Making Pumpkin Scones

New Zealand/Australian scones are so like American biscuits it’s tempting to say there’s no difference between them at all. That’s not true of course. On balance they contain a little less butter and are moistened (at least the pumpkin versions) with egg instead of buttermilk, which gives them a more tender, cake-like crumb. Another big difference is that they’re frequently loaded up with flavorings like pumpkin, cheese or dates. Most Americans (especially Southern Americans) view flavored biscuits with deep suspicion, if not outright
hostility. These, however, are fantastic.

Begin by preheating your oven to 450 and setting a shelf on a high rack. Like any small quick breads, you’ll get a higher rise from a quick blast of high heat. Sift your dry ingredients together in a medium bowl.

Lightly beat the egg and milk together in a small bowl.

Add the butter to the dry ingredients and rub it in.

There isn’t enough butter to create a “corn meal”-like consistency, but you get the idea.

Add the pumpkin…

…and work it in by hand. You’ll get a rather shaggy dough. Don’t sweat it.

Add the egg mixture…

…and gently work it in with a spatula. Like American biscuits, you want to avoid working this dough too much.

The dough should be soft but not wet. Add another teaspoon or two of milk if it’s too dry. Transfer it to a well-floured board and pat it down to a thickness of about an inch.

Using a 2-inch cutter, cut out as many scones as you can.

Bring the scraps together, pat them back down to a 1-inch thickness and repeat the cutting until you have 12 scones.

Lay them out on a sheet pan, it need not have parchment on it (what can I say…force of habit). You can paint them with either milk or butter. Since I want a little color on the tops, I’m using butter.

Bake them 10-12 minutes until they’re well rise and lightly browned.

Serve them warm — split and slathered with jam. Tomato jam works especially well with these in my humble opinion.

22 thoughts on “Making Pumpkin Scones”

  1. No eggs in your average New Zealand scone Joe. We do use ordinary milk though, not buttermilk. We tend to think of eggs in scones as being American!
    This is the “standard” recipe that most people will have (the Edmonds Book has been our best selling book for decades):

    We also tend to add more solid things, like dates or raisins, than mushy things like pumpkin, although that is changing a bit. I used to make a thing that was basically a sweet scone dough with grated apple and egg in it, and I think it was called a teacake. You made it in a circular shape that you cut in wedges, but you baked it with the wedges still in the circle so it had to be broken apart before you ate it. Many people bake scones like that too.

    1. No kidding? I was misinformed. But I got the basic recipe from a Kiwi! Oh well…still works in principal. Thanks!

      – Joe

      P.S. No surprise about the eggs being called an “American thing.” We get blamed for everything.

      1. I suspect that you might need to add eggs to scones when they have a large proportion of non-flour solids in them to give some sturdiness to the final product.
        Googling New Zealand scone recipes ( you will find one or two that have eggs amongst the dozens that don’t. You also find the infamous “lemonade scone” recipe. I’ve never tried it, but I know people who have; mostly blokes, camping. It’s supposed to be OK.

    2. Thank you Heidi and C and Christine! The fruit in these was Cape Raisins, but you can use any fruit you fancy as I am sure you all do! Christine, I was confused too by the betrutmilk and as the key thing is the acidity of the liquid so that it reacts with the raising agents I have done the same thing in recipes that call for b’milk and used yoghurt. Gives the same result. Maybe historically there was always betrutmilk around in farm kitchens, hence its regular appearance in simple breads and cakes and its use in soda breads?

  2. So what exactly is the difference between a scone and an (American) biscuit? They’re both small, chemically-leavened breads made by the same process (rub together fat and dry ingredients, add liquid, mix quickly).

    I tend to think of scones as being slightly sweeter and containing egg, but that might just be me. On the other hand, I’ve also seen recipes for things like cheese and garlic scones, which are definitely savoury.

    I’ve asked a few people this question – I think my favourite answer so far is my husband’s: “Scones are English, biscuits are American”!

    1. Your husband is basically right. British scones are a completely different animal. Not the same as either American scones (or biscuits) or NZ/Australian scones. A basic American biscuit and a basic NZ/Australian scone are – basically – the same thing.

      I should do some British scones just to keep confusing things. Thanks for the email!

      – Joe

      1. For something almost completely different, try potato scones and griddle scones. Both are Scottish.
        I do think English scones are much the same as ours though. Ah – a quick Google tells me they have eggs in. Not your fault after all.

  3. Hi Joe, as Bronwyn posts above, if it isn’t in the Edmonds Cookbook, it’s not authentic NZ 🙂

    Lemonade scones are well worth making, just substitute lemonade for the liquid (milk etc) in the mix.

    Date scones usually have the dates soaked for a time in hot water with bicarb before adding to the dough, although they work just as well without the soaking and bicarb.

    It’s hard being a blogger with a worldwide audience, you’re sure to have at least 20 people telling you when you go wrong 🙂

    Take care


    1. It’s a cross I’m wiling to bear, Warren! 😉

      I’m a very lucky fellow.

      – Joe

    2. From now on I should just do projects from countries where I have no readers…then I’ll look like a genius!

      – Joe

  4. I have to agree with Bronwyn that NZ scones do not contain egg. I think pumpkin scones are more an Aussie thing than a NZ thing, but I’ve certainly seen them made here.
    Bronwyn, where are you? I’m in the North Island, and wonder if you are South? There are definitely regional differences in our cooking (witness the cheese roll).
    Lemonade scones are actually very nice, and you can make a savoury version with soda water and cheese, or a low fat version with diet lemonade and milk instead of cream, I also make low calorie lemonade pancakes sometimes.

    1. I’m in Dunedin, but was born and brought up in the Hutt Valley and lived for a good few years in Palmerston North.

      1. Ahh, we’re probably related then! 😉 I’m a Christchurch girl, but lived most of my life in the Wairarapa, with 15 year detour to Palmerston North as well.

  5. I made this recipe yesterday, but a sweet version. I added sugar, ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon (pumpkin pie-ish) and they were delicious. I also made some pumpkin (buttercup squash) muffins with ginger and garam masala, using coconut water as the liquid and some chopped up young coconut added. Also delicious.

  6. Guess it’s that time of year–I’ve been on a baking with pumpkin jag, too. Just made a pumpkin quick bread that is really good (she says modestly). Tip: Some finely grated fresh ginger really adds flavor. Also made some pretty iced pumpkin-shaped sugar cookies to take to kids at Thanksgiving–they will love ’em, I’m sure.

    Hope you have a wonderful holiday.

    1. Fantastic ideas as always, Nancy! Thanks so much for commenting. Have a terrific holiday yourself!

      – Joe

  7. Hi Joe,
    M from malaysia… Scones is not uncommon here…
    Good scones is served in few places (as if i knew how good scones is) in this country.
    and i regularly bake it . i always choose recipe that have eggs in it.
    M not sure whether it’s more american, Oz/Nz or even english!
    sometimes i make it sweet by adding dried fruits and other times i make it savory by adding herbs n cheese.
    may be i can add some spices too… just to be more adventurous.

    1. Hello Lily!

      Those are all excellent ideas. It’s funny, Americans don’t recognize many rules or traditions when it comes to food…but we’re plain stubborn about biscuits (scones). I wish flavored biscuits were more common in the States (but don’t tell anyone over here I said that).

      – Joe

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