Pumpkin & Toasted Chestnut Scone Yumminess

As a general rule, Dom cooks our evening meals and I am the baker in the house. I have been baking cookies, cakes, and bread since I was a teenager, but there is one baked item that has always intimidated me. As a consequence, I find that I crave them excessively: scones. I have tried making them on several occasions each more disastrous than the last resulting in rocks or dusty lumps tasting of baking powder. 

When I came across a recipe for pumpkin scones, I got my nerve up to try it. Pumpkin is such a versatile vegetable perhaps it would make for a more forgiving creation. We had some leftover roasted chestnuts which were screaming to be added.

Imagine my complete surprise when the most gorgeous lightly-browned triangles emerged from the oven. But, as we all know, looks aren’t everything - the “proof is in the pudding” in this case the pumpkin, egg and milk mixture. I brewed some coffee and plucked up the courage to try one. A wonderful spicy steam escaped as I broke open the scone elevating my hopes of success. I took a bite and (insert a drum roll here) YUM! Oh man, these are miraculous scones! Bookmark this page. NOW!

Pumpkin Chestnut Scones
  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ginger
  • ¾ cup (6 oz.) cold butter
  • ½ cup canned pumpkin 
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • ½ cup roasted chestnuts, toasted

Preheat oven to 425oF. Place chopped roasted chestnuts on a cookie sheet and toast in the oven while it pre-heats. Shake the pan a few times to evenly distribute heat. Toast them for about ten minutes and then remove from oven and allow to cool before chopping and adding to the dough. They will get crisper as they cool.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and spices in a large mixing bowl. Cut in COLD butter. When the mixture is crumbly and no obvious chunks of butter are visible, set aside.

[The purpose of “cutting in” is to create evenly-sized pieces of butter, coated with flour distributed throughout the dough.  When these little pieces of butter melt, they create layers of flakiness. In some recipes it’s the little pockets of steam that are important. (Remember the spicy steam I mentioned above?) It helps to cut the cold butter into small pieces first and then toss them separately into the flour making sure they each get covered in flour before you start “cutting.” There’s several ways to actually cut in the butter. I used a pastry blender made specifically for this purpose. My mom uses two butter knives moving them in opposite directions (kind of like a sharpening motion) actually cutting the butter. A fork works too, but be careful not to over “mash” the butter.]

In a separate bowl, whisk together pumpkin, egg and milk. Then gently fold the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and chopped chestnuts. Do not over mix or you will defeat the purpose of cutting in the butter.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, forming a circle that is about 1″ thick. Cut the dough into equally-sized triangles. My dough was a bit wet and sticky, but when I made the triangles they held together with no problems. The recipe says it should make six, but I ended up with 8 generously sized scones.

Transfer dough triangles onto a parchment-lined baking sheet using a spatula. Reshape if needed before baking. (Or, do it the lazy way and drop blobs with a tablespoon that are about the size you want, and then flatten and shape them.) Sprinkle the tops with a bit a sugar for sweet crusty tops.

Bake in a preheated oven for 14-16 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool (if you can wait that long!!)