A couple weeks ago I was at a farmers’ market and I couldn’t help but stock up on winter squash. (Don’t blame me though…who could turn down a beautiful sugar pumpkin for $1?!) I also got a gorgeous, nearly four-pound butternut squash for under $2. And maybe the best part (even though it isn’t squash), was a huge (and I do mean huge…it was also almost four pounds!) rutabaga that I picked up for $1!
When you buy more than you can use, you’re basically at the point where a bargain is no longer a bargain. Luckily, this was not the case since all the things I bought are easy to process and preserve for later. (Even the rutabaga! I peeled it up, cubed it, flash froze it, and then packed it in freezer-safe containers for later use. But that’s a chat for later, right now we’re talking about that gorgeous butternut.)
Speaking of butternut, if you like pumpkin butter, oh boy do I have a treat for you today.
Pureed butternut squash tastes very similar to pumpkin puree, but I find butternut to be ever-so-slightly richer, sweeter, and nuttier tasting. I find that butternut also has a creamier texture and is a bit less stringy. Because of this, it stands to reason that butternut would make a superior butter. (Something very interesting, did you know that some manufacturers of canned pumpkin actually include a mixture of winter squashes along with pumpkin – perhaps for these very reasons? For more info on it, check out Canned Pumpkin: What is it Really Made Of?on The Kitchn. Incidentally, I remember when I was a kid my mom telling me about how most canned pumpkin products aren’t really 100% canned pumpkin…she was pretty outraged about it and would go out of her way to make sure she was purchasing a product that was only 100% pumpkin. This just made me think of that, lol.)
I bumped up the maple flavor in these scones by not only using pure maple syrup as the (subtle) sweetener, but also by using a little bit of maple extract. I’ve tried two brands of maple flavor/extract; a natural flavoring from Frontier Natural Products Co-Op and an imitation extract from J.R. Watkins. In my experience, the natural flavoring is less than $2 more, so if you can find it I would go for that one; if it isn’t available, I’ve seen the imitation extract everywhere (even at Walmart!) and it is still a pretty great product.
I served both the Butternut-Maple Butter and the Spiced Maple Scones as part of my Autumnal Afternoon Tea. This is my contribution to this month’s 5 Star Makeover – our theme is squash! A huge thank-you to Laz and Natasha for hosting the event!
- 1 (3½ to 4 lb) whole butternut squash
- 1 cup maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 4 tablespoons milk (any kind you like), divided
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon maple extract
- 1 cup plus 3-6 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon baking soda
- 4 tablespoons butter, chilled and cubed
- Preheat oven to 400F; line a baking sheet that’s large enough to hold your squash with foil. If there’s any dirt on the outside of the squash, give it a rinse and pat it dry. Poke several holes in various spots around the squash. Roast the squash on the prepared pan until it’s very tender and a paring knife easily pierces the squash and slips right out. (My squash was 3 lb 10 oz and it took 90 minutes to roast.) Let the squash cool a bit and then cut it in half the long way. Scoop out the seeds, saving them to roast if you want, and scoop the flesh into a bowl. Transfer the flesh to a food processor (working in batches if it doesn’t all fit at once), and process until smooth. (You should get about 2 lbs of squash puree.)
- Add the pureed squash to a medium saucepan along with all remaining ingredients. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring almost constantly. Once simmering, turn heat down to low and cook until thickened, about 3 minutes, stirring constantly (it will thicken more upon cooling). Taste a little bit (careful, it’s hot!) and adjust the sweetness and spices according to your tastes (for the whole batch, I add ½ cup regular sugar if I’m making it for my mom who likes it very sweet; then I cook it about 1 minute more to dissolve the sugar).
- Process through canning, or store in the fridge up to 2 weeks.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, 3 tablespoons milk (reserving 1 tablespoon to brush on top before baking), vanilla, and maple extract; set aside.
- Whisk together 1 cup flour, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl. Use a fork to cut the butter into the flour until it looks like coarse meal and you have a few pieces the size of peas. Mix in the maple syrup mixture, then knead in 3 to 6 tablespoons flour (just enough flour so the dough comes together nicely).
- Divide the dough in half and shape each half into a ball and flatten each into a disk about 3½ to 4-inches in diameter; wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours (overnight is fine).
- Preheat oven to 425F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat liner. Cut each disk of dough into 4 equal pieces (so you have 8 scones total). Transfer the scones to the prepared baking sheet and lightly brush the tops with the reserved 1 tablespoon milk. Bake until light golden brown, about 10 to 12 minutes. Serve warm with Butternut-Maple Butter.
Update, 10/25/2012: Regarding the Butternut-Maple Butter, one commenter below mentioned that it isn’t safe to can pumpkin butter even with pressure canning because of the density. I am not an expert on canning so I don’t know if this is true for sure, but it is always better to be safe. Anyway, this Butternut- Maple Butter keeps well stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks (and I’ve also had success freezing it for longer periods), so that might be the better option.