A few weeks ago when I was in Turkey I took a break from work to make a small side trip to Cappadocia. For those of you not familiar with this region it is a series of small towns known for its spectacular rock formation and cave dwellings.
We stopped for a brief wine tasting and went on to visit the Goreme cave city museum and then climbed the highest town, Uchisar.
Along the way I found a street vendor selling a gorgeous variety of delicious nuts and dried fruits and was most intrigued by the apricot kernels. In that area of the world, they look and taste almost like almonds.
A big bag of them was tossed into my backpack as well as these interesting grape jellies which I will save for another post.
The nuts were so delicious I had to restrain myself from eating the whole bag before I got back to the States. Upon returning I saw this month's 12 Loaves theme of nuts, seeds or grains and knew it was the perfect way to showcase them.
Twelve Loaves Challenge was created by four fabulous food bloggers: Lora of Cake Duchess, my macaron mentor Jamie from Life's a Feast, Lisa from Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives and Barbara of Creative Culinary. You can find the rules here or click the badge above. There is still time to bake along. The deadline is October 31st. Just link your post to the linky tool at the bottom of Lora, Lisa or Jamie’s blog.
For this challenge, I was in the mood for scones and set about building a flavor combination around the apricot kernels.
Last week I came upon this gorgeous perfect pie pumpkin at a corner deli here in the East Village and even though I was hesitant to use it because it looked so cute on my counter, I eventually caved, carved it up and into the oven it went. After roasting, it was pureed.
After 10 years of living in Germany, where spelt is immensely popular, I am a bit spelt obsessed and always have spelt flour on hand even if it costs over three times as much here in the States. So pumpkin, spelt and those wonderful apricot kernels were all coming together for a scone. All I needed was something to add a bit of sweetness. Something a bit exotic. The dried cranberries in my cabinet seemed too pedestrian to marry with sexy seeds dragged back on a 10 hour flight. When I saw dates in the market I had an Ah Ha! baking moment, pounced on them and scurried home to add them to the flavor pile.
So Pumpkin Date Apricot Seed Spelt Scones (say that 5x fast) it was. I used a large deep leaf cutter to make a pretty fall statement.
The taste was perfect. Every bite reminded me of those gorgeous vistas and how much I love visiting Turkey. The soft sugary dates contrasted well with the slightly salty almondy crunch of apricot seeds wrapped in the soft warm pillowy pumpkin flavored scone.
Pumpkin Date Apricot Seed Spelt Scones
(Adapted from Pumpkin Scones at Joy of Baking)
- 2 + 1/2 cups spelt flour
- 1/3 cup light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter cut into pieces
- 1/2 cup chopped dates
- 1/2 cup whole apricot kernels (you can substitute almonds)
- 1/3 cup low fat buttermilk
- 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon milk
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Whisk dry ingredients together.
- Work butter pieces into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter or your fingers until the mixture achieves a coarse crumb texture.
- Add the dates and apricot kernels.
- In a separate bowl mix together the buttermilk, pumpkin and vanilla bean paste.
- Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture until the dough comes together.
- Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead gently a few times.
- Pat out into a circle and use a cutter to cut out shapes and place on baking sheet.
- Whisk together the egg and milk and brush over the tops of the scones.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.
- Remove and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.