As autumn continues we find ourselves needing more inspiration in the kitchen. We are easily bored by the doldrum ideas that consume us during this time of year. The same baked goods we make on a daily basis. Each week. Each month. Throughout the year we find ourselves getting into a rut. One that we cannot seem to get out of until the arrival of the holidays. We end up growing tired of the boring recipes we make on a regular basis. And why shouldn’t we? After all we are creatures of habit and when something we make is good, we end up making it all the time until we get bored of it. Until those around us get bored of it. We need something different. Something new. Perhaps it is the spirit of the holidays that make us become so adventurous in the kitchen. The fact that our loved ones will all come together, and we want to impress them with our culinary skills. We look out to find new recipes that are a little bit fancier than what we are accustomed to. Recipes that are little more impressive and labor intensive. Yet we go into the unknown waters, so to speak, with caution and hesitation. We begin to question our skills as if not knowing what we are capable of. Yet we tread on with persistence because the idea of failing is much more inviting than the idea of not trying at all. Cooking and baking disasters are not things we should be ashamed of. Rather they should be looked upon as learning experiences. Situations that help us grow as cooks.
With the holidays fast approaching, we spend most of our time preparing for the big celebration. The grand dinner on the last Thursday of November. All of our attention goes to preparing the main event. We make a blueprint and plan out what we have to do and at what time we have to do it. Some of us are lucky, or perhaps just smarter, and we realize that we do not have to cook it all ourselves. So we divvy up the roles and assign different dishes to different friends and family. While everyone is so consumed on the turkey, the sides, the gravy and cranberry sauce, and the desserts some things are forgotten. Some things are left out. We become so invested in planning out the perfect meal and have become experts in mapping out the cooking and prepping times that go into it all, that one thing is neglected. The big day finally arrives and you begin your preparations before the sun even comes out. As the morning progresses and everyone starts waking up, you realize that you do not have time to make breakfast. That was one part of the day you did not plan out. The last thing you want to do, at this point, is go out and brave the supermarkets with all the other last minute and forgot-something shoppers. You do not want to deal with that madness or with the cranky cashiers who would much rather be home with their family and friends, enjoying the day relaxing instead of working.
You look around in your pantry and in the refrigerator and you cannot seem to think of anything. Mornings are usually brought to us by breads like coffee cake, bagels, english muffins, and scones. You go through all the different possible situations in your head. Just when cereal begins to look like your best bet, you think of an idea. Scones. Sure, you can make them. Scones are easy to put together. You have time for that. Look at your perfectly planned out schedule. You have time. You grab a few ingredients from the fridge and some from the pantry. Of course it is Thanksgiving morning and you do not want anything ordinary. You are still looking to impress. Still adventurous. Two ingredients stand out to you like beacons of light. Pumpkin and cranberries. Thankfully you stocked up on both for the big event. You mix the dry ingredients into a large bowl. Flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and other autumnal spices, and combine the wet. Toss in the cranberries and mix in the pumpkin, stirring until just combined. Quickly and efficiently you put together the dough and shape it. You proceed to cut it into scone-like triangles, and bake them for about 20 minutes until the house is filled with the warmth smell of fall. Coffee peculating. Marveling at yourself for whipping up breakfast in a cinch, you cannot help but wonder, how you would have made Julia Child proud. Heck, you would even have made Martha Stewart proud with the cranberry and pumpkin addition. Okay that’s enough self-apprecition, you still have a long list of to-do’s to get done. So get back to work.
You can be super cool and dedicated if you’d like and do this all by hand. I have aversions to such manual labor, and in the age of kitchen gadgets galore, why not just use a mixer?
Granted, I’m not an animal, I know some people out there do not have mixers. I feel sorry for that population. But just think of how much stronger you are without one. If we were all left in a world without power, for some unexplainable reason, those of us who use mixers for everything would have a hard time adjusting.
Moral of the story: Don’t have a mixer, it makes you dependent.
I’ll have a hard time adjusting. Especially since I’m using a mixer for this recipe.
Drop in the flour.
Now we need to add the rest of the dry ingredients.
In this order, or in any order you’d like.
Brown Sugar Baking Powder Cinnamon
Nutmeg All-Spice Salt
Once all the dry ingredients are added, stir to combine.
When the dry ingredients are mixed, grab a very very cold stick of butter.
**Note: It is very important to have the butter be super cold, this is key to the scones rising in the oven. The little bits of cold butter throughout the dough puff up when baking, making for flakier scones.**
Dice the butter into small cubes.
Try not to let your paws touch the butter that much as the heat from your hands could warm the butter.
Quickly add the butter to the dry ingredients, and mix until the mixture resembles course crumbs about the size of peas.
You’ll know it is well-blended and ready to go, when it holds semi-together when you grab it.
Add the cranberries.
Give it a quick stir.
At this point, with the butter in crumbles, we’re working rather fast because we want to keep the butter as cold as we possibly can.
Okay, that’s done. Forget about it for a minute.
We’re ready to turn our attention to the wet ingredients.
Crack the eggs into a medium bowl.
There is some debate as to whether or not you should add eggs to scones. I’m drawn towards the middle. I’ve done both recipes, one with eggs and one without. There are some notable differences, but either way it’s delicious. These pumpkin scones, I feel, require the eggs and the crumbly texture it gives them.
Lightly whisk the eggs. This will make the mixing process easier later on.
Next up, the heavy cream.
Pour the heavy cream into the eggs.
Give it a whisk.
Whisk it up.
And now, can I have a drumroll please……………….for the star ingredient.
I promised November posts will have this ingredient in each recipe, do you know what it is?
Well, if you guessed pumpkin, then you are right. It’s pumpkin.
What I have here is homemade pumpkin purée. Sure you can use the store bought stuff. The one in a can. The one where you don’t know how long its been in that can and what kind of preservatives have been added to make sure it doesn’t spoil in that can.
Of course, it’s convenient because it’s there, readily available for you. I can’t say that I blame you for wanting to use it.
However, wouldn’t you much rather want to use something fresh? Something that you’ve made yourself and know exactly what’s in it?
You must be thinking, “Jonathan it’s so hard to make my own pumpkin purée. It takes hours and hours.” My answer to that is, not at all! It’s the easiest thing ever, and lucky for you I have a post on how to make your own homemade pumpkin purée. Just click here.
It’s the easiest thing to make. When pumpkins are in season, I always make a bunch of this purée every week and keep it in the fridge. I use it all the time. I think you should do the same. Follow my easy instructions and you’ll see the difference.
But I do know that you all have lives and sometimes time doesn’t permit such fancy extravagances, so if you don’t have time to make your own or you forgot to make your own and all you have is canned pumpkin on hand and you really just want to make these delicious scones—I don’t blame you, they are very delicious—then by all means just use the canned pumpkin. I’ll forgive you, this one time. You get one pass and you’re using it now.
Anyhow I digress, let’s go back to the scones. Add the pumpkin to the cream and eggs and whisk until completely incorporated.
So now we have our wet ingredients whisked, and our dry ingredients mixed.
They both are separate and our goal is to combine them.
Add the wet ingredients into the dry.
It is very important not to over mix at this stage.
Turn on the mixer on low and mix until just combined.
You’ll know when to stop the mixer, or when to stop mixing by hand, when the dough comes together and looks like this.
It will be a slightly sticky dough, don’t be alarmed. It is correct.
Turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface.
Fold the dough onto itself about 5-8 times until it comes together and becomes smooth.
Working rather quickly, shape the dough into a circle, about 3/4 of an inch thick.
When the scone dough has been shaped into a circle, you are ready to cut it.
You’ll make 8 jumbo triangles, but I guess you can also make 16 small scones, if you’d like. Although the jumbo are tempting, no?
Place the scones on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or one of those silicon non-stick mats if you have one.
I’m not that fancy so I just use good ol’ parchment paper. I need to get with the times though, I know.
You can brush the scones with an egg wash if you’d like, I prefer brushing them with a little bit of heavy cream. Why? Decadence my friends, decadence.
Bake these in a 350° oven for about 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
The scones are now done. You can place them on a cooling rack and allow them to cool off before chowing them down.
At this point these scones are mighty delicious, as they are. You could eat them now and enjoy the best cranberry pumpkin scones you’ve ever eaten in your life.
However, and this is a big however, you could also take them to a whole other level and make a citrus glaze for them.
Don’t over think it, just make the glaze. You know you want to. It will be delicious I promise.
To the powdered sugar add:
Butter (Slightly Melted)
Orange Juice (Freshly Squeezed Please)
And that’s it. Those are the ingredients for the glaze.
Easy and simple, you have this stuff at home, surely.
Whisk it all together until smooth.
**Tip: If it is too thick, add a bit of milk, just a splash. Remember that you can always add more, but you can never take some back. Keep adding a tiny bit of milk and whisk until the desired consistency is reached. I like it sort of thick but not thick as frosting, and sort of runny but not too runny that it will run down the sides.**
Grab a butter knife or a spreader and spread the glaze over each scone.
Spread each scone with the desired amount of glaze.
This is really really good glaze, so I spread it on thick.
You don’t have to, and again you don’t have to add the glaze if you don’t wish to. But try it, and then let me know if it’s good or not.
Allow the glaze to harden somewhat, and then serve and eat.
They are ready.
Let the eating commence.
People often tell me that they only eat scones in the morning. Sure they are a morning treat, but most of the time I normally never eat them in the morning.
I always think of scones as a midday snack or an after dinner treat. I don’t have the biggest sweet tooth, so I like scones as a dessert because they are not overtly sweet.
I also really like scones because the recipe can be a blank canvas. You can literally add any flavorings you’d like and most of the time it would taste pretty awesome, no matter what you added.
Granted some things should never be inside scones. But there are some flavors that are just perfect for scones.
Like some of the ones I’ve done in the past here:
These pumpkin cranberry scones are a great autumn treat. Especially because during this time we are all finding new ways to use pumpkin.
Ways that don’t involve pie.
It isn’t just the pumpkin or the cranberries that make these scones so irresistible. I mean sure they are the two star ingredients, but I think that there are other ingredients that work so well together to make these so delicious. Such as the cinnamon and nutmeg and all-spice.
Those ingredients really pull everything together. These spices give them the autumn warmth that we are all looking for. I wish that I could just make them star ingredients as well, but then I’d end up with a really long name for the recipe.
Cinnamon Nutmeg All-Spice Pumpkin Cranberry Scones, just doesn’t have the same ring to it as Pumpkin Cranberry Scones.
Plus, I’m sure that many people would get tired of saying the entire name. Could you imagine people using it though?
“Oh I’m going to make Cinnamon Nutmeg All-Spice Pumpkin Cranberry Scones today.” They would just go around baking these scones for people. They’d bring them into the office and say, “I made Cinnamon Nutmeg All-Spice Pumpkin Cranberry Scones for you guys.” I think that would be awesome.
Sadly I’m sure other people will disagree. So let’s call them Pumpkin Cranberry Scones. Secretly we’ll know that the cinnamon, nutmeg and all-spice are the real stars. We won’t tell anyone. No, we’ll keep it to ourselves.
Whatever you want to call them, it doesn’t matter, just make them. Make these scones because you want to try something different, and delicious.
Make them because you’re sick of pumpkin pie (not really) and want to have a new pumpkin treat to obsess over.
Pumpkin Cranberry Scones
Yield: 8 large or 16 small scones.
- 2 – 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon all-spice
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cold and diced
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup heavy cream, plus two tablespoons for brushing
- 1/2 cup homemade pumpkin purée, or canned
- Orange glaze, (optional) recipe follows
1. Preheat oven to 350° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
2. You can make this by hand and it would be rather simple to do. However, if you have a stand mixer, feel free to use that. In a large bowl combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, all-spice, baking soda, and salt. Stir to combine.
3. Add the diced, cold butter and mix, on low, until the mixture resembles course crumbs about the size of peas. If you are doing this by hand, you can use a pastry blender to cut the butter into the dry ingredients. When the butter is broken down into smaller pieces, add the cranberries and mix just until combined.
4. In a small bowl, mix together the eggs, 1/2 cup heavy cream, and pumpkin purée. Whisk until completely smooth. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the wet mixture. Stir until just combined. Be careful not to over mix at this point, that could result in dry scones. The dough will be slightly sticky.
5. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Lightly knead the dough a few times, until it comes together and the stickiness has gone away. Working rather quickly so as to keep the butter bits cold, shape the dough into a large circle about 3/4 of an inch thick. Cut into 8 large triangles. If you are making smaller scones, cut each triangle in half so you end up with 16 smaller triangles.
6. Place the scones on the prepared baking sheet and brush with the remaining heavy cream. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking to ensure even browning, until the edges are golden brown. Some people tell me that when they bake only have of their goods are browned and ask what they are doing wrong. Most ovens don’t have convection cooking which is a vent that distributes the heat evenly, so you must rotate the baking sheets halfway through baking to ensure that your baked good brown and cook evenly.
7. Once golden brown, remove from the oven and place on top of a cooling rack for about 5 minutes. Then transfer the scones to the rack, directly, and continue cooling. Top with the orange glaze and allow the glaze to harden before eating. Serve warm or store in an airtight container, once completely cooled, and keep at room temperature for up to 5 days. Although good luck keeping them for five days. Enjoy.
Yield: About 1 cup
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon butter, softened
- 2 teaspoons finely shredded orange peel
- 2 tablespoons orange juice
- splash of milk, if too thick
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk until completely smooth. If the glaze is too thick, add a splash of milk and whisk. Add only a little bit of milk and a time and mix well after each addition. Continue those steps until the desired consistency is reached.