Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pumpkin Scone Smackdown

Scones originated in Scotland and can be dated through literature to the 1500s. They were cooked on a griddle over an open flame, and it was not until the mid-19th century that scones were leavened with baking powder or soda.

Pumpkin scones were put on Australia’s culinary map by Florence Bjelke-Petersen, a Queensland senator during the late 80s and early 90s and wife of a former Queensland premier. During her time as a senator she became well known for her pumpkin scones, her reputation for them rivaling that of her political career. In Queensland they use an Australian blue pumpkin. This recipe creams the butter and sugar resulting in a cake-like texture. It also uses self-rising flour, which I converted for you - add 1 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt to each cup of regular flour. There are several version; I used this one. http://allrecipes.com//Recipe/queensland-pumpkin-scones/Detail.aspx

Challenging this traditional scone is Starbucks's version of the pumpkin scone. Clearly an effort to appeal to American tastebuds, it has plenty of pumpkin pie-type spices and two layers of frosting. It cuts in the butter, which gives a totally different texture than creaming. This recipe is all over the internet, but I used this one.

Both recipes made about a dozen large scones. The Queensland ones could be eaten warm from the oven, but the Starbucks had to cool for the frosting. The Hub and I liked both of them fresh from the oven, but leaned toward the Starbucks. The next morning, the Hub decided the Queensland scones needed some honey-butter. After reheating them and adding the honey-butter, we changed our votes.

I took the rest of the scones to work where my new taste testing crew (west end of Discovery Creative including writers, production, prepress, Lab and occasional passerby) went to work. It was almost a tie, 8 to 7 in favor of Starbucks. Those who liked the Starbucks enjoyed the sweetness; those who liked the Queensland liked the fact that they weren't so sweet.

I later found out the results might be suspect. While lunching with two friends, one who participated and one who didn't, it came out that at least some of the crew hadn't understood that I had made both scones. They thought I had bought the Starbucks scones and was comparing them to my own homemade ones. So there may have been some dividing of the vote so as not to hurt my feelings. There are two things wrong with that thinking: I would not have sprung for a dozen scones at Starbucks at 3 something a pop, and this is serious taste testing, feelings cannot enter into it.

1 comment:

  1. As someone who regularly purchases pumpkin scones at Starbucks, they totally aren't three dollars. Teehee! Actually, we prefer the loaf- perhaps you should do a taste test against their pumpkin loaf now that everyone has figured out the voting procedures :)


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