There’s something about autumn. I don’t know if it’s getting to kick through a mound of leaves like a (not so) little kid, the idea of Hallowe’en and ghost stories, or the sheer number of foods and flavours available to eat.
Pumpkins and squashes of every shape, size and colour are stacked outside shops, the crisp air meaning that cinnamon and nutmeg are all the rage, and the oven being on in the evening fills the flat with warmth and glorious smells. In short, I’m living – at least in my head – in an autumnal utopia.
If you’ve been to the blog during autumn and winter before you may be aware that I have a bit of a thing for cinnamon. If you didn’t know this, just imagine the sort of person who needs to attend Cinnamons Anonymous and you’re pretty much there. It just so happens though that there’s an outlet for pretty much all this spice action in autumn and it is called ‘pumpkin spiced’.
Yes, you’re thinking of lattes and high street coffee chains that have curious tax practices, but when I looked into it more it turns out that our friends across the pond are all over ‘pumpkin spiced’ baking at this time of year. So I wanted in on this action. You?
This is where the idea for pumpkin spiced shortbread came from. Since it’s a biscuit, no vegetables were harmed in the baking as it would make them too wet; spices on the other hand have been used and used some more.
If you’re looking for a seasonal treat to indulge in or take to work, give these a try – they went down a treat for me.
Pumpkin spiced shortbread
This recipe takes its inspiration from a my cinnamon and amaretti shortbread, but with the added autumnal treat of spices. To keep it crisp, there is no actual pumpkin in this recipe. It makes about 24 biscuits.
55g caster sugar
110g plain flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp mace
1/2 tsp allspice
1 small pinch of salt
Start by making the ‘pumpkin spiced’ mix. Simply get the spices – cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice and mace – and mix them together in a small bowl.
In a larger bowl beat together the butter and the sugar (it’ll be easier if the butter’s soft) until the mixture is smooth. To this bowl add a small pinch of salt, the flours and the spice mix. Work the mixture through your fingers until it is a breadcrumb-like mixture.
Bring the dough together (use a little drop of milk if it is too loose) using your hands until it forms a ball. Tip this out on to a lightly floured work surface and make it into a sausage shape. Wrap tightly in clingfilm and put in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180ºC and either get out a couple of baking sheets and line them with baking paper (shiny side up, if it has one).
Take your dough sausage from the fridge and slice with a sharp knife in to about 24 pieces (you are aiming for a thickness of about 5mm). Lay your discs on the sheet with a little space between them to expand – at least a couple of fingers between each.
Bake for about 20 minutes until golden-brown, remove from the oven and immediately scatter with golden caster sugar (which you can spike with more ground cinnamon, if you like). Allow to cool on the tray for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.