wholemeal pumpkin scones with maple pecan butter

sconesls

I was given a pumpkin last week. An organic, home grown butternut, with white sap still oozing from its freshly cut stem. Now, in regular circumstances, gift acceptance isn’t permitted in my line of work. However, at the tail-end of a poignant home visit in the late afternoon, I’m less likely to object. Particularly if the said gift is from the garden.

pumpkinraw2

This particular pumpkin was grown by the husband of a woman with whom I’ve been working for over six months. He passed away last week, completely unexpectedly. He was his wife’s main carer; a strong, coarse man of eighty three who spent his career working as a truck driver. In his later years, he developed a passion for home-grown produce, cooking and preserving; in part, to nourish the health of his languishing wife.

Now she is here, and he is not. All that remains is a pile of matter, an empty ache, memories and a nourished garden. His name was John.

pumpkinroasted

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On Wednesday afternoon, I arrived home with John’s pumpkin in my worn leather handbag. I felt a certain amount of responsibility to do it ‘justice’, seeing as it was the last of his beloved crop. I ran my hands over the smooth exterior, removing clumps of dirt with sentimental fingers before placing it in my vegetable box. There it stayed for my remaining day of work before the long weekend.

On Good Friday morning, I woke early. I poured a bowl of oats and sat, notepad in hand, as the sun illuminated the plant pots on our balcony. I chewed reflectively, jotting down baking ideas, herb combinations and general recipe thoughts. Upon emptying my bowl, I felt settled on a combination of mashed pumpkin, coconut sugar, pecans and maple, tumbled in a bowl of wholemeal flour. Scones it would be.

flour

bussoeggs2The following recipe was created according to my personal preference for nourishing, whole wheat baked goods* that can later be slathered in smooth nut butter. The extra pinch of baking powder ensures a sufficient, gentle rise and a fluffy, moist crumb.

If you prefer the more traditional flavour of Lady Flo Bjelke-Petersen’s pumpkin scones (for those overseas, Lady Flo was the wife of a Queensland parliamentarian who was famous for her home baking), exchange the wholemeal flour for refined white self-raising and substitute the coconut sugar for white sugar. Those with a sweet tooth might also appreciate a drizzle of raw honey upon the subtly sweet, nutty maple pecan butter.

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It’s the kind of deliciousness that takes me back to my childhood days in the sunshine. I like to think that John would have approved.

*I probably would have used spelt flour if I had it, so feel free to exchange quantities if you have some residing in your cupboard (150g spelt flour is equivalent to 1 cup wheat flour; add 2 tsp baking powder per 150g).

tray

Wholemeal Pumpkin Scones

Makes approximately 18 round 6-cm diameter scones

  • 2 1/2 + 1 cups wholemeal self-raising flour
  • 1 cup mashed pumpkin (preferably roasted rather than boiled, cool before using)
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 1 large free-range egg
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • good pinch of sea salt
  • good pinch of baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon and 1/4 tsp nutmeg (optional)
  • 1/2 cup milk (almond, soy or dairy all work well)

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C (390 degrees f). Lightly dust two flat baking trays with plain flour.

Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl. Add the egg, milk and mashed pumpkin.

Sift the flour, baking powder, spices (if using) and salt together into a large bowl. Make a well in the centre, then add your liquid ingredients.

milkflour

Mix together with your hands, adding a little more flour if required (from the extra cup listed in the ingredients) until you have a soft but workable dough.

dough

Turn out onto a floured surface, knead until smooth. Flour your rolling pin, then roll the dough out to a 2cm thickness. Cut into squares or rounds (I used a 6-cm diameter glass), re-rolling your dough as required.

cutting

Place the scones onto your prepared baking trays, 1cm apart. Sprinkle tops with a little plain flour. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until risen and slightly golden. Serve hot with a generous slather of maple pecan butter (recipe to follow).

pecans

butter

Maple Pecan Butter

I personally use 2-3 tsp maple syrup in my maple pecan butter for a gentle hint of sweetness, however during taste tests several commented that they’d like it a bit sweeter. Taste, contemplate and add a little more maple syrup if it’s your preference.

  • 100g unsalted butter, softened
  • 3-4 tsp pure maple syrup (to taste)
  • 1 cup toasted organic pecans
  • pinch of sea salt
  • pinch of cinnamon, optional

Blend 3/4 cup pecans into a fine ground using a food processor. Add the butter, blend again until smooth and fragrant. Add the maple syrup, salt and cinnamon to taste (start with 2 tsp maple syrup, taste and work your way up – I was happy with 2 tsp but most thought otherwise!). Crush the remaining pecan nuts in a mortar and pestle into a coarse ground, add to the butter mixture.

Refrigerate for 30 minutes prior to using. Wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, or in the freezer for a month.

sconesaerial2 bite

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69 responses

  1. These look heavenly Laura…..so heavenly! I love that you used both maple syrup and coconut sugar, those are pretty much the only sweeteners I use, they are so pure and taste way better than white sugar! These scones look like perfection and I can just imagine the amazing smells coming out of your kitchen!! And that maple butter?? WOW! YUM!

    • Thanks Jen. I thought a lot about John when writing this post. Losing people is an aspect of my job that will never get easier. I appreciate the lovely words x

  2. I also like things not too sweet, and full of wholesome goodness. This looks just like the kind of scones I would bake, except yours look way better! :-)
    Have a wonderful Easter!!

    • Hi Reggiorif, thanks so much. I’ve only tried pecans and walnuts so far, both of which have similar oil content; they’re both equally delicious and the texture of the finished butter is the same. I do think that almonds would work similarly though! As per the recipe, taste the mixture and add maple syrup to taste as you go x

  3. Laura. . what a beautiful, beautiful post! My heart goes out to John’s wife .. it’s never easy when your spouse passes . . and especially when it’s unexpected. I hope and pray that she is surrounded and comforted by loved ones during this time of mourning. What a beautiful recipe, post and tribute to John!

    • Thanks so much Alice, I really appreciate your kind thoughts. It’s funny, I could never really relate to the passing of a spouse until I got married myself. Now I feel terribly when I work with someone who loses someone close to them. She and her family will definitely appreciate your prayers xx

  4. Hi Laura, so sorry to hear of your friend’s passing. I’ve no doubt you’ve done this lovely pumpkin the truest justice. I love the beautiful pictures of this freshly roasted from your oven, along with that airy dusting of flour over the top of the dough. They look truly delicious.

    • Thanks beautiful. Ah, I tried to do it justice! Glad that you liked the photos, I was definitely pleased with the bright pumpkin ones. Wholesome deliciousness x

  5. These are lovely, Laura, both the scones and the sentiment. I’m loving the spray of flour on the lids of the baked scones – I f
    can feel its warm dustiness on my fingers.

    • Thank you lovely. Yeah, it’s strange… it’s only a vegetable but yet I felt so strongly about it due to the memory attached. I’m glad you liked the post x

    • Thank so much Liz. Nope, the plate is one of a dinner set that I bought when I moved into my own apartment five years ago. It’s from Johnson Bros. I love antiques but can’t really afford the genuine article (other than the odd piece here and there) so I snapped up the opportunity to buy an antiqueish dinner set for a lower price! x

    • Thanks so much. I tried to, he cared for his garden so well during life so I wanted each part of the harvest to be treated respectfully :) I appreciate the comment John.

  6. Laura, what a loving homage to John. Please tell his wife, even though we don’t know one another, that she is in my thoughts.

    The scones look wonderful, but the maple pecan butter hit this Vermont-hearted boy right where it counts!

    • Oh, I appreciate this comment so much John. I’ll definitely pass on your warm wishes. Haha… yep, the maple and pecan is a winning combination, even for this Brit-born Aussie-raised girl! Hope that you and Mark had a wonderful Easter x

  7. Dear Laura, I agree entirely with David – this is such a lovely hommage to John who so lovingly planted the vegetable garden to nourish his wife and himself. The scones sound delicious and I love to bake with spelt flour but also with wholemeal flour but I have never used coconut sugar in my baking before. I wonder whether it adds a bit of coconutty flavor to these lovely scones. By the way butternut squash is my favorite squash, the color and taste are unbeatable. And, of course, I adore your photograhy and the maple pecan butter which I must try come fall.
    Thank you for such a wonderful post!
    I would like to take the opportunity and wish you and your family a very Happy Easter!
    Andrea

    • Thank you beautiful. I really appreciate this thoughtful reflection. The coconut sugar doesn’t really add much ‘coconut flavour’, it’s more just a slightly caramelish, fragrant brown-sugar sort of addition to baking. I love it! Hope that you enjoy the recipe if you try it. A very happy Easter to you and your family too Andrea xx

  8. I think you definitely did the pumpkin justice! This recipe looks great, and as always your photography is flawless. I’ll have to make a gluten free version of this soon!!

    • Oh Michelle, thanks heaps. I always forget that butternut pumpkin is called squash in the USA. I should add that into my recipe… though I guess it’s self-explanatory, huh? Hope that you like the recipe if you do try it x

    • Ah, that’s hugely exciting! I wish that I actually had a backyard… I’d definitely be growing pumpkins by the dozens! Hope that you enjoy the recipe when your pumpkins are ready. Aaron loved them, despite feeling that my version of the maple butter was ‘verging on savoury’. Definitely add an extra tsp or two of maple syrup if you and Alyssa want a sweet fix :)

  9. So tragic when someone must endure the sudden death of a partner, family member, or close friend. I am positive that you were given that squash because she knew that you would treat it with respect and, in so doing, honor her dear husband. Very touching, Laura.
    These scones sound very tasty, especially when served with your maple pecan butter. Now, I don’t bake much and cannot say whether I’ll ever make these or any scones. I can say, though, that I will be making this nutty butter. No doubt about it. :)

    • Thanks so much John, I appreciate the kind words very much. It’s strange how food can conjure up so much emotion… I guess it’s something that connects us and nourishes us. A very intimate thing. Hope that you like the nut butter my friend :)

  10. Hi Laura – what a sad but touching story – it reminded me of my Pop’s prolific garden that was always full of carrots, spinach, runner beans and salad onions – when he died, so did the garden :( Im sure John would’ve loved your scones with a nice cup of tea :)

    • Aw, thank you Gillian. Sorry to hear about your pop’s garden. I’m afraid that the same thing might happen to John’s garden as his wife isn’t capable of tending to it. I guess that’s life, though. Things grow and then they die. I appreciate your kind words, I was just looking at your business card yesterday so it’s timely to get a message from you! Hope that things are going well x

  11. What a beautiful way to honor not only this lovely pumpkin, but John as well. I’m sure he was looking down on you with a big smile. I think you did a wonderful job here- the flavors, textures, everything! Just yesterday, I went out and bought a new bag of spelt flour (wanna come over?), millet and sweet rice flour. I’m going to get my bake on too ;) xx

    • Thanks so much Em. I really did put a lot of thought into wanting to use the pumpkin ‘correctly’, strange but true. It’s funny how food can have such strong associations. Oh yes, I would LOVE to come and bake with you! Ah, if only… we need a rich friend to fly us over on a whim! x

  12. I love making bread with pumpkins, butternut squash, and sweet potatoes. Your scones look wonderful! And I can tell that now that you’re moving into fall, you’re going to be getting me in the mood for fall food :-)

    • Yes, it’s really getting into fall weather over here! I’m looking out at a rainy, cool garden scene as I type! Hope that you’re enjoying your Spring weather and the fresh new season vegetables Susan! I do love Spring. We’ll be envious of each other! x

  13. I made this beautiful combined recipe yesterday , using home-made pumpkin puree, that I stashed in my freezer, defrosted it & made these beauties! That maple pecan butter was divine with them! It all oozed deliciousness! xxx

  14. I am so sorry to read about John and his wife left behind. This is such a lovely tribute and way for you to remember him and pay respect to what he created with his hands in his last few months.

  15. I’m sorry to hear about your friend’s husband. You made something beautiful from what he cultivated. I remember when I was young buying pumpkin scones from the bakery, but I don’t see them anymore. I have tried making them myself but they didn’t look as good as yours. I will have to try your recipe using wholemeal flour and roasted pumpkin.

    • These scones worked out really well, surprisingly (as I am not a regular scone maker!!). I might try them with coconut butter next time… I have seen a couple of vegan recipes that substituted for dairy butter quite successfully. Thanks so much for the lovely note xx

  16. Pingback: Picnics and Caramelised Onion Foccacia « Laura's Mess

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