry ingredients as for a traditional scone. The resulting pumpkin scones have a little less butterfat than the original cream scones.

Besides these changes to liquid and fat, I increased the sugar from 4 to 6 tablespoons—the pumpkin seems to require just a little extra sweetness. If you would like an even sweeter scone, you could add another tablespoon of sugar. I also increased the salt by fifty percent. I was surprised to discover during my testing that the pumpkin seems to demand it. Without the additional salt, the scones tasted flat and uninteresting—even with all of the spices that I added to go with the pumpkin.

When mixing these scones up, they will seem very dry. But this is deceptive. There is something about the thick pumpkin...the liquid it provides is slow to be absorbed by the dry ingredients. Once you have added all of the liquid called for in the recipe, poke the shaggy/crumbly dough that is forming. If it is very soft, there is enough liquid in the dough and it will continue to be absorbed by the dry ingredients. If the forming dough feels tight or firm, dribble in a little more cream. But be careful. It is surprising how quickly theses scones go from appearing to be dry and unmanageable to being wet and sticky and unmanageable.

Pulling the dough together is accomplished out of the bowl and on the counter. But the "kneading" process is not really a traditional knead. Because the initial dough is so shaggy, the process is really more of a gathering and pressing followed by a slight rocking motion—not the lift-fold-press-turn of a typical knead. Kneading as it is traditionally understood will overwork these scones, making them tough and dry. As soon the dough comes together in a cohesive ball, you should stop working the dough.

Finally, because the liquid in these scones is so slow to be absorbed, I like to give the scones a brief rest/chill in the refrigerator before baking them. This rest will allow the liquid to be more evenly absorbed, the developed gluten to relax and the butter to firm up. The finished scones will be more tender as a result.

I'm sorry to be so late posting this recipe, but I hope that there will be some bakers out there who, like me, are still in the mood for pumpkin baked goods. But if you are not among them, that's ok, there's always next year.

Pumpkin & Cranberry Scones

2 c. all-purpose flour (230 grams)
1 T. baking powder
6 T. Sugar
3/4 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. ground ginger
1/4 t. ground cloves
1/4 t. nutmeg
4 T. Unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
3/4 c. dried cranberries
6 T. pumpkin purée (95 grams)
2/3 c. heavy cream, plus more for brushing the formed scones
Turbinado Sugar

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and spices. Using your fingers, or a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the dry mixture. Add the dried cranberries.

Whisk together the heavy cream and the pumpkin. Slowly stir the dry ingredients with a rubber spatula while gradually pouring in the cream-pumpkin mixture, continuing to stir until a soft, very shaggy dough is formed.

If necessary, add more cream to help the dough come together. But be careful, the dough will go from looking too dry to being too wet to handle very quickly. It is better to err on the side of too dry.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead 3 or 4 times, just to bring the dough together into a soft ball. Divide the ball of dough into two pieces. Use your hands to press each ball of dough into a disc that is 1-inch thick. With a sharp, floured knife, cut each disc into 6 wedges

and place the wedges an inch or so apart on an un-greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush each scone with some cream and sprinkle generously with the raw sugar.

The scones may be baked immediately, but they are more tender and will be more well-shaped if chilled for 30 to 60 minutes before baking. This helps any gluten formed to relax and also firms up the butter.

Bake in the upper third of a preheated 425°oven until golden brown and springy to the touch—about 12 to 15 minutes.

Makes 12 small scones.

  • For a larger scones, form all the dough into a single ball and pat out into a 1-inch thick round.  Cut each round into 8 wedges.
  • If your oven has very strong bottom heat, either bake these in the upper third of the oven…or use and insulated baking pan (or two pans stacked together).  
  • To work ahead...or simply have the option to bake one or two at a time...mix and form the scones, then place the pan in the freezer until the scones are frozen solid.  Transfer to freezer bags.  To bake, place the scone(s) on an appropriate-sized baking sheet and bake in a preheated 375-degree oven until golden brown and springy to the touch...about 25 minutes.  The frozen, unbaked scones will keep in the freezer for 6 weeks.

1 comment:

Katrina said...

Happy New Year, Paige!
I've never met a scone with your recipes made by lots of people I know that I didn't like!