They ate ANZAC biscuits in Adelaide, mornay and Minties in Melbourne, steak and salad in Sydney and pumpkin scones in Brisbane.
Possum Magic, Mem Fox
If you've not yet read about my lamingtons, take a look at that post before this - especially if Possum Magic is new to you. For the rest of you already introduced to my favourite picture book, welcome back to Hush and Grandma Poss' gastronomic journey around Australia. While it's the lamingtons I've already baked that finally make Hush visible again, the pumpkin scones they eat in my home city, Brisbane, are a key part of their journey.
I've been eating pumpkin scones for as long as I can remember. My fraternal grandmother made the most fantastic ones, served warm with strawberry jam and cream. My stepmother and dad have continued this tradition, and have whipped up many a Saturday afternoon batch. Mem Fox has said that she chose pumpkin scones for Brisbane because of their link to Flo Bjelke-Petersen, a Queensland politician and writer. I wasn't aware of this link until recently but - strangely - it's Flo that I've always associated with pumpkin scones too. For most of my life, my mum has had a framed recipe for pumpkin scones hanging on our wall. It's a handwritten one, given to my mum by Flo herself.
All the recipes ask for a Queensland Blue pumpkin - a little tricky to get in London. Use whatever you can get where you are, but you may need more or less flour than the recipe states, depending on the moisture content in the pumpkin. Go by feel here - I've tried to be as clear as possible below. In terms of toppings, some friends and I enjoyed the batch above with clotted cream and homemade plum jam - and I'd certainly recommend something similar. I also had some leftovers split and stuffed with grated cheddar cheese and some fresh thyme. A good salted butter wouldn't be unwelcome either - and no one could complain if you added a little smear of Vegemite too.
A piece of a pumpkin - around half a kilogram
75g sugar (Flo says 100g but, controversially, I'm going to disagree - a smaller amount is ideal and means the scones work better with both sweet and savoury toppings)
350g spelt flour
4tsp baking powder
Electric hand whisk
8cm biscuit cutter
1. Peel and chop the pumpkin into roughly even sized pieces. Put the pieces in the saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Cook for around ten minutes, or until a skewer can be easily poked through a piece of pumpkin.
2. Drain the pumpkin and allow it to cool. Mash it with the potato masher, then place it into the sieve and squash it around, to drain any excess water. Don't squash it too much - you don't want it bone dry.
3. Preheat the oven to 220C. Beat the butter and sugar together in the mixing bowl until combined. Add the salt and beat in the egg. Fold in 280g of the cooked pumpkin and then sieve the flour and baking powder into the mixture, and fold it through gently. It's really important not to overmix, so as soon as the flour has been incorporated, stop. If the mixture is still sticky, add a little more flour (bit by bit). Stop as soon as you can comfortably pat the mixture without it sticking to your floured hand.
4. Tip the mixture onto a floured bench and push into a 2cm high mound as delicately as possible - you don't want to work the dough any more than you have to. Flour the biscuit cutter and press down into the dough, without twisting or turning the cutter. If the scone comes out, place it on the baking tray. If not, leave it until you've cut out all the scones then peel the extra dough away, before transferring the scones to the tray. Reshape any leftover dough and cut it out as before.
5. Brush the top of the scones with milk (don't brush down the sides or they won't rise) and transfer to the oven for 15 minutes. Serve hot.