I was completely nervous about making this recipe. Not because I’m afraid of pumpkin, but because it was my first baking adventure at 5,000 feet and I was pretty certain that it was going to go horribly. And guess what? IT DID.
It went very wrong. But it didn’t go wrong just because I’m at a high altitude (high altitude baking is hard by the way, but that’s a different post). It also went horribly wrong because I failed to READ THE RECIPE. So couple my failure to read with my high altitude woes and it resulted in me making these bad boys twice in one day.
But the end result (above) was delicious and worth the do-over.
1) Add flour, salt, baking powder, and pecans in a food processor and pulse a few times to get the pecans chopped. If you don’t have a food processor, just chop the pecans finely and then stir everything together in a bowl.
2) Add cubed chilled butter to flour mixture and pulse a few times or cut butter into flour with fingers or a fork until there are pebble sized bits of butter throughout the flour.
3) Mix pumpkin, buttermilk, and syrup together in a seperate bowl.
4) Add pumpkin mixture to flour and pulse a few times to combine or stir until dough comes together. The dough should be really soft, but not sticky at all.
5) Working quickly, turn dough out onto floured surface and roll until it’s 1/2 inch thick. Use cutters to cut out biscuits or slice dough to make square biscuits.
6) Place biscuits on baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake at 425 for 18-20 minutes.
So I got the idea for this recipe from a sweet potato biscuit recipe in Bon Appetit. That recipe also sounds good but the pumpkin idea is even easier because you can just use canned stuff. The original recipe called for cornmeal, which I used the first time but didn’t like. So I took it out and replaced it with flour for my successful version.
The original recipe also calls for pecans, which for some unknown reason, I just completely forgot. These are not optional. The chopped pecans make the biscuits kind of hold together. I left them out the first time and my dough was really soggy and not the right consistency.
In addition to that it took me two times to I think master the high-altitude version of this recipe which meant:
– Reducing the baking powder by 1/8 Tablespoon
– Adding an extra 2 Tablespoons (apprx) of flour
– Baking them hotter for a shorter amount of time
I didn’t do that the first time around and the biscuits just plain didn’t work.
Making the Dough
This is a really quick dough to pull together if you have a food processor. If you don’t, then you can still make it but it’ll add on a few minutes to your prep time.
Start by combining your pumpkin, buttermilk, and maple syrup in a bowl. You want to have this stuff ready because after you add it to the dry stuff you want to waste no time getting the biscuits rolled out and in the oven.
In a food processor, or big bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, chopped pecans and butter.
Pulse this a few times to cut the chilled butter into the flour. If you don’t have a food processor, this is the step that’ll take a few extra minutes because you’ll need to cut the butter into the flour using your fingers.
Once you get the butter cut into the flour, add the pumpkin/buttermilk/syrup mixture and pulse a few times or just stir it together with a spoon until the dough comes together.
This was my failed dough version which was a bit soggy. I had a feeling I was going to have some trouble when my dough was this wet.
ANYWAY, assuming your dough is the right consistency (soft, but not sticky), turn it out onto a floured surface and quickly roll it out to a medium rectangle. The dough should be about 1/2 inch thick.
Remember, the key to good biscuits is to work quickly because time works against you once you add the liquids in with the dried stuff.
Use a cutter to cut out biscuits to your size, or you can just slice them up and make square biscuits like I did with my black pepper biscuits.
Set the biscuits on a baking sheet (I recommend lining it with parchment paper). Then bake it at 425 for about 18 minutes.
Of course, my first round of biscuits resembled small orange rocks.
After some cursing and a trip to the garbage can though, I regrouped and figured out a plan for success. I’m going to write more about high altitude baking, but to adjust for the problem, I started by making sure I added pecans which I learned were not optional. I also decided to not use the cornmeal and just use all flour, which I think is a good switch even in normal altitude which is why the recipe doesn’t include cornmeal.
I decreased the amount of baking powder by about 1/8, added a few extra Tablespoons of flour, and baked them at 435 for 15 minutes.
The results of my second attempt were A LOT better.
Once I had some successful donuts, I ate them the only way to eat really good biscuits… with butter!
I can definitely tell that baking at a high altitude is going to be a challenge, but I’m pretty determined to figure it out even if it means the occasional recipe re-do. Of course, I’ll always post recipes assuming you AREN’T baking at 5,000 feet and then just share my adjustments.
That said, if people have high altitude tips, I’m all ears.
And also… pumpkin biscuits are delicious.