I take my role as Canadian expat pretty seriously, and I’m not half bad at it. I’ve resisted the mid-Atlantic accent, retaining at least 90% of my Canuck twang, I can name more than ten NHL players off the top of my head, and at least half of the music on my iPod is Canadian (hey, I’m living proof that cancon works). But when it comes to Canadian Thanksgiving, I’m a dismal failure. Some of my expat friends throw elaborate dinners on this holiday, complete with roast turkey, pumpkin pie and horn-o-plenty table decorations. Me? I didn’t even taste a pumpkin pie until two years ago (oh, what I was missing) and I completely forgot about this past weekend’s celebration until Sunday afternoon.
I was in the village shop, picking up some essentials for the day when I spied a can of pumpkin purée at the bottom of the “American Imports” shelf. (My neighbourhood seems to have a lot of expats, and this shelf is always groaning with Kraft Dinner, Oreos, Crisco, Pop-Tarts and other wholesome North American products.) Of course, I’d just come from the farmer’s market where I could have bought an actual pumpkin, but for some reason that didn’t appeal to me as much as the can of Libby’s purée (America’s Favourite Pumpkin!) did.
Of course, once I got home, I was faced with the rather perplexing question of what to do with the pumpkin. A pie would have been the obvious choice, but considering that I’m not the throw-a-Thanksgiving-party-for-all-your -friends type, it seemed a rather indulgent choice for just Andrew and myself. Last year I made Pumpkin Chocolate Whoopie Pies, but I was rather fancying something savoury this time around. Since I was already planning on making some soup for our lunch (a riff on this recipe, a beloved classic in my house), decided to make some scones to go with it.
As I started hunting down a recipe as a jumping-off point, I realised that savoury ones are few and far between. Almost everyone I came across was loaded with sugar, and most had a sugar glaze as well. In fact, the entire internet seems intent on discovering the secret of Starbuck’s Pumpkin Scone recipe (to which I can only say- why?). Eventually, I decided to take one of the less-sweet recipes and simply modify it to my needs. I took out most of the sugar, though I think pumpkin always likes a little to help bring out its sweetness. I also did away with most of the different spices, subbing with a good dose of the British mixed spice (if you can’t find this, use Pumpkin pie spice or better yet, make your own). The most fundamental difference was, of course, the fillings; I threw in a good dose of crumbled feta and chopped chives.
With a lovely sweet-and-savoury flavour, these scones were the perfect accompaniment to a bowl of steaming Autumn soup. If you’re a fan of the savoury breakfast (I am), these will also be great the next day, though like all scones they’re best fresh. I admit, though- enjoying one with my tea on Thanksgiving Day morning certainly made me feel like a good Canadian.
Pumpkin, Feta and Chive Scones
adapted from Joy of Baking
makes 8 scones
- 2 cups plain flour
- 1 Tbs. dark brown sugar
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. mixed spice
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1 cup (113g) unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1cm cubes
- 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 1/4 cup chopped chives
- 1/3 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 cup pumpkin purée
- 1 egg
- 1 Tbs. milk
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk together the flour, sugar, mixed spice, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Using your fingers, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs, with some larger bits of butter remaining. Gently toss in the feta and the chives, too.
- Whisk together the buttermilk and pumpkin purée in a small bowl or jug. Pour over the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon or dough whisk, just until the mixture comes together into a dough.
- Turn out dough onto a well-floured surface and knead 5-8 times, but do not overwork. Form dough into a 1″ flat round disc, and transfer this to the baking sheet. Cut into 8 wedges and move them all slightly away from each other (3/4″ is fine).
- Whisk together the egg and milk in a small bowl and brush over the tops of the scones. Bake for 20 minutes, until risen and golden brown. Let scones cool at least ten minutes, but can be enjoyed warm or room temperature.