Let’s talk pumpkin and scones, shall we?
As you know from previous posts, I have some opinions about pumpkin and pumpkin-flavored things. Mainly, I’m often disappointed by the lack of actual pumpkin flavor that comes through many pumpkin desserts, or the ungodly amounts of sweetener added to pies, cakes, and the like. If I can’t taste the pumpkin, I might as well order a different flavor altogether.
I feel similarly about scones, as I discussed with a scone-loving market-goer this season. Scones are supposed to be light, fluffy, lightly-sweetened affairs that you can enjoy by themselves, or dress up with jams, honeys, and other condiments. However, lots of flavored scones are basically fluffy cookies: overly sweet, overly glazed, and overstuffed with too many add-ins. (I confess, I made a scone this year that committed these sins. I shan’t be making it again.)
Pumpkin and scones, then, are a perfect match: lightly-sweetened and spiced scone dough allows pumpkin’s flavor to shine, and pumpkin adds in moisture and flavor to keep scones lightly-textured and lightly-flavored. If you’re looking for a super-sweet, pumpkin-pie-like experience with these scones, you’ve come to the wrong place. But if you’re looking for a fluffy orange biscuit for your morning or afternoon tea that you can drizzle with a bit of honey or molasses, this is your sign.
This recipe is very similar to my original scone recipe, with a few tweaks (other than adding pumpkin). One, I replace the sugar with molasses, because molasses is delicious and pairs well with pumpkin, and I use less of it, to keep the moisture content from getting too crazy. Two, I reduce the amount of buttermilk to account for the pumpkin’s added moisture to the dough. As I write in the recipe note, this dough is stickier than the original scone recipe’s dough, but as long as the dough holds its shape on the pan, it will fluff up beautifully like a plainer scone.
As an added bonus (at least in my opinion), these scones tend to be bigger than their plainer cousins, since they have more stuff. Yay!
Onwards to sconing!
Pumpkin Molasses Scones
The dough will be a little wetter than other scone recipes - this is okay, as long as they hold their shape. You can also use many different kinds of winter squash purees in place of pumpkin here - butternut, candy roaster, and the like - with excellent results.
you will need:
- 2 c all-purpose flour, plus more for sprinkling
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- pinch of freshly-grated nutmeg
- 5 tbsp cold salted butter, cut into cubes
- 1 c pumpkin or winter squash puree, preferably homemade
- scant 1/4 c molasses (meaning, a bit less than ¼ c), plus 1 tbsp for the glaze
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- ⅓-½ c buttermilk, plus 1-2 tbsp for the glaze (you can sub milk or sour milk)
- ¼ c pumpkin seeds or finely chopped toasted walnuts (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper, or lightly grease it.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and baking powder. Cut in the butter using a pastry cutter or two forks until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. You can also do this step in the food processor, with 3-4 pulses. If using seeds or nuts, fold them into the dry mixture.
- Whisk the egg, pumpkin puree, and molasses with ⅓ c of the buttermilk, then fold the wet mixture into the flour mixture enough to get a solid, fairly sticky dough, adding buttermilk a little bit more at a time as needed to achieve this.
- Turn dough onto a lightly floured countertop, sprinkle the dough with flour, and lightly knead the dough until it just comes together. (If your dough is so sticky that it doesn’t hold its shape, you can lightly knead more flour into it until it does.) Pat it into a circle about 10 inches diameter and 1 ½ inches thick. Cut the dough into eight equal wedges. You can also pat it into a square and cut 4 smaller squares, then cut those squares in half to make triangles.
- Transfer each wedge to the prepared baking sheet, spacing each wedge about 2 inches apart. Mix together 1 tbsp molasses with 2-3 tbsp buttermilk to make a glaze. Brush the tops of the wedges with glaze. Bake at 450 degrees F for 10-12 minutes until the scones are golden brown. Remove from the oven to a cooling rack, allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer the scones to a cooling rack to cool completely, about 20 minutes.