I know I've said this before, but I'm going to say it again, I'm not much of a breakfast lover. Not that I have anything against "breakfast food". To the contrary, in fact, I can very happily eat breakfast food for dinner. It's actually eating breakfast first thing in the morning that I struggle with - my body generally feels a bit happier if it's been up and moving about for a few hours before shovelling in a bit of fodder. Still, much as I would generally prefer to skip breakfast, conventional wisdom seems to be that one shouldn't begin the working day on an empty stomach. That being the case, I will often start my weekday morning with a smoothie, or this Tropical Fruit Granola, or even this Banana, Lemon & Passionfruit Guilt-Free Ice Cream (which is really just a frozen smoothie).
Despite my breakfast reticence, however, I do love brunch. Taken a little later in the morning, and consumed at a more leisurely pace, this to me is how every day should begin. I love, of course, a good feed of bacon and eggs, almost any kind of omelette, and what would brunch be without a classic eggs benedict? But, to my way of thinking, every good brunch should also include a little sweetness - maybe something like these Peach & Blueberry Pancakes or this Orange Mango French Toast with Honey Roasted Strawberry Compote.
Such thoughts were uppermost in my mind when it came to choosing a dish for our "Let's Do Brunch" theme at I Heart Cooking Clubs this week. Leafing through my now much thumbed copy of Nigel Slater's Tender Vol. I, his recipe for a warm pumpkin scone captured my attention. Nigel's suggestion of serving these with grilled bacon and sharp cheddar cheese would make a great brunch indeed, but as I mentioned I was looking for a little sweetness. I left out the fresh thyme called for in the original recipe, and my initial thought was to add some prunes to the scones, but I had some fresh dates on hand to be used up, and I figured that some dark chocolate I had lurking in the pantry wouldn't go astray either.
These were quick and simple to make, with a soft, moist centre. The combination of pumpkin, dates and chocolate strikes just the right balance between sweet and savoury notes, and served with a little drizzle of date syrup (entirely optional, but a nice touch if you have it) or maple syrup, these were the perfect addition to Sunday brunch. They'd also be great with an afternoon cup of tea or coffee.
Pumpkin, Date & Chocolate Scones Recipe
Adapted from recipe by Nigel Slater
from Tender, Vol. I
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe
300g (11 oz) pumpkin, peeled & seeded (I used butternut)
140g (5 oz) plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
70g (2-1/2 oz) butter
1x free-range egg, lightly beaten
90ml (3 fl oz) warm milk
handful of fresh or dried dates, roughly chopped
85g (3 oz) dark chocolate (I used Whittaker's Dark Ghana), roughly chopped
a little oil or butter
date syrup or maple syrup to serve (optional)
Preheat oven to 200 degrees C (390 degrees F).
Cut pumpkin into large chunks, and steam until tender.
Meanwhile, mix flour, baking soda and salt together in a medium-sized bowl. Cut butter into small cubes, and with your fingertips rub butter into the flour until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
Mash pumpkin and stir in the warm milk and egg. Mix in the dates and chocolate, then add everything to the flour mixture, and mix until just combined. (Don't be alarmed - the dough is not firm enough to handle like a conventional scone dough - mine was almost more like a thick batter.)
Heat an ovenproof, non-stick fry pan over medium heat. Melt a little knob of butter in the warmed pan, and add the dough to the pan. Spread it out and smooth the top. Turn heat down to low and cook until the underside is firm and browned - about 5 minutes.
Lightly oil a dinner plate. Remove pan from the heat and loosen dough from the pan with a palette knife. Place plate over the top of the pan, then flip everything over so that the scone drops out onto the plate.
Now slide the scone back into the pan, cooked side up. and put the pan into the oven until the other side is cooked and the middle is set - about 5 to 8 minutes.
Turn the scone out onto a wooden board, cut into wedges and serve while still warm. Drizzle with date or maple syrup if desired.
If you would like to get to know Nigel Slater a little better, and to see what everyone else has cooked up this week, then do go and visit my friends at I Heart Cooking Clubs and check out the links ...
... or check out Tender, Vol. 1 and Nigel's many other great titles available from Amazon USA, Amazon UK, or Fishpond NZ.
I will also be submitting this post to Sweet New Zealand. Inspired by Alessandra Zecchini, and hosted this month by Amanda at Move, Love, Eat, Sweet New Zealand is an event for all Kiwi bloggers (whether living at home or abroad), or all foreign bloggers living in New Zealand, to link up their sweet treats.
I'll also be sharing this post this week at See Ya In the Gumbo hosted by the delightful Michelle at Ms. enPlace, at Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth Fish Reads, at Foodie Fridays hosted by Designs by Gollum, and at Cook Your Books hosted by the lovely Joyce at Kitchen Flavours, and at Hearth & Soul hosted by the gorgeous April at 21st Century Housewife.