"If you’ve got any pumpkin left after Halloween, or if you love these beautiful, glowing autumn vegetables as much as I do, here is a wonderful way to bring a little orange magic to your baking. Vivid, golden pumpkin flesh is a glorious addition to so many sweet things. All you need to do is steam it briefly and blitz it in a food processor to make your own pumpkin puree; here, it gives depth and warmth to some lovely fluffy scones. The mixture is spiced with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves – perfect partners for pumpkin – and fragrant with orange zest, with some little nuggets of chopped dried apricot for crunch and sweetness.
The pumpkin puree keeps the crumb lovely and moist, while giving these scones a delicious deep gold colour. A crunchy topping of pumpkin seeds adds a little texture and finishes the autumnal theme. These are great for brunch or afternoon tea; I love them slathered in ginger curd or lemon curd, but they’re also lovely simply spread with good salted butter, served alongside a cup of warming chai tea."
First, make the pumpkin puree. Steam the pumpkin chunks over boiling water for around 20 minutes (I use a bamboo steamer), or until completely tender to the point of a knife. Set aside to cool slightly, then puree in a food processor until completely smooth (add a splash of the milk if it needs loosening a little). Set aside.
Pre-heat the oven to 210C. Line a baking sheet with non-stick paper. In a large bowl, sift together the flours, baking powder, sugar, spices and salt. Add the orange zest. Put the butter in the bowl then rub into the flours with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
Whisk the egg and milk together in a small jug. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and add the pumpkin puree. Add the dried apricots. Add two thirds of the milk mixture to the flour and pumpkin and bring together with your hands to form a smooth dough – it shouldn’t be too sticky but nor should it be dry and crumbly. Add a little more milk if necessary, saving 1 tbsp of the milk and egg mixture for brushing.
Roll or flatten the dough out to around 1 inch thick. Use a scone cutter to cut circles out of the dough, spacing them apart on the prepared baking sheet. Roll any remaining dough together and cut more circles, until it’s all used up (you can roll any remaining dough into a small scone shape and bake that too).
Brush the tops of the scones with the remaining milk and egg mixture, then sprinkle with a few pumpkin seeds. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until risen and golden on top. Leave to cool for a few minutes before eating.