Pumpkin Spice Scones

pumpkin-scones2

My longtime blog readers (hi Mum and Dad!) will know that pumpkin is the official flavor of October in our house, meaning that I’ll find some way to add the squash of the gods to most – if not all – of my recipes this month. While I got a bit of a late start on my baking this fall (seriously, where has October gone?!), I’m still determined to squeeze at least a couple of pumpkin treats into the mix before turning yet another page on the calendar.

First on the agenda: Pumpkin Spice Scones.

Given that its probably destined for legend status in our family, this recipe deserves a bit of a backstory. My mum – a great lover of scones – has been searching for the perfect pumpkin scone for years (possibly decades). Perfection is, of course, entirely subjective, and she gets that, but she actually had only one relatively simple requirement: she wanted her pumpkin scone to taste like pumpkin. Easy, right? Not so much. Every place she tried – from Starbucks to Trader Joe’s, and every trendy-but-not-nailing-it bakery in between – kept serving up orange-hued scones containing pumpkin pie spice but NO PUMPKIN TASTE. She even tried recipes recommended by family and friends – including those that, thank goodness, contained actual pumpkin – but something was missing. She was getting discouraged, and starting to lose hope (at least about scones). So when my parents came to visit late last month, I was determined to crack the case for my mum and send her home with the best pumpkin scone recipe of.all.time.

I scoured the Internet, as I so often do, for help in this endeavor. Recipes for scones “just like Starbucks!” popped up left and right (no thank you!), and it took me a while to weed through recipes that made no such claim yet still used the same ingredients. I finally stumbled across the winner – and what a winner it was! – from Once Upon a Chef. Mum, meet pumpkin scone perfection!

We’re convinced that a few things about this recipe really make the pumpkin taste stand out, including the use of dark brown sugar (instead of white) and the addition of molasses. Both impart a stronger flavor, which helped these rise (no pun intended) to a different level. We also loved the no holds barred approach to the spices, particularly the cloves. These were, hands down, the best scones we’d ever baked.

Just when we thought they couldn’t get better, along came the glaze. We couldn’t decide between a simple sugar glaze – made using confectioner’s sugar and cream – and a spiced pumpkin version, so … we made both. That’s right – the best scones ever, dipped in two A-M-A-Z-I-N-G glazes (recipes courtesy of Inspired Taste). They were gone in a matter of hours, and I’ve been craving them ever since. The Month of Pumpkin, off to a truly delicious start. Enjoy in moderation!

 

{Better than Starbucks!} PUMPKIN SPICE SCONES

Yields: 12 scones

For the scones:

  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin 
  • 1 large fresh egg
  • 3 tbsp heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp molasses
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 3/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter

For the sugar glaze:

  • 1 cup (125 grams) powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons half and half or cream

For the spiced glaze:

  • 1 cup (125 grams) powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin puree
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons half and half or cream
  1.  Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup pumpkin, egg, heavy cream, molasses and vanilla. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, combine the flour, dark brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. Process for 20 seconds to combine be (sure no lumps of brown sugar remain).
  4. Cut the cold butter into 1/2-inch chunks. Add to the food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal — it should look unevenly crumbly with some pea-size chunks of butter within. Add the pumpkin mixture and pulse just until the mixture comes together. The dough will be very sticky, and you should still be able to see some pea-size clumps of butter.
  5. Lightly flour a clean countertop or work surface. Dump the sticky scone dough onto the floured surface and dust the top lightly with more flour. Using your hands, gently knead the dough until it comes together into a smooth ball. Divide the dough in half. Dust your work surface with flour again and form each half into a 5-inch circle, about 3/4-inch thick. Using a sharp knife dusted with flour, slice each circle into 6 even wedges (cut each circle in half, then cut each half into thirds). If the dough starts to stick to the knife, dust the knife with more flour. Place the wedges on the prepared baking sheet.
  6. Bake the scones for 12-15 minutes. To see if they are done, peek at the bottoms; they should be slightly browned but not burnt. Let the scones cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. Meanwhile, make the glaze(s).
    1. For the sugar glaze, add the confectioner’s sugar to a medium bowl, then add one tablespoon of half and half. Stir, then judge the consistency (the glaze should slowly drizzle from the spoon). If it’s too thick, add a little more half and half (a little goes a long way). If it’s too thin, add a little more confectioner’s sugar. Dip each cooled scone directly into the glaze, then place glaze-side up onto the cooling rack.
    2. For the spiced glaze, combine the confectioner’s sugar, pumpkin puree and spices. Add one tablespoon of half and half, stir, and check consistency (adjust in the same way as you would the sugar glaze). Use a spoon to drizzle a zigzag pattern across each scone. Wait 15 minutes or until the glaze has set, then enjoy!

 

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Habanero Turkey Chili with Honey Buttermilk Cornbread

 

Habanero Turkey Chili

It’s been a long, lonnnng time since I’ve posted to this blog, but I’m happy to be back with new recipes (the result of lots of summer cooking and baking!) this week. Hopefully this post kick starts my lazy blogging bum into gear, and I’ll be back with more recipes in the weeks and months to come!

This spicy homemade chili has been a family favorite for years. Adapted from the recipe for Boilermaker Tailgate Chili on AllRecipes.com, it’s also been my go-to meal for the happy occasions this summer that we’ve welcomed family and friends to our home in southern Germany. Despite the rather intimidating number of ingredients listed, this chili couldn’t be easier to prepare for a large group of weary, jet-lagged world travelers desperately in need of a protein boost. And if the protein doesn’t wake them up, the flavor surely will – this chili is spicy with a capital S. I personally like to take my spice level to the brink of hospitalization, but feel free to tinker with the amount of chili powder added if pepper-induced sobbing just isn’t your jam. (I recommend 2 tablespoons instead of 1/4 cup for those with less heat tolerance.)

And finally, let’s talk about cornbread. I LOVE cornbread. I’ve tried every conceivable type of cornbread known to man or woman, and this recipe is HANDS DOWN the best. It has the rare combination of perfect flavor (not too sweet, not too bland) and perfect consistency (not too cake-like, not too dry). I can’t imagine a better accompaniment to this spicy chili. Enjoy!

 

HABANERO TURKEY CHILI WITH HONEY BUTTERMILK CORNBREAD

Yield | 12 servings

For the chili:

  • 2 pounds ground turkey
  • 1 pound hot Italian sausage
  • 4 (15 ounce) cans chili beans in sauce
  • 2 (28 ounce) cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1-2 habanero peppers, seeded + minced
  • 4 cubes beef (or chicken) bouillon
  • 1/2 cup beer
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1-2 tbsp minced fresh garlic
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp hot pepper sauce
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2-1 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • Sharp cheddar cheese, shredded, to serve

For the cornbread:

  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 tbsp clear honey
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 2 fresh eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp salt

 

To make the chili:

  1. Heat a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Crumble the ground turkey and sausage into the hot pan, and cook until evenly browned. Drain off excess grease.
  2.  Pour in the chili beans, diced tomatoes and tomato paste. Add the onion, habanero peppers, bouillon, and beer. Season with chili powder and remaining ingredients (through sugar). Stir to blend, then cover and simmer over low heat for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  3. After 2 hours, taste, and adjust salt, pepper, and chili powder if necessary. The longer the chili simmers, the better it will taste. Remove from heat and serve, topped with shredded cheddar cheese (or refrigerate and serve the next day).

To make the cornbread:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease an 8 inch square pan.
  2. Melt butter and honey in large skillet. Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Quickly add eggs and beat until well blended. Combine buttermilk with baking soda and stir into mixture in pan. Stir in cornmeal, flour, and salt until well blended and few lumps remain. Pour batter into the prepared pan.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Pumpkin Bread

Pumpkin Bread

 

This recipe for ‘Downeast Maine Pumpkin Bread’ is from allrecipes.com, and really IS worth every 6000+ 5-star review it’s received. I’ve included two versions of the recipe below: one to the (almost) exact specifications of the original, and one lighter version. Both create a soft, moist, amazingly yummy bread that rivals any bakery or cafe loaf.

Please note that these recipes make three 7×3-inch loaves. Both versions freeze quite well – so by all means make a full batch if you’d like – or cut the ingredients in half or into thirds. These also make fantastic muffins, served with a dusting of confectioner’s sugar or cream cheese icing. Or, throw in raisins, chopped walnuts or chocolate for an even richer loaf or muffin. Enjoy!

 

PUMPKIN BREAD (ORIGINAL VERSION)

Yields | 3 3×7-inch loaves

Inspiration | AllRecipes.com

  • 15 ounces pumpkin puree
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 cups caster sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit/175 degrees Celsius. Butter three 7×3-inch loaf pans; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin, eggs, vanilla extract, oil, water and sugars until well blended. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until just blended. Pour into the prepared pans.
  3. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour in pre-heated oven, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of each loaf comes out clean.
  4. Cool in pan for 10 to 15 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack, remove pan, and cool thoroughly.

 

PUMPKIN BREAD (LIGHTER VERSION)

Yields | 3 7×3-inch loaves

  • 15 ounces pumpkin puree
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup sweetened applesauce
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose or whole wheat white flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  1. Follow instructions for original version above.

Rosemary Garlic Focaccia

Garlic Foccacia Bread

For those of my readers that don’t know, my husband and I recently moved from San Diego to the Rheinland-Pfalz region of Germany. We are so excited to be back in this area – a place we also lived from 2010-2012 – and look forward to eating and traveling our way across Europe once again. The only downside of the move is that our household goods – including nearly all of my kitchen gadgets and supplies – are on a boat moving verrrrrry slowly in this direction. Until they arrive in mid-November, most of my posts will feature recipes once included on an old blog of mine. Oldies, but also hopefully goodies!

The last recipe I made before leaving California was this loaf of Rosemary Garlic Focaccia. While cleaning out our fridge for the move, I was determined not to throw away a large bundle of rosemary that a friend had generously offered as a gift from her garden. There are few savory flavor combinations I enjoy quite as much as garlic and rosemary (or garlic and any fresh herb, for that matter!), so this bread was an easy pick. With six cloves of garlic, it packs quite the punch; while that’s right up my alley, you can use less if garlic isn’t really your thing (or you need to speak within six feet of someone in the next 48 hours). As homemade breads go, this is relatively easy – and it soaks up pasta sauce like a dream!

ROSEMARY GARLIC FOCACCIA

Yields | 8 servings

Inspiration | Kiss My Spatula

  • ¼ ounce active dry yeast (1 envelope)
  • ½ cup warm water
  • 1 ½ cup water
  • 4 cups flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • Coarse sea salt
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in ½ cup warm water. Let stand 10 minutes, then add 2 tablespoons olive oil.
  2. Combine flour and ½ teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Strip and chop leaves from 5 of the rosemary branches and stir into flour with chopped garlic. Add yeast mixture and 1 ¼ cups water and stir until dough becomes too stiff to continue.
  3. Turn out dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth. Shape dough into a ball, transfer to a large oiled bowl, and cover with a damp cloth. Allow dough to rise in a warm spot for 2 hours.
  4. Transfer dough to a lightly oiled baking sheet. Knead dough down and press with oiled hands into baking sheet. Cover with a damn cloth and set aside for one hour.
  5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  6. Whisk together remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl. Remove cloth from dough and dimple dough with your fingertips, then brush with oil and water emulsion. Arrange small sprigs of rosemary from remaining 3 branches over dough and sprinkle with coarse sea salt and grated Parmesan cheese.
  7. Bake until golden, 30 to 40 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, baking gods and goddesses!

So I’ve been on a *wee* bit of an Irish cooking/baking spree since last weekend. Besides the Shepherd’s Pie, I also made boxty and colcannon – neither of which lasted long enough to photograph. Oops. I exercised *slightly* more self-control with this recipe for Irish Soda Bread, which – despite enjoying it in Ireland half a dozen times – was my first stab at baking it. Holy deliciousness! It took all of 10 minutes to throw together, and is easily my favorite new recipe of 2015.  I used golden raisins instead of currants – which I’m sure is some kind of soda bread blasphemy – but I thought they were a fantastic substitution. I also brushed the loaf with melted butter three times throughout the 55 minutes it baked, and sprinkled it lightly with sugar. The result was a sweet, crunchy crust and a soft, dense interior. I can’t wait to make it again. Enjoy!

IRISH SODA BREAD

Inspiration: Barefoot Contessa Ina Garten

Yields: 1 loaf

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for currants/raisins
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 4 tbsp (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 3/4 cups cold buttermilk, shaken
  • 1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp freshly grated orange zest
  • 1 cup raisins or currants
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
  2. Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is mixed into the flour.
  3. With a fork, lightly beat the buttermilk, egg, and orange zest together in a measuring cup. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture. Combine the currants or raisins with 1 tablespoon of flour and mix into the dough. It will be very wet.
  4. Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and knead it a few times into a round loaf. Place the loaf on the prepared sheet pan and lightly cut an X into the top of the bread with a serrated knife. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. When you tap the loaf, it should make a hollow sound.
  5. Cool on a baking rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Persimmon Bread

Persimmon Bread

It’s persimmon season!

Don’t worry, I forgot to mark this on my calendar too. In all honesty, I had no idea what a persimmon was until four mysteriously showed up in my Farm Fresh to You box last week. Thank goodness for Wikipedia (it’s not a tomato) and Google (it’s actually a sweet, delicious fruit)! Persimmons can be used in a variety of baked and non-baked goods, including this bread recipe adapted from Allrecipes.com. It’s moist, has a great spice flavor, and is a unique, crowd-pleasing autumn alternative to pumpkin bread. Enjoy!

PERSIMMON BREAD

Yields: 1 bundt cake, 2 full-sized or 4 miniature loaf pans

For the bread:

  • 2 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 fresh eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 cups persimmon pulp
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • Vanilla glaze (optional), recipe follows

For the glaze:

  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 4 teaspoons milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

To make bread:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 degrees Celsius). Grease baking pan(s) well.
  2. In a small bowl, combine flour and baking soda. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine sugar, oil, eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Blend until smooth. Mix in persimmon pulp alternately with flour-baking soda mixture. Fold in nuts.
  4. Divide batter into the prepared pan(s), filling (each) 2/3 full.
  5. Bake for 45-55 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool for another 15 minutes.
  6. If using, spoon vanilla glaze over almost cooled cake. Serve when cooled.

To make vanilla glaze:

  1. Melt the butter and add to rest of ingredients. Mix until creamy and smooth.