Our little city is overflowing with all manner of squash right now — edible, decorative and colorful. I may cook with only a few types, but I love seeing cheery cucurbita whether it’s at the Santa Barbara Farmers Market or other stops in town.
This lavish bounty might explain why I became preoccupied with the idea of baking pumpkin biscuits. I envisioned a sweet, buttery, flaky-layered beauty with a hint of warm spice. I was inspired by this recipe for Kabocha Squash Biscuits from Angela Rosoff (scroll down the page to see her photo and recipe), and as I researched further, came across this Honey Pumpkin Biscuit recipe from Beth Kirby of Local Milk on Food52.
With a can of pumpkin on the shelf, I postponed the squash-roasting needed for Rosoff’s recipe (which I will come back to soon) and got to work on Kirby’s recipe. I tinkered a fair amount to achieve my goal, though.
Most of my changes were focused on the dry ingredients: To impart a wholesome, slightly nutty flavor, I whisked a small amount of whole wheat pastry flour into the bowl of all-purpose flour. I also substituted fine sea salt for the flaky variety, which I find overpowering in sweet treats.
Going for a more subtle warmth than heady spice, I significantly cut the amounts of cinnamon and ginger and rounded out the spice mix by adding a couple of pinches of allspice. My final change: pouring maple syrup into the batter instead of honey. I wanted caramel undertones that Grade B Maple Syrup delivers in spades.
This is a wet dough, not surprising due to the amount of liquid. I followed Kirby’s advice to hold 1/4 of the liquid back when mixing. I highly recommend this. You can always add more liquid if your dough is a little dry, but if you must start adding flour to your dough to make it useable, it will toughen up in no time.
I used a smaller biscuit cutter than Kirby’s recipe called for — I like petite biscuits. My yield was 14 rather than 10 biscuits. These biscuits are surprisingly tender, and we loved the hit of maple and the delicate hint of spice. These biscuits stand alone, but are even better with a smear of butter and jam, too.
Maple Pumpkin Biscuits pair nicely with this Chili-Maple Glazed Salmon from Fountain Avenue Kitchen and one of our favorite fall salads with apples and persimmon. They’d make a festive addition to a holiday buffet or brunch, too.
My take on Beth Kirby’s recipe is below. Here again is a link to her recipe on Food52.
- 200 grams all-purpose flour (I weighed both flours and didn’t use a cup measure) plus a few Tablespoons of flour for folding and shaping
- 50 grams whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 Tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- pinch of ground allspice
- 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter (I used high-fat European butter), cut into ¼-inch cubes
- ⅓ cup pumpkin puree; be sure to drain it well
- 6 heaping Tablespoons maple syrup (Grade B if you can find it; the flavor is more pronounced)
- ¾ cup buttermilk
- Turn the oven on to 425 degrees and adjust the rack so that it is in the center of the oven. Put parchment or a silpat on a baking sheet.
- Whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut the butter into the flour mixture. You want the butter chunks to be pea-sized, so you won’t mix the ingredients for long.
- In a large measuring cup (I use a 2-cup measure), whisk the pumpkin puree, maple syrup and buttermilk together. Pour all but ¼ cup of the liquid into the flour mixture and using a rubber spatula stir the mixture together until just mixed. If you dough is dry, add liquid about a tablespoon at a time.
- Turn out the mixture onto a well floured-counter and sprinkle about a tablespoon of flour on top of the dough and on your hands. Using your hands, flatten the mixture into a rectangle (handling lightly) that is about 1-inch thick, and then fold in half. Repeat this flattening and folding process two more times (you’re creating the layers), using a teaspoon or two of flour at a time if necessary. The dough will be soft but not sticky.
- Rub flour over a 2-inch or 2.5-inch biscuit cutter. Cut the biscuits — use a straight-down motion and don’t twist the cutter. Handle the biscuits carefully when you place them on your baking sheet (line the biscuits up in rows, but have them touching each other). I re-shaped the remaining biscuit dough twice more using all of the dough. Be sure to keep your biscuit-cutter well-floured so that you can remove the biscuits from the cutter without tearing them.
- Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 10-13 minutes. I took mine out at 13 minutes — they were lightly browned on top and the edges were slightly darker.
- Once out of the oven, carefully slide the parchment with the biscuits onto a cooling rack. My crew grabbed a few to try after 10 minutes and smeared butter over every surface they could. I served them slightly warm with dinner. They’re lovely without the butter, too.