Sunday, October 14, 2012

Pumpkin scones

In the middle of a hot summer, life's not easy for pumpkins, which crave for water.

But they survive, and perk up—as sprightly as ever—as soon as the sun goes down. Then, in autumn, the harvest is so impressive that you end up wandering what you might do with all your glorious pumpkins. Well, here's my well-tested suggestion: Make pumpkin scones !

First, you need to produce pumpkin purée. Slice the pumpkin into big pieces. Remove the seeds, but don't touch the skin. Place the pieces on a non-stick tray (called Tefal in France) and bake at 200 degrees for an hour and a quarter. Let the baked pieces cool, then detach the soft pumpkin from the skin and place the fragments in a big bowl.

To transform the baked pumpkin into a purée, the ideal solution is a a gadget such as you see in the above photo. (My daughter Emmanuelle first informed me of the existence of this inexpensive soup-making device, many years ago, and told me that it would change my life... and she was spot on.) I soon had a pile of pumpkin purée.

Pumpkin purée is great stuff in that you can ladle it into plastic bags, each bag holding a cupful of purée, and deep-freeze it for your winter scones. Now, let's look at the recipe for pumpkin scones. At one stage, you'll need an essential ingredient that Americans (world champions in the domain of pumpkin scones) designate as pumpkin pie spice. In France, this product is obtained by mixing together four familiar spices, shown here:

Here's the precise recipe:

— a tablespoon of cinnamon (cannelle)

— a teaspoon of ginger (gingembre moulu)

— half a teaspoon of nutmeg (muscade moulue)

— half a teaspoon of ground cloves (girofle moulue)

Add a pinch of salt and mix. Keep the mixture in a sealed jar. For each batch of pumpkin scones based upon the preparation I'm about to describe, you'll only use a teaspoon of the mixed spices.

Here in France, people who would like to try out superb Anglo-Saxon recipes such as scones are often mystified unnecessarily by the names of three basic ingredients, whose French equivalents are shown here:

For French readers of my blog, here are the explanations:

— So-called buttermilk is simply fermented milk: a Breton product designated as lait Ribot.

— Anglo-Saxon baking powder is simply the French stuff known as levure chimique alsacienne, sold in its familiar little pink paper packets.

— Anglo-Saxon baking soda is simply the French product designated as bicarbonate alimentaire.

In France, these products can be found in your local supermarket. Once you've got everything in place, the preparation of pumpkin scones is quite simple.

Dry ingredients. In a big bowl, mix together 2 cups (260 grams) of flour, a third of a cup (75 grams) of sugar, a teaspoon of spices (as described above), a teaspoon of baking powder (levure chimique), a half-teaspoon of baking soda (bicarbonate alimentaire) and a dose of genuine vanilla.

As far as the vanilla is concerned, a convenient solution is the sachet of powdered vanilla sugar. If you resort to the liquid extract, then a few drops should be added to the moist ingredients (described below). The nec-plus-ultra solution that consists of grinding dried vanilla beans from Madagascar is applicable if you happen to have a son such as my François who visits all kinds of exotic places on his archaic moped.

In the usual pastry-making manner, use a pastry-blender device or a pair of knives to insert 125 grams of unsalted butter (beurre doux) into the flour. Here's a photo of a pastry-blender:

Stir in a generous quantity of raisins (I prefer the soft white variety) and walnuts (from Gamone, of course).

Moist ingredients. In a small bowl, mix half a cup (an 8th of a liter) of pumpkin purée with the same volume of buttermilk (lait Ribot). Stir well.

Insert the moist ingredients into the big bowl of dry ingredients, and stir lazily until everything is humid: just enough, but no more. On a floured board, pat the dough into a flat slab, and cut out eight fragments. Place them in small non-stick pie cups of the Tefal kind: a must for pie-makers.

Flatten each scone in its tray, then brush the top surface with a mixture of an egg beaten with cream. Sprinkle the top of each scone with chunks of pistachio nuts or sesame seeds. Place the Tefal cups on a large Tefal tray, so that the underside of the scones won't be scorched. Bake at 200 degrees C for some 20 minutes. Here's the result:

In all modesty, I have to admit that these are surely the finest scones I've ever tasted. To be eaten with a glass of cool Sauvignon.


  1. Bonjour William,

    Je lis ton blog avec plaisir depuis un moment, et j'apprécie de le lire d'autant plus que je garde de bons souvenirs de mes visites à Gamone, il y a bien longtemps, avec mes parents et mes grands-parents maternels.
    J'ai essayé aujourd'hui cette recette et elle est, en effet, excellente. Au lieu de faire le mélange d'épices que tu préconises, n'ayant pas de girofle moulue, j'ai mis du quatre épices (le mien contient de la girofle, de la muscade, de la cannelle et du poivre) et j'ai ajouté un peu de gingembre moulu.
    Je fais partie d'une AMAP (association qui met en relation un ou plusieurs producteurs locaux et des consommateurs), et cette association a un blog dont je suis chargée, avec d'autres, d'assurer l'animation... Comme en ce moment nous avons du potimarron dans nos paniers hebdomadaires de légumes, j'ai pensé que j'aurais pu traduire cette recette et la mettre sur le blog de l'AMAP, avec un lien vers celui-ci bien sûr. Est-ce possible ?

    Bonne soirée et fais une caresse à Fitzroy de ma part !

    Ta nièce Gabrielle

  2. Quel plaisir, ma chère Gabrielle, de te retrouver dans le contexte de mon blog. Je suis ravi de penser qu'ensemble nous allons promouvoir le phénomène des pumpkin scones en France ! Je t'embrasse. William

    PS Prenons rendez-vous pour une autre surprise gastronomique cet été : les noix vertes confites comme confiserie. J'ai pu en trouver la recette. Je serai impatient de voir si je peux réaliser effectivement ce produit exotique à Gamone.

  3. Merci ! J'ai publié la recette ici : Espérons qu'elle aura un succès mondial :)

    J'espère avoir l'occasion de goûter tes friandises !