Autumn is here in the U.S., which means a deluge of questionable pumpkin spice items, along with some dubious opinions on their merits. I am here to tell you that the best pumpkin spice item is not a Starbucks latte, it’s not the bread, and it’s certainly not the fucking travesty that is the pumpkin-spice flavored Cup of Noodles, or the Bud Light seltzer. No, the best pumpkin spice item of them all is the humble scone — a lightly sweetened pastry with a thin glaze of icing on top.
Unlike a PSL, which is just a sugar-filled attempt to cover up the taste of coffee beans burnt to the point they look and taste like charcoal, the pumpkin scone — which is right there in the case, staring at you — offers just the right level of sweetness. Although on its own merits, you might consider a scone to be too dry to consume, remember that it’s not meant to be eaten alone. No, you pair that scone with a good cup of hot coffee — preferably a light roast with a healthy amount of cream, if we want to get specific. The icing offers a touch of sweet, while the blend of coffee and a light pumpkin flavour hits all the right notes.
If you can’t find a pumpkin scone, make your own
For some strange, unfathomable reason, the pumpkin scone is only available in some Starbucks locations, which can make getting one a tough challenge. Happily, that’s a situation that can be easily fixed, as it’s quite easy to make your own.
Homemade pumpkin scone taste even better than what you can buy, anyway, although it does require a little more work (not to mention a higher level of self-control, in order to avoid eating the entire batch). There is also the added benefit of being able to adjust the level of spices and the amount of icing, in case you want an extra kick and/or a different level of sweet.
There are a number of recipes for pumpkin scones out there, most of which have a similar set of ingredients/instructions. A good representative recipe is this one, from Damn Delicious, which helpfully provides photos of each step. The one change I suggest making for this particular recipe is adding in a little pumpkin puree to the spiced glaze, both for colour and taste.
Making pumpkin scones is fairly easy
First, assemble a dry mixture of flour, spices, salt, baking powder, and baking soda, then cut in some cold butter. Add in the liquid ingredients (pumpkin puree, egg, vanilla extract, and some milk or cream), and stir to form a stiff dough.
Experience tells me that while you’re stirring the dough together, there will come a moment when you wonder if you need to add in a little more liquid — ignore that instinct. Making a stiff dough means adding in just barely enough liquid for the ingredients to come together.
Next, lightly knead the dough on a floured surface, rolling it out into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. Cut the dough into triangles, place them on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper, and bake for about 10-12 minutes at 200C. The scones will rise, so be sure to space them out.
Once they are fully baked, give them a few minutes to cool off, then dip them into a white glaze made of confectioner’s sugar and cream or milk, fully covering the tops of the scones. Once the glaze has set, drizzle the spiced glaze (made of confectioner’s sugar, cream or milk and spices), over the top. If you don’t have icing bags and tips, pour the spiced glaze into a plastic ziplock bag, and cut a tiny hole in the corner.