It’s Labor Day, the last day of summer, and I’m feeling in a mood to reflect a bit on work, summer, and working during the summer.
I didn’t plan well for work and child care this summer.
Last summer I created an elaborate scheule — involving tables in Microsoft Word and spreadsheets in Excel — to track the profit/loss for each week of summer. My spreadsheets and tables let me answer questions such as: “If the girls spend 2 days a week in Queens Botanical Garden summer camp, 3 days a week at Garden School summer camp (mornings only), and then I pick them up and finish a little work once they’re in bed, then can I work enough hours at least to break even at the end of the month?” (The answer to this particular question is YES, but only if you fail to encounter traffic, parking difficulties, or a heat wave so intense it makes one particular 4-year-old claim she will neither get dressed nor leave her bedroom in the morning.)
But this summer. . . I procrastinated about plans. There was a quasi-boycott of Garden School’s summer program that may or may not have actually been happening still when I told a nice lady on the phone that we would most definitely not be sending our children back there this year; my girls resisted the idea of returning to the awesomness (my opinion) that is the Queens Botanical Garden summer camp; and ultimately I just decided that for the days I have to work they can just relax at home, at the park, or at any of the 1,000 cultural institutions all over our city with the babysitter who normally picks them up from school when I am working.
Here is what I forgot: My children hate to leave the house if it’s not a school day. So their days have involved sitting with their kind, calm babysitter painting their nails, drawing pictures of birds and flowers, and having big long lunches of dal, rice, yogurt, and parathas with jam. It’s the life. But what about me? I have been cast adrift, looking for coffee shops where I can sit and work! Which led me to Espresso 77, here in Jackson Heights, and their pumpkin scones.
The season is ALL wrong for pumpkin anything, but I got one of their scones one day with a glass of New Orleans iced coffee (I can’t explain this further right now, but I am very excited that I may actually know how to make this at home thanks to this post!), and then I had one every day for like a week. And then after that I was missing those scones, so I became sort of obsessed with re-creating them.
For a while, about two years ago, we were making these scones from the Skinny Gourmet all the time. This pumpkin scone recipe is based on that old recipe, slightly, except it has pumpkin, maple syrup, sour cream. . . . actually it’s pretty heavily adapted.
I used sour cream instead of buttermilk, so that I could add pumpkin and maple syrup, without the whole things getting too soft and liquid-y.
Let me just say that, while baked goods smelling of pumpkin and cinnamon are not a typical late-summer treat, if your mom happens to give you a counter-top convection oven, you will find that summer baking takes on a whole new meaning. I can make this dough in the time it takes to pre-heat the oven, and then the scones are done 20 minutes later.
Next, i just want to figure out how to do these ahead of time, so that they can go in said convection oven while i’m still half-asleep, without the hands-coated-in-butter step. That would really make the transition from summer to school year a little easier….
Pumpkin Maple Scones
1 cup whole wheat flour
3 Tbs butter (cold or frozen)
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup canned pumpkin
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup sour cream
1/4 cup flax meal (maybe a little less)
Preheat the oven to 400, and place a piece of parchment paper on a baking pan.
Mix the flour, soda, and cinnamon in a bowl. Cut the butter into the flour, then press the butter into the flour to create a mealy consistency.
In a separate bowl, mix together the pumpkin, syrup, and sour cream. Add those to the flour mixture to create a loose dough (but not too loose!) Add a little flour if you need to.
Finally mix in the flax meal. Don’t add all the flax meal if it’s going to mess up the consistency. Just add enough to thicken the dough a little more.
Turn the dough onto a floured board and pat it into a circle.
Cut the circle into wedges — I like 8 wedges, but maybe you like bigger scones?
Put the scones on the parchment paper. Brush the tops with a little sour cream, and sprinkle with some raw or brown sugar, if you have it.
Bake for around 20 minutes. The scones will be a bit thin, so don’t overbake them or they’ll just be hard. (See how nice the sugar looks on top?)
These taste best, of course, right away. And though butter is almost un-necessary. . . it’s kind of nice. And the next day, toasted and buttered, these scones are almost as good as freshly-baked. (This picture is for my mom, because I think she’d agree this is the only way to eat this treat. In fact, another melty lump of butter on the top half might be just right…..)