Ria’s Teashop Secrets: We love pumpkins!

Ria likes to use the best of what the harvest has to offer in her tearoom
Ria likes to use the best of what the harvest has to offer in her tearoom

Ria Chambers from Ria’s Rosy Lee Tearoom in Wellingborough on special events in October.

As autumn now takes hold, here at the tearoom we like to use the best of what the harvest has to offer in our baking.

As well as including the traditional apple and pears in cakes – as well as now stocking a range of Watergull Orchard Apple Juices from neighbouring Cambridgeshire for you to buy and take home – we also like to bake with the lesser-used pumpkin.

In fact we love pumpkins so much we dedicate the month of October to this vegetable.

Often consigned to being carved up for Halloween, this nutritious squash is full of versatility that should be explored.

Its relegation to lanterns on October 31 is thanks to America, where it was decided the turnip originally used by Irish immigrants who took the tradition with them was not big enough and decided to use their bounty of pumpkins which grow so well in their soil.

For me, though, the Americans have given back to rectify this downgrading of the pumpkin.

My great-aunt was a GI bride and my family in America have passed on their pumpkin recipes so I have a whole range to choose from.

The beauty of the pumpkin – other than its resplendent orange colour which can brighten any grey day – is its neutral taste means it will adapt to any flavours you add to it, so it can be made sweet or savoury.

This is the case of one of my more popular bakes in the tearoom – pumpkin scones.

These scones are lightly spiced, moist, and have a lovely warming colour.

They can be taken as a traditional sweet with jam, or as a savoury with an onion chutney (add any cheese to make a complete meal of it).

I am so proud of these scones I made them in the bake-off of the final of the Carlsberg Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards in the Best Independent Tearoom category.

Appropriately I will find out this month if we have won or not, so here’s hoping the pumpkin scones bring us luck in pumpkin month.

Another popular bake in the tearoom is a more traditional American classic of pumpkin pie.

The key to this dish is to add enough spice with the pumpkin and use a sweet base to ensure enough flavour.

All of this comes with the added health benefits of the pumpkin.

It’s full of fibre, has a low calorie content, and a high water content which helps towards your hydration levels.

So let’s all embrace the humble pumpkin this month!