There it is! The first Jack-o-Lantern on the neighbor’s step; a sure sign the holidays are coming and that means only one thing around here… Baking! And plenty of it. I don’t usually bake much at home. I’m always watching my carb count and, well, cookies and cake make the numbers light up like a pinball machine. My family is not very good about helping me eat the goodies, either. They prefer chips and salsa (I can’t imagine why). So, that usually means I eat waaay too many myself or throw the surplus out thus, activating the guilt gene that was installed during my childhood. You know, the “starving children in China—no way to mail the cookies—how do I get them there?” That guilt gene.
Holiday time is another story. I can bake and bake and have no worries about leftovers. No, I don’t eat them… all. I give them to neighbors and friends that have been so nice and have shared loaves of homemade bread and veggies from their garden with me through out the year.
You might be asking yourself, “What on earth do you bake in the Southwest?”
Pumpkin and apples and Mexican cinnamon. Chocolate and coffee and vanilla that we drive to Nogales to buy…
Today, I’m starting out easy, (just to get my feet wet) with pumpkin. Pumpkin is one of the Three Sisters out of Native American lore so it is very, very southwest. But, I’m dressing her up in a very familiar, modern way. I’m making Pumpkin Spice Scone Recipe with Cranberries and Homemade Butter. These scones are quick and easy. Just throw them together in the food processor if you wish. They keep very well in the refrigerator over night so that you can bake them off in the morning before school or before you start cooking the Thanksgiving Dinner.
The homemade butter is my addition. It’s something my boys learned in kindergarten and we make it every year. I don’t really like the clotted cream that is so traditional with scones (I know, sorry) and processed butter is just too heavy. This old fashioned way of making butter fluffy and light textured and is a great way to help your kids feel involved with baking. In fact, scones are not supposed to look perfect, so let them pat out the dough and cut out the scones themselves.
- ¾ cup apple cider or orange juice
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- 4 cups all purpose flour
- ¾ cups sugar
- 1½ tablespoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- may substitute 1 teaspoon cinnamon and ½ teaspoon nutmeg)
- 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, very cold
- 15 ounces pumpkin puree
- ½ cup buttermilk
- ¼ cup whipping cream
- Heat apple cider in microwave for 15 to 30 seconds.
- Pour cider over cranberries, set aside.
- Stir flour with a fork to “fluff” up the flour. Gently spoon flour into a measuring cup and level off with the back of a knife. Measure four cups of flour into a large bowl or food processor.
- Add sugar, baking powder, baking soda, kosher salt, and pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon and nutmeg.
- Cut cold butter into half inch cubes. Use a pastry blender or your fingers to blend the butter into the flour. If using a food processor, pulse the butter into the flour until it looks like coarse sand and has pea-sized lumps.
- Gently mix pumpkin puree into the flour mixture. Be careful not to over mix and melt the butter.
- Add buttermilk and whipping cream a little at a time while mixing (or pulsing in the food processor). If your pumpkin puree is very moist, you may not need all the liquid. Mix until the dough begins to come together in a ball.
- Drain cranberries and fold into the dough.
- Turn the dough out onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Shape into a rectangle, wrap in plastic and chill at least one hour or over night.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator and pat out to about one inch thick. Cut into six squares, then cut the squares in half diagonally to form triangles.
- Place on an ungreased baking sheet and bake at 425 for 15 to 20 minutes until lightly golden brown.
- Cool on a wire rack.
- Mix powdered sugar, milk and orange flavoring to make glaze.
- Drizzle glaze over scones that have cooled.
- Makes 12 scones
Children really like being a part of holiday dinner. Making butter is a fun way to involve them and have a dish that they “made” on the table. It is also a great way to really talk with them about the holidays, the way things were made in the “olden” days, or just talk about anything at all.
When I make this with small children, I spread out a comforter on the floor and we sit cross-legged as we take turns shaking the jar of cream. It is helpful to strategically place older children and teenagers between smaller children to help with the shaking and speed the process a little.
This is a great activity to let Dad or older teenagers oversee while you are making dinner.
—posted by Sandy