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Aløft

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Brae

Prepare to enter a picture of the countryside framed by note-perfect Australiana but painted in bold, elegant and unsentimental strokes. Over 10 or more courses, Dan Hunter celebrates his region with dishes that are formally daring (Crunchy prawn heads! Creamy oyster soft-serve! Sea urchin and chicory bread pudding!), yet rich in flavour and substance. The menu could benefit from an edit, but the plates are tightly composed - and what could you cut? Certainly not the limpid broth bathing fronds of abalone and calamari, nor the clever arrangement of lobster played off against charred waxy fingerlings under a swatch of milk skin. The adventure is significantly the richer for the cool gloss of the dining room, some of the most engaging service in the nation and wine pairings that roam with an easy-going confidence. Maturing and relaxing without surrendering a drop of its ambition, Brae is more compelling than ever.

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Pumpkin scones


You'll need

250 gm peeled jarrahdale or Queensland blue pumpkin, cut into 3cm pieces 300 gm (2 cups) self-raising flour ½ tsp ground nutmeg 75 gm (1/3 cup) pure icing sugar, sifted 40 gm butter, softened 1 egg yolk For brushing: milk To serve: butter

Method

  • 01
  • Preheat oven to 200C. Place pumpkin in a steamer over a saucepan of boiling water, cover and steam until tender (about 15 minutes), then transfer to an oven tray and bake for 10 minutes to dry out. Cool, then pass through a coarse sieve.
  • 02
  • Sift flour, nutmeg and 1 tsp salt into a bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat icing sugar and butter until pale and fluffy, add egg yolk and beat to combine. Using a wooden spoon, stir in pumpkin, then half the flour mixture. Add remaining flour mixture and, using your hands, bring together to make a dough, then turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently until smooth (dough should be a little sticky).
  • 03
  • Roll out to 2cm thick and, using a 5.5cm-diameter cutter dipped in flour, cut rounds (without twisting cutter) from dough and transfer to a lightly greased oven tray. Re-roll scraps and repeat. Brush tops with milk and bake until golden and sound hollow when tapped (10-15 minutes). Serve hot or at room temperature with butter.
Note Different types of pumpkins have varying moisture levels. Keep this in mind when bringing the dough together, as you may need to add a little more flour for ease of handling.

The scone originates from Scotland with the earliest reference to the bread in a Scottish poem, Aeneid, in 1513. They were originally cooked on a girdle – a type of griddle – over an open flame and in a large flat square or round, then cut into pieces. It was not until the mid-19th century that scones were leavened with baking powder or bicarbonate of soda. It’s unclear when the oven replaced the girdle as the method of cooking or when the individual round numbers came into vogue.

Plain, sweet or savoury, scones are a specialty of the British Isles, where they’re pronounced ‘skon’ in Scotland and northern England and ‘skoan’ in the south.

Since Mrs Beeton’s time, cooks have added various ingredients – fruit, cheese, nuts and, of course, pumpkin – to scones. The latter type was cemented on Australia’s culinary map by Florence Bjelke-Petersen (or Lady Flo as she’s known), a Queensland senator during the late 80s and early 90s and wife of former Queensland premier Sir Joh. During her time as a senator she became well-known for her pumpkin scones, her reputation for them rivalling that of her political career. “I hope they remember me first for being a senator, who just happened to make pumpkin scones,” recounts Florence. And the secret to these golden nuggets? Cook the pumpkin the night before and chill it in the fridge.


At A Glance

  • Serves 12 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 12 people

Additional Notes

WHERE TO TRY THEM

BETHANY FARM
There can be no better place to try a pumpkin scone than at the home of the Bjelke-Petersen family for more than 80 years. Lady Flo’s son and his wife offer afternoon tea on Wednesdays and Saturdays (bookings necessary) following a tour of the 365-hectare property. Former Prime Minister John Howard has even popped by for the legendary scones. Kingaroy, (07) 4162 7046.

CUPPA COTTAGE
It’s all doilies, tea cosies and dainty fine China cups, but don’t expect the quotidian Dandenong’s Devonshire tea here. They serve light, fluffy pumpkin scones alongside roaring pink rose cupcakes. 88 Station St, Sandringham, Vic, (03) 9598 9334.

LYNWOOD CAFE
On the menu for nearly a decade, the traditional puffy scones are fine restorative fare for those passing through the historic township. And the homemade rhubarb and raspberry preserve served with them is pretty darn good, too. 1 Murray St, Collector, NSW, (02) 4848 0200.

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