Pumpkin sage scones – moist buttery crumb, tender sugary crust, and the most delicious, delicate pumpkin flavor, perfumed with mild sage, nutmeg and cinnamon.
Oh, the bliss of biting into a warm, freshly baked, buttery scone, the sugar crust shattering, and the moist, crumbly flesh melting in your mouth…Mmm, it’s simply sublime, especially if there is pumpkin somewhere in there! I don’t know if I can look at another scone the same way, after making these pumpkin sage scones. Their delicate pumpkin taste is perfectly balanced with just the right amount of sweetness, and perfumed with a barely there sage, nutmeg and cinnamon scent.
This gem of a recipe is a keeper, regardless of whether you like pumpkin or not. My daughter who has some anti-pumpkin sentiments lately ate half a dozen of these in one sitting.
Making scones is one of the most rewarding baking experience, you can get. They always come out tasting like they’ve been bought at the best bakery in town, yet they require little fuss, and almost no effort – no dough proofing, no kneading. For such a quick, effortless deal, the rewards are absolutely thrilling.
The only thing you need to remember is to not overwork the dough, and keep it lumpy, with the butter still in small visible chunks, scattered throughout. The butter chunks are what makes the scone fluffy, with a light crumb. So less is more in this case. Also, use cold ingredients, and if the dough feels pretty soft, and warm, place in the fridge, or freezer until it hardens, before you bake it.
I saw this recipe in The Food52 Cookbook: Seasonal Recipes from Our Kitchens to Yours, and I was sold on the spot. It’s a recipe originally developed by a New York bakery – Mrslarkin. I tried two slight variations from the original recipe – with walnuts (because pumpkin and walnuts are best buddies), and with smoked Mozarella (just a fancy idea for a sweet and savory combo). They both turned out great. I did not make a glaze, as I think they are perfect as is. In fact, the beauty of this recipe, is that it’s such a delicate balance of flavors – just the right amount of ingredient, none too overpowering.
The recipe comes with an optional cinnamon sugar glaze though (1 cup confectioners’ sugar, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, and 2 Tbs water). If you lean towards sweeter treats, you can add that, but try them first in their naked, pure glory!
The other great thing you can do with scones in general, is freeze them after cutting them into shapes and store for a few weeks. Then when you need them, take them out of the freezer, and place right in the hot oven, without thawing. I’ve done this with other scone recipes, and it works great. You can make a double batch of the dough, bake half, and freeze the other half.
This recipe makes 16 small scones (not the tiny ones, but smaller than the ones you get at Starbucks). I think they are actually a decent size, and one of these can fill you up just fine.
More pumpkin recipes? Here are a few:
- 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (I used homemade butternut squash puree)
- 6 Tbs brown sugar ,plus more for sprinkling
- 6 Tbs cold unsalted butter ,cut into small cubes
- 1 egg ,plus 1 egg yolk for brushing
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 1 Tbs baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 2 tsp finely chopped fresh sage ,plus more for decorating
- a handful of chopped walnuts (optional)
- a handful of grated smoked cheese (optional)
To make the pumpkin puree, see instructions in this post, or use store-bought pumpkin puree.
Preheat your oven to 400 F.
Add the flour, sugar, spices, baking powder and salt to a food processor and pulse a few times to mix well.
Add the cubed butter and pulse 8 times (1-second pulses) until the butter is still visibly chunky. Transfer to a bowl.
In a separate bowl mix the egg, cream and pumpkin pure.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and lightly mix, until the dough just comes together. Do not knead the dough, just barely mix until you can form a ball. You need to see the butter chunks, as they will provide the tender, buttery interior.
Transfer the dough to a floured surface and divide into two equal portions. Add chopped walnuts to one portion, and shredded smoked cheese to the other (if using).
Form two disks, 4 inches (10 cm) in diameter, 3/4 inch (2 cm) thick, then cut into 8 equal triangles.
Brush the triangles with beaten egg yolk, and sprinkle coarse brown sugar on top.
Optionally, place a sage leave or a walnut piece on top.
Put the scones on a cookie sheet, lined with parchment paper, and bake in the middle rack of the oven for 20-25 minutes.