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Pumpkin Tea Biscuits

Today I did some baking for my book group, which has been reading “Seabiscuit” by Laura Hillenbrand. I can see why the book has received so many accolades; it’s wonderful… and it goes beyond the story of a horse, it’s the context of the 1930s and the lives of all the characters involved that make it such an interesting read. I can’t really add anything new to what’s already been said about the book but will just say that if you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it.

If you’re familiar with the story of Seabiscuit you may recall that his stable mate was a palomino horse named Pumpkin. What could be more fitting to bake, then, than Pumpkin Tea Biscuits! I made them for my book group, even though none of the other members will actually be able to taste them… we have an online group with “virtual meetings.” It’s the thought that counts, right?

I ended up combining a couple of different scone and biscuit recipes to come up with my Pumpkin Tea Biscuits, and they turned out beautifully. The glaze is optional, but makes these a lovely sweet treat with a cup of tea.

Pumpkin Tea Biscuits

Preheat oven to 425 F (if you have a convection oven, set it to 400)

Toast 1/3 cup chopped pecans in a dry pan, and set aside. (This is my favourite part… I love the smell and flavour of toasted pecans and use them whenever I can!)

Mix together in a large bowl:

2 cups flour
4 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground ginger

Cut in 1/2 cup butter, and set aside. (I used to do this with two knives but I finally have a food processor, which does the job a hundred times better, in a matter of seconds)

In a separate bowl, whisk together:

2/3 cup canned pumpkin
1/3 cup half-and-half or light cream
1 large egg
2 tbsp. honey

I used some amazing Tasmanian Leatherwood Honey that our Australian friends brought us. It’s got a unique flavour, and I love the label, too.

Combine the wet and dry ingredients, and add the pecans.

Form the dough into a ball, but don’t over-mix it. Put it on a lightly floured surface and knead it just a few times. It’s important not to over-work biscuit dough.

Cut triangles with a knife, or cut out circles with a round cutter or a glass. If you use a cutter, do as my mum always said and push it straight in and lift it out, don’t twist it. This helps the biscuits come out flaky.

Place on a greased baking sheet and bake for 12 – 14 minutes or until the biscuits start to turn light brown. Cool on a wire rack.

For the glaze, mix together:

1 cup icing sugar
2 tbsp. milk
I added about 1/4 tsp. of Penzey’s Apple Pie Spice. You could also use some nutmeg and cinnamon.

Drizzle the glaze over the biscuits, and enjoy!

Yummy!

Software tester by day, in her off hours Jo-Anne is a creative baking ninja! (talk about multi-talented: she also has a black belt in kickboxing and Shotokan karate and a brown belt in Yoshukai karate) She recently opened her own catering business, Yummy Yume (yummy – English for delicious, and yume, pronounced “you may” – Japanese for dream).

Jo-Anne is one of my co-workers, and when she experiments with new recipes or techniques, like the two-tone waves of blue and silver frosting on the cupcake shown below, she sometimes brings them to the office for us to sample.

How would you describe what you do?
I take seemingly boring ingredients, add some creative magic and transform them into dreamy confections.

How long have you been interested in baking and cooking?
Since I was 7 and I realized that you didn’t have to follow the exact package directions on KD and Mr. Noodles.

Toasted marshmallow on Belgian chocolate with malt icing

Was there anything in particular that got you interested in the first place?
Wok with Yan Can – I used to watch that show all the time.

What has been the most challenging part of starting your own catering business?
Finding enough counter space – I am limited by my own kitchen right now, so I will have to do renos or find another kitchen.

These lemon cupcakes topped with guitar cookies were a hit at Mike's birthday party last year!

What is your favourite utensil or tool to work with?
I just got a bamix for Christmas – this is awesome! I can make homogenized sauces and velvety soups in seconds. I also love my double sided silicon spatula – it’s great on my non-stick pans.

What are your favourite flavours?
I love the spicy, earthy medicinal flavours of cinnamon and cardamom. Something about those flavours is very comforting. I also love the tangy taste and smells of citrus.

Peanut butter bacon cupcake with maple buttercream

What inspires you?
I am inspired by the foods and flavours of other cultures. When I travel, I only eat food from that culture.

What’s one of your creations that you are particularly proud of?
That’s a tough one. I’d say it’s a toss up between the Black Swan cupcake (a cupcake complete with a pair of black swan’s wings) and the Thomas the Train goes to Candy Land cake (a cake I made for my nephew with limited equipment).

Cupcake inspired by the film "Black Swan" for an Oscars-viewing party last year

What is something you haven’t tried yet, but would like to?
I would really like to try making French macaroons and different flavoured cream puffs.

When are you going to bring more cupcakes to the office?
You know you are my QA department!

All non-watermarked mouth-watering photos courtesy of Jo-Anne Redublo

Apricot Cinnamon Scones

Good Friday morning, the wind whistling outside, some black tea with vanilla, and Apricot Cinnamon Scones warm from the oven.  No “real” baking here… it’s a mix from Hazelwood Herb Farm.  For a just-add-water kind of thing, they were actually quite tasty. Who says you have to bake from scratch all the time?