Desperation Scones { a.k.a. Pumpkin Scones}


We had our first big rainstorm of the season this week. In other parts of the world, that might invoke the blues, but here in Seattle, it felt like a homecoming. During the summer, it’s like we’re punch drunk in love with sunlight…and the relationship isn’t always totally healthy. From November to May, we are so starved for sunlight; once it shows up, we feel this compulsion to MAKE.THE.MOST of EVERY.SINGLE.SECOND!!

So, the return of foggy mornings, a gentle white light filtered through gray clouds, the patter of rain on the roof…it’s heaven. It’s peace and quiet and calm. It’s an invitation to incubate, and by the end of a busy summer, we’re all starved rest.

This weekend, in spite of a fresh heat wave, I thought I’d celebrate with a batch of pumpkin scones. I remembered I still had a can of pumpkin leftover from last winter that really should get put to good use.

My husband and I have a slightly unwholesome obsession with pumpkin scones. True story: On the morning of our wedding, his groomsmen asked him what he wanted for breakfast more than anything in the world. An americano and a pumpkin scone from Starbucks, was his answer.

However, since Starbucks betrayed me changed their food provider several years ago, I have had to learn how to make them myself. Last year, I found the perfect copycat recipe. The only changes I make are to reduce the cloves in the batter to 1/2 teaspoon and replace the milk with cream in the glaze. De-lish.


My plan was to get up early for my morning jog, then mix up the scone batter when I got home so the rest of the family would wake to that delicious spicy aroma emanating from the warm kitchen. As per usual, things did not go precisely according to plan.

The baby woke up a couple extra times in the night, and around 8:00, I woke to discover my phone in my hand, which must have been there from when I switched off my alarm an hour before. I registered that all the kids still sounded asleep (we had a late Friday night with friends), so all was not lost. My husband agreed to start a batch of bacon to tide them over while I went for my run, which I powered through a little faster than usual, and then I got back and showered at lightning speed.

I was upstairs mixing the dry ingredients when I called down to my husband to bring the can of pumpkin up from the pantry. (We live in a split level with limited cupboard space, so any food I don’t immediately require is stored on shelves or in the chest freezer in our laundry room.) After a couple of minutes, he called back up.

“Are you sure it’s down here?”

“Of course. It’s right behind all the cans of tomato sauce.”

“Pretty sure I checked there.”

“Look right at the very back.”

Ok…. Nope, it’s not there.”

*inwardly rolling my eyes* “I’ll come find it.”

You probably see where this is going. I searched every shelf in that pantry, and not a can of pumpkin was to be had. Well, the rest of the dough was already mixed. All I needed was the pumpkin. And I really wanted those scones. I thought of sending my husband to the store to buy the pumpkin, but that set us back even later than we already were running. Plus, I had already gone shopping the day before. On principle, I loathe grocery shopping two days in a row. I don’t know why, but I do. I nixed that idea.

I started brainstorming what I could use instead, scanning the pumpkin-less shelves for inspiration. Applesauce? No, of course we were out of applesauce. Sigh. Maybe I could mash some bananas? But then the scones would taste like banana, not pumpkin, and they wouldn’t have that lovely orange hue.

Maaaaaybe we did have some applesauce somewhere? I started scrounging, and lo and behold! I discovered: baby food. Sweet potato-apple-carrot puree thickened with chia seed. Mmmm. NotBut, technically speaking, it should work.

It was basically the same consistency as the pumpkin, similar flavor, same color. It even came perfectly portioned in a 4 oz. squeezy pouch (I needed a half cup of pumpkin). S0, I sneaked back upstairs and before my kids could see, I squeezed that pouch of baby food into the batter and mixed, mixed, mixed.


The scones did require a slightly longer cooking time (I presume because of the increased water content). But, they were delicious! And not a single person could have known they weren’t pumpkin.

Moral of the story: Cooking isn’t so much about following a recipe as it is about knowing which rules you can safely break without compromising the finished product.

Also, if Ma Ingalls can make an apple pie out of green pumpkin–then you, lovely mama, can substitute baby food for in your pumpkin scones. (Or, you know, whatever works.)

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