pumpkin + caraway pan scones.

pumpkin + caraway pan scones.

Please allow me to introduce to you my opening shot for pumpkin season: the pumpkin pan scone. It’s not what you think, for there’s not one speck of cinnamon, allspice, or ginger to be found here. Nary a sprinkle of sugar in this little guy; just pure pumpkin, in a semi-savory dish perfect for any time of the day or night.

I’ve realized in the past few years that we (and I mean “we” like Americans) sometimes have too narrow a view of pumpkin and what it can do for us. We’re perfectly willing to whip up all sorts of squashes and root vegetables into savory dishes, but the pumpkin? Always the sweet treatment. Which is great, by the way, because I love it this way; I happily count myself amongst the pumpkin-spice-crazy crowd. Custard pies, cheesecakes, bars, you name it: sweet and delectable, to be sure – but there’s so much more it can do. 

Fun facts about pumpkins:

  • Did you know that 90-95% of processed pumpkins are grown in Illinois? That means I live basically right next door (in a state way) to all the pumpkins. The state is evidently covered with them; the roads are most likely blocked by pumpkins in some of the more rural areas.
  • Pumpkins are a fruit, not a vegetable, as I’ve always assumed they were. And we all know what happens when we assume things.
  • Antarctica is the only continent without pumpkins. True. All the other continents have zero problems freaking out over pumpkins.

Even the Aussies freak out over pumpkins, as evidenced in the current Donna Hay Magazine; Issue 69 here in the States. The entire magazine is filled with gorgeous recipes (as usual), but the pumpkin section is not to be missed. It’s brimming with all sorts of different pumpkin things to make, and every one of them is intensely savory; not a sweet one in the bunch. Fine by me, because I plenty of sweet pumpkin recipes on my list to try already. I could use some savory numbers.

pumpkin + caraway pan scones.

This pan scone seemed like a wonderful one to start with. I’ve never made scones in a cast iron skillet; excellent idea, right? perfectly round, with a lovely crust on the bottom and sides. Then the worry set in: I am notoriously messy with things which I have to roll out and subsequently transfer, and this called for it. Not even just once, but twice. But my fear was completely unfounded, because it was a breeze to transfer this dough, and, by the way, very easy to roll out to the correct size. If it’s too small, you can stretch it a bit; too big, and you can just scootch it together once both layers are in. Truly there’s almost nothing to it, and you end up with a very impressive-looking scone.

As for the taste (in case it’s difficult for you to imagine, given the ingredients), it’s very mouth-filling in that distinctly pumpkin way, with a sweet ribbon of ricotta running through the middle which almost makes it lighter. The caraway works along with the pumpkin seeds to give it that seedy crunch, and obviously caraway gives it a whiff of rye flavor without overdoing it. The piney citrus of the juniper berries pair nicely with the darker caraway, and adds a bit of overall brightness to everything. And yes, here’s that buttermilk again, this time in a scone, that really gives it a nice little soft, not-at-all-dry crumb. Some scones, let’s face it, are dry like the Sahara; this one is not at all that scone.

pumpkin + caraway pan scones.

I mean it when I say it would be perfect for any meal; particularly for brunch, as I picture it alongside some ham, maybe an egg dish, and the like. It’s a great fall alternative to the fresh fruit scones we lusted after all summer long. Alternatively, you could serve it alongside a soup or salad (or both) for lunch or dinner, or as the bread in a full dinner.

So there’s my pumpkin thing: there will be more, don’t worry. Along with my other adjustments, I’ve cut out some time here by skipping the whole preparing and roasting of the pumpkin bit in favor of the canned version, which some very knowledgable people say makes no difference in recipes such as this one. I agree with them; no need for extra work here.

pumpkin + caraway pan scones.

PS: I see your wheels turning, You, who are already thinking of ways to make a sweet version of this. I’ve thought about it too, and I’m sure it could be done; in fact, I may try it in my own kitchen, and if it works, I’ll post it.

Adapted from Donna Hay Magazine, Issue 69, which should be in at least the American and possibly Canadian bookstores right now. They also have back issues available on the Donna Hay Website. It’s not regular magazine price, at least not here: I can vouch for this particular issue in saying that I don’t think there’s one recipe in here (and there are tons of recipes) I wouldn’t love to make for myself. So, it’s worth the price. If you want to know what other things are in it, let me know and I’ll spill.

Pumpkin + Caraway Pan Scones

  • 2 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, + more for work surface
  • 2 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons caraway seeds, divided
  • 4 dried juniper berries, prepared*
  • 1 cup finely grated parmesan
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1 15 ounce container whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg yolk + 1 tablespoon buttermilk, for egg wash
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons raw pumpkins seeds, for sprinkling
  • coarse sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, for sprinkling

Juniper berries don’t just  get thrown into these types of recipes; they’re very big (hi, berries) and wouldn’t do much except for provide some of your guests with a weird surprise in their scone. To prepare them, place them in a small plastic bag and use a hammer or mallet to lightly smash them until open and flattened. Pour them onto a cutting board and finely chop them up, insides and outsides together. Now they’re ready to party.

Preheat the oven to 400˚F. I used a 12-inch cast iron pan for this, but the original says you could also use a lightly greased pie plate for this, with (I’m guessing) similar results. I’d stick with the cast iron if you have one, and if you don’t have one, you should: they’re fun to use, and inexpensive.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons caraway seeds, juniper berries (see note, if you didn’t already, on how to prepare juniper berries), parmesan, and pepper until evenly distributed.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the buttermilk and pumpkin puree. Use a knife to stir gently until just combined and everything is evenly moistened. Turn out onto a generously floured surface – your dough will be sticky – and knead gently just until a shapely little dough forms. Divide the dough into two equal pieces and shape gently into rounds. Roll out one of the rounds to form a circle the size of your cast iron pan. Transfer it into the bottom of the pan, then spread your ricotta evenly over the top. Repeat the rollout process with the other round, transferring it over the top of the ricotta layer. Tuck in the edges and gently press them together to seal the perimeter. Use a small, sharp knife to score the top where you want to cut the scones into pieces.

Whisk together the egg yolk and the 1 tablespoon buttermilk, and brush evenly over the top of the scone dough. Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon caraway seeds, then season with a little more pepper and some coarse sea salt. Bake for 22-28 minutes until done, checking at the 20-minute mark for doneness. When it’s baked, it’ll poof up a little in the center, be golden on top, and the scoring will be more visible (as you can see in the photos above.)

Remove from the oven and transfer the whole pan to a wire rack to cool down slightly. Serve while still warm; everything is still melty that way. I say this recipe easily serves 12-16 if involved in a meal; if you cut it into 8 slices, they’re pretty large. If it’s the only thing you’re eating, it could comfortably serve 8-10.

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44 Comments on "pumpkin + caraway pan scones."

  1. Emma says:

    Cute! These are very pretty, Shannon:) I especially like seeing you using tree parts! (mmm, juniper berries)

  2. Those look gorgeous Shannon! And that ricotta filling is a lovely surprise! I have to admit when looking at it I thought of cheese danish with that sweet filling…and then I thought of pumpkin cheese danish…and then I blacked out a little. Get on that would ya? I LOVE Donna Hay and ALMOST bought the latest issue at Barnes and Noble the other day. Now I’m regretting that I didn’t! Might have to go back and pick it up now!

    • shannon says:

      Thank you, Mellissa! And i did the same: nothing wrong with cheese danish or any sort of sweet filling, for that matter. and here’s what: you just made me think about pumpkin cheese danish at 6 am, and i’m hungry, so…bad things could happen. And by bad, i mean really good.
      do it! I love her magazine in general, but this one in particular is a great one for reference: it’s one of those ones you get that’s almost like a softcover cookbook, there’s that much good material in there. if it’s not there, she’s got back issues listed on her website.

  3. I’m happy that you incorporated pumpkin into a dish without all the usual thanksgiving-y spices. Pumpkin/squash definitely works in savory dishes- i love adding it it pasta. And it pairs amazingly with sage! I absolutely love that you made a giant scone in a pan…rolling out and cutting scones and transferring them to a baking sheet is my least favorite part. Also, that layer of ricotta in the middle there looks amazing. Anything creme-filled is o.k. by me ;) I’m totally checking out the other recipes in that magazine!

  4. So I totally read “Pumpkin + Caraway Prawn Scones” and was thoroughly concerned that you’d gone off the deep end, then I realized that I just don’t know how to read.

    This would be so easy to sweeten up, but I’d want to try your version BECAUSE IT’S NEW AND DIFFERENT!

    I’ve never even SEEN a juniper berry (but I think they go into gin?) and always wondered what it actually tasted like. Also, maybe just because it’s fall and pumpkin and orange but I am super in love with these photos.

    And I think I just drooled on my keyboard.

    • shannon says:

      That just made my mouth pucker a little bit. prawn scones. eeeuuaaah.

      THEY WOULD BE SO EASY! I feel like you’d just have to really get the ratios right so you weren’t overdoing (or underdoing) the sweet spices in it: bread things is hard that way b/c you just can’t always tell how it’ll go until it’s baked. The ricotta would be a piece of cake to alter into cheese danishland.

      ding ding, correct! they are a key component of gin, yes, and that’s probably what most people (except emma) would think of first with juniper berries. on their own, they taste vaguely piney (expected, as they come from pines) but also citrusy. some compare them to rosemary, but rosemary is much more straight pine forest: juniper berries are not so heavy pine b/c of the citrus thing they have going on.
      they are very orange-inviting, aren’t they! i was happy that came across. so it’s the color of pumpkin pie that got you. :)

  5. Totally intriguing! I like Donna Hay, too! I never figured out the whole pumpkin mystique, except that they are so gorgeous.I love the entire squash family and maybe that’s it-they are just so damn pretty. But this looks pretty damn pretty, too and I bet it tastes really good. Can’t wait to give it a go!

    • shannon says:

      She’s like, an angel of food, right? I also love the entire squash family, because they really are gorgeous, the gourds; so many colors and applications for them! These are very good, i promise: wait for a chilly forecast, then bake them up. the smell alone will get you in a totally fall mood.

  6. Ashley says:

    Blowing our foodie minds, yet again! These look awesome and oh-so-fancy with the pre-cut lines, sprinkle of pumpkin seeds, and cast iron skillet. I love the savory approach to pumpkin, though I, like you, always have a special spot in my heart and stomach for the sweet and spiced approach (pie! latte! c-rolls! milkshakes!). And you even dug into the deeper reaches of the spice cabinet with caraway and juniper berries! I think juniper berries are one of the few spices/herbs I currently do not own. Thank you for allowing me to remedy that :)

    Since you’re officially “in pumpkin”, are you on the Baked 3’s pumpkin chapter? Because I want to make every single recipe in it. Seriously.

    • shannon says:

      thanks, ashley! do you know that i’ve made these twice, and almost forgotten the precut lines EVERY TIME? :) but it’s a great guide once you pull them from the oven, and it gives them a little bit of fancy along with the seeds, that’s for sure. me too, with the sweet version: i don’t know if it’s nostalgia, or just that whole Pavlov’s dog thing of “hey, it’s chilly/hey! PUMPKIN SPICE!” that gets me, but i’m all up in it too once it gets cold out. I only knock it in august and early september, but i’d punch someone in the face for a pumpkin spice something when it’s chilly out. ;)

      side note: totally going to start calling cinnamon rolls “c-rolls.” that’s GANGSTER. like it would be a great foodie gang name. “yo, C-Roll, what’s up?” “nothing, O-Tart. not one thing.”

      it’s early.

      truth time: i can’t even OPEN baked 3’s (they really should just number the titles that way, right? that’s how i refer to them in my head) pumpkin chapter. I will, but i feel like i’ll have the urge to make all the things, so i need to keep myself from it for now. maybe that’s my october gift to myself. i feel like rainbows and ponies will fly out of that book if i open to that section.

  7. Monica says:

    The Donna Hay magazines are like works of art. I am always amazed by them. This recipe is so unusual. You know my knowledge of pumpkin is limited but even I can figure out that this is unusual. Love the look of these scones in the cast iron pan and the surprise when you slice it. You’ve got me really curious! Your daughter will grow up with an amazing palate, btw. : )

    • shannon says:

      “work of art” is an excellent way to put that: they really are…i’m always astounded by how much work goes into them and how beautiful they are; like a coffee table book for food. it really caught my eye BECAUSE of how unusual it was: the whole cast-iron thing is genius for scones (totally trying that again) and the ribbon of inside stuff? divine, especially when scones usually get the jam or curd treatment anyway. believe me, my mind is reeling with all the ways i can use both of those techniques. :)
      Well, Monica, yes: in theory, my sweet babe would grow up with an amazing palate, but at this point, it would have to be through culinary osmosis, because mostly, she refuses to eat my things, save for the sweet offerings. She’s getting better, but one of my dear friends and i joke about our kids: she’s a hair stylist, and her daughter had no hair for the LONGEST time (but will eat anything you put in front of her), and i’m the food writer, and my daughter wouldn’t eat anything for the longest time (but has incredible hair.) someday, i hope, she opens up more to food. she’s working on it.

  8. Totally loving the savory side to pumpkin!! And where does one find juniper berries to use? Fresh? Jarred? Foraged off the bush?? I can’t wait to see where the juniper berry might appear next and how it will be used (wink, wink ;))

    • shannon says:

      I feel like you’re figuring out my methods, elizabeth, what with all the wink-winking. i think you’re on to something, for sure. ;) probably from this point on, if you see something mildly crazy or elusive pop up in recipes, it’s a sneak peek of things to come. Locally, you can find them at Penzey’s Spices (or obviously you can order them from Amazon, but since we have a Penzey’s in the area, i say go for it), and they’re very affordable. AND i’ll say that i bet you can *hint* maybe find other things to use them for, so they won’t go to waste.

  9. sara says:

    Fabulous! These sound super delicious. :)

  10. For a minute there I thought you had gone over to the dark side and posted a pumpkin spice recipe. This one is a nice segue into early fall recipes. Wow, there is a lot going on in there! No wimpy flavors here.

    By the way, I didn’t see a ricotta amount listed. I might just be missing it, I tend to read too fast.

    I love baking in my cast iron. I get on kicks when I use my pans all the time, then I forget about them again. Maybe I should hang them on the wall so I remember them! Nah, I’d have to find studs and heavy duty hooks, since they are so heavy! Time to rearrange the cabinets.

    • shannon says:

      ha! I didn’t head to the dark side just yet, although certainly i plan to: i’m going to skirt around the darkside for as long as possible, but it’ll happen. I have a sentimental love for pumpkin spice, so i can’t keep it at bay forever. :)

      oh! i’ll check the ricotta amount: now that you say that, i don’t remember typing it. i think it’s one container, but i’ll have to look at my notes and add that. Thanks for catching that! Always helpful because once i publish, i rarely go back and look unless someone has a question.

      I am the same with cast iron: my kicks are infrequent, however, and they need to be more regular. I kept it out after this recipe was finished in the hopes that i make more things. They’re a wonderful pan; i forget that when it’s scurried away in the cabinets (because yes, SO HEAVY!). someday in my Dream Kitchen, i’m hoping there’s an easy-access space especially for cast iron.

  11. Faygie says:

    *pinned*

    While I’m so tired of seeing pumpkin recipes already (and it’s not even October yet), this is different enough that my first though wasn’t, “Ugh, ANOTHER pumpkin recipe???”, but, “This is so something I would love to make!”. These sound so good. Bonus points for the cast iron skillet, because I love baking in mine!

    • shannon says:

      You know, I need to take this as a lesson to keep my cast iron pan in a more convenient location: i don’t use it nearly as much as i should, and i know (because i know myself) it’s because it’s difficult to get out due to where it is stored. I haven’t put it back in its place yet, and i don’t think i’m going to; all of you rave about your cast iron skillets in a way that makes me want to make an effort to use mine more. So thank you so much for that. :)
      I’m happy you liked the savory application here! I was really thrilled with the result: at first i was leery, because you just never know how your palate will accept a difference, but these really are lovely. The caraway and juniper combined with the pumpkin is similar to our feelings about corn and sage: i had no idea it would work SO well together, but it really does work.

      • Emma says:

        My problem is that both my cast iron skillets always seem to be filled with leftover bacon grease. Not really much of a problem, now that I think of it.

  12. Dana Staves says:

    This was just about the best post about pumpkins I’ve ever read. Fun facts, a recipe, and the solidarity of the pumpkin craze? Win, Shannon. Total win.

    • shannon says:

      Listen: it’s a high compliment when you say you like reading what i write. Why? Because i know you know what you’re talking about. Like right now i feel like i’m an honorary bullet point in the “Read Right Now” series, yay!

  13. Pan scone! Best idea. And this lovely pumpkin ditty has made me forget how annoyed I get with pumpkin-everything at this time of year. This recipe is different, and cool, and made in a skillet which automatically makes it better than everything else. Also, that cross section photo made me really happy. Congrats on making me fall in love with pumpkin all over again. Don’t bother writing – Pumpkin and I will be honeymooning for the next week or so.

    • shannon says:

      i’ll say i’ve already gone through the five stages of grief this year when it comes to pumpkin.

      Denial: This can’t be happening already this year.
      Anger: ARE YOU KIDDING ME WITH THIS. WHY IS EVERYONE AHEAD OF ME, IT’S AUGUST.
      Bargaining: I’ll just make some pumpkin spice things really fast. just to let people know i wasn’t asleep at the wheel, here. I don’t even want to eat pumpkin pie right now, b/c it’s 98 degrees here, but fine.
      Depression: *sobs* i’m a terrible food blogger.
      Acceptance: It’s going to be okay, because, savory pumpkin pan scones.

      I hope you and Pumpkin have a great time together. Pictures when you get back! :)

  14. I never knew most of the processed pumpkins in the US were grown in Illinois! I hae to admit when it comes to pumpkin, I tend to think sweet first. But pumpkin in the US is different from pumpkin in Europe, where most of the recipes are savory – my understanding (perhaps incorrect) is what they call pumpkin is more like one of our squashes – acorn squash, maybe. Anyway, I’m off topic! This scone recipe looks terrific. I gotta try it – thanks so much.

    • shannon says:

      John, i default to sweet things too with pumpkin: those first pumpkins show up in markets, and i can practically taste nutmeg, ginger, allspice, and cinnamon, and there’s nothing at all wrong with that. I think it’s great we’re all so sentimentally tied to those flavors, no matter what part of the country we’re from. and yes, we are very different from Europe in our treatment of pumpkin; in the Donna Hay magazine the original recipe came from, they refer to all squash varieties as “pumpkins” so where we say butternut or acorn, they would just have them fall all under a general pumpkin heading. I’m happy you like the recipe! if you happen to see the Donna Hay mag i got this from, pick it up: you’d find many more interesting takes on the pumpkin.

  15. Deb says:

    Baking with juniper berries is new to me. An intriguing pairing with pumpkin! I can only imagine the compelling aroma of scones baking! A refreshing pumpkin recipe for autumn!

    • shannon says:

      Thank you! Deb, i encourage you to try it sometime; maybe if you can’t find an appealing recipe out there with juniper already, try subbing juniper in for something which has rosemary in it and see if you like it. I hate to say they’re similar, because they truly each have their own thing going on, but juniper and rosemary are similar in that piney way. and, as with rosemary, you shouldn’t overdo it.

  16. Mimi says:

    Beautiful! Did you omit the ricotta in the recipe?

    • shannon says:

      mimi, you know, i DID omit the ricotta, and i just fixed it thanks to you. Someone else asked me that earlier, and when i went to update, wordpress just wouldn’t let me do it (seemingly anytime something is “urgent”, wordpress mysteriously doesn’t let me make changes). Thank you very much for the reminder; it’s nice to have people looking out for you!

      • Mimi says:

        I only noticed it because I kept trying to figure out what the white stuff was in the middle!
        I maybe should consider myself lucky because i’ve never had issues with wordpress. i’ll keep my fingers crossed!

        • shannon says:

          Mimi, i’ll tell you: i never had any big issues at all with WP. mostly, i’ve only run into one thing, and that’s where it times out when i’m trying to save a revision or add a photo. It’s frustrating when it happens, but it happens infrequently, and never for long periods of time. Certainly it could be worse: i still think WP is the easiest and most reliable thing to use considering i’ve heard nightmarish stories of entire blogs being lost.

  17. Love these! My usual instinct for savoury pumpkin dishes is to use Indian or South Asian flavours, but I’m totally on board with pairing pumpkin with caraway and ricotta instead (and juniper! I don’t make nearly enough things with juniper!)

    • shannon says:

      thank you, Isabelle! there are not nearly enough things out there involving juniper, i think, and it’s too bad, because juniper can add so much as an ingredient. And i am on board with any indian or south asian pumpkin dishes, for sure: pumpkin goes so well with the traditional spices of those two cuisines. yum!

  18. Wendy says:

    I would like a few of these immediately, please. Though my family doesn’t agree, I could skip sweet pumpkin completely. Savory pumpkin, on the other hand, I love. Apparently I have Australian taste buds. :) I am NOT trying to figure out how to make this sweet. I AM thinking of the numerous special meals in the next few months where I can serve these. The ricotta in the middle makes these scones a meal in themselves! As bizarre as it may sound, I just bought juniper berries. I had never even heard of them until recently. I was at a spice store in Chicago and there they were, so I bought them without any idea of what I would do with them or how to prepare them. Not only did you post a recipe using juniper berries, you explained how to prep them! Did the original recipe give that info or are you a research genius? ( I suspect a bit of both. :) )

    • shannon says:

      hey: sweet pumpkin things are practically in our DNA, wendy. We can’t help ourselves. Savory pumpkin is a nice departure from all the sweet stuff, and i’m happy you agree. And you’re right: the ricotta in the middle certainly makes them hearty; they’re great with soups and salads, especially salads, because you end the meal feeling as though you had something more substantial than just lettuce leaves.
      i love that you just bought them for no reason! they’re interesting, aren’t they? The original recipe actually didn’t even include juniper berries; i added those myself, thinking that they would make a nice, woodsy addition to the caraway. AND *HINT* i had just recently used them in a *HINT* recipe i developed for *AHEM* someone for their November issue. So i knew how to use them, as i yes, had done some research.
      So if you’re looking for another recipe to use juniper berries in, wait approximately 16 days and you’ll have one. :)

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