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- Why Use Sourdough in Scones?
- 👍 Why You'll Love This Recipe
- 🔍 Tips for Making Flaky Sourdough Pumpkin Scones
- 🛠 Tools Needed:
- 🛒 Ingredients Needed:
- 👨🍳 How to Make Sourdough Pumpkin Scones
- How to Store
- ❓ Sourdough Pumpkin Scones FAQs:
- Sourdough Pumpkin Scones
- Other Recipes You Might Like:
Scones often get a bad reputation for being dry or bland, but these Sourdough Pumpkin Scones are tender, flaky, and moist! They’re full of real pumpkin flavor and make an easy breakfast sourdough discard treat in the fall.
I love using real pumpkin puree in desserts, because it adds natural moisture and an earthy flavor to baked goods. In tandem with sourdough discard, the pumpkin puree makes these scones extra tender and balances out the light sweetness and pumpkin spices in the scones.
To bring it all together, the pumpkin scones are topped with a simple pumpkin cinnamon glaze. They’re excellent served with your morning cup of coffee (maybe a pumpkin spice latte?) or tea, or as a cozy fall afternoon pick-me-up snack.
This recipe post walks through many tips to ensure you get the best sourdough scones that rise tall in the oven with many flaky layers. I also include a note on how to make a copycat version of the Starbucks pumpkin scones!
👉 For more pumpkin sourdough discard recipes, check out my Sourdough Pumpkin Waffles, Sourdough Pumpkin Whoopie Pies, Sourdough Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread, and my Sourdough Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins.
Why Use Sourdough in Scones?
In the United States, scones are quite similar to biscuits. They’re both mechanically leavened quick breads using baking powder and/or baking soda, a fat (typically) butter, and a dairy such as buttermilk or heavy cream.
One key difference is that American scones often include an egg to assist with the leavening and structure.
So if sourdough isn’t providing leavening power to scones, why use it at all?
That’s because using sourdough starter (or sourdough discard) makes the scones more tender and adds a subtle acidic flavor. This is not unlike using yogurt, buttermilk, or sour cream in a baked recipe.
Sourdough discard is ultimately unfed fermented flour and water. And since discard doesn’t have the leavening power of active starter, the gluten structure has completely broken down.
Hence, the acidic starter acts as a tenderizer to the scones and will react with the baking soda to help them rise.
Furthermore, depending on how old your discard is, it adds a nice tanginess to your scones. This balances out the earthy, sweet flavors of the pumpkin puree and sugar.
👍 Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- It’s made with real pumpkin:
- Like banana or zucchini bread, using real pumpkin in a recipe is great way to add seasonal fruits or veggies to baked goods.
- The pumpkin adds a subtle earthy and almost savory flavor, natural orange color, and moisture to the scones.
- You can use canned pumpkin puree (recommended) or roast your own pumpkin.
- Makes tender and flaky scones:
- As mentioned above, sourdough discard helps to tenderize the scones and inhibits gluten development for a flakier scone.
- In addition, I quickly fold the scone dough on top of itself to create extra layers. This quick lamination process helps the scones rise taller as it creates more layers. It’s an easy trick I use for shortcakes, biscuits, and pie crust.
- It’s an easy, quick recipe:
- There’s no fermenting since the scones use sourdough discard. The baking powder, baking soda, and single egg do all of the leavening. That way, the scones rise tall in the oven!
- Can add any glaze:
- I like a simple pumpkin cinnamon glaze for the tops of the scones, but you’re welcome to use any other glaze or skip it altogether.
- For my sourdough blueberry scones, I use a very basic and classic powdered sugar and milk glaze. You could add maple syrup, top with crunchy pumpkin seeds like in this buckwheat bread, or do a brown butter cream cheese frosting like in my cinnamon rolls.
🔍 Tips for Making Flaky Sourdough Pumpkin Scones
- Keep the ingredients and scones cold before baking
- The key to making great biscuits or scones is to keep your butter and ingredients cold before baking.
- I freeze the scones as the oven preheats, which helps them keep their shape and creates more steam in the oven. The steam between the cold layers of butter and dough help the scones rise taller.
- Don’t overmix the dough
- Use pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling
- Like my Sourdough Pumpkin Waffles, only use real pumpkin puree in this recipe. Pumpkin pie filling includes sugar and spices, so using it will cause the scones to be too sweet.
- Laminate the dough for flaky scones
- Lamination in baking typically refers to folding layers of butter and dough together to create many flaky layers, like in croissants or rough puff pastry.
- You can mimic lamination by folding the layers of scone dough just a few times like a letter. This will create stacks of buttery layeres of dough that will puff up in the oven.
🛠 Tools Needed:
Click the links below for my favorite tool recommendations.
- Baking Scale
- Weighing your ingredients will immediately make all of your baking better because it’s more consistent, precise, and better repliactes an author’s recipe.
- Flour and sourdough starter can weigh very differently from person to person, so weighing your ingredients is the best option if you can!
- Sheet Pans
- This recipe makes 8 large scones. You can easily double the batter to make 16 and bake them on two sheet pans.
- Bench Scraper
- A bench scraper is one of those handy kitchen tools I always find myself reaching for. From shaping bread to picking up kitchen scraps and transferring chopped herbs, it’s a great all-around kitchen tool to have on hand.
- I like to use a bench scraper to cut the scone dough and to help transfer them to the baking sheet. However, you can use a sharp kitchen knife too.
- Pastry Brush
- The scones get a light egg wash before baking to create shiny, brown tops. I find it also acts as a binder to help the scones stick together better too.
🛒 Ingredients Needed:
Click on the links below for my favorite ingredient recommendations. Ingredient substitutions are also listed below.
🎃 Sourdough Pumpkin Scones
- All-purpose Flour
- Baking Powder
- This batter isn’t fermented, so the sourdough doesn’t add leavening to the recipe. The baking powder and baking soda are the mechanical leaveners that both help the scones rise taller.
- Baking Soda
- Both baking powder and soda go bad over time. Learn how to test yours here.
- Pumpkin Pie Spice
- Pumpkin pie spice, or pumpkin spice, is a pre-mixed spice of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and allspice.
- However, you can also use the individual spices if you don’t have pumpkin pie spice. To make your own, combine 1 tsp of cinnamon, and ¼ tsp each of ground nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and allspice.
- Unsalted Butter, cold
- If you’d like to substitute with vegan or plant-based butter, you absolutely can!
- Pumpkin Puree
- Pumpkin puree is 100% canned pumpkin, or squash. Libby’s 100% Pure Pumpkin is the best quality and very consistent. Don’t use pumpkin pie filling since it’s already sweetened and spiced.
- If you want to go the extra mile, you can also roast your own pumpkin or squash and puree it to use in the recipe.
- Light Brown Sugar
- Brown sugar provides sweetness and also adds more moisture and flavor from the added molasses.
- Egg, plus another for egg wash
- Sourdough Discard
- Vanilla Extract
- There’s not that much liquid in this recipe, because the egg, pumpkin puree, and sourdough discard all have moisture that will bring the dough together.
- However, you do need a little bit of buttermilk or another liquid to bring it all together. I like the tangy flavor of buttermilk in these scones, but you could substitute with heavy cream, whole milk, or plant milk.
- Powdered Sugar
- Pumpkin Puree
- You only need a couple of tablespoons of pumpkin puree to mix in with the cup of powdered sugar to make the easy pumpkin glaze. It should be enough liquid, but if you need to add a dash of milk or water, you can add a splash at a time.
- I add a large pinch of cinnamon to the glaze so you get little specks of spice in the glaze and for that classic pumpkin spice flavor, but you’re welcome to leave out or use another spice.
👨🍳 How to Make Sourdough Pumpkin Scones
Follow this visual and detailed recipe guide as you make these delicious sourdough pumpkin scones.
1. Mix the Dry Ingredients
Prepare a half-sheet pan with a piece of parchment paper and set aside while you make the scones.
Whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl, including:
- 240 grams of all-purpose flour (two cups)
- 2 ½ teaspoons of baking powder
- ½ teaspoon of baking soda
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice
- Alternatively, use 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon and ¼ teaspoon of ground nutmeg, cloves, and ginger.
2. Add the Butter
Cut 113 grams (one stick) of cold unsalted butter into cubes. Toss them in the bowl of dry ingredients until coated completely in the dry ingredients.
Smash the butter cubes into shards about the size of walnut halves and peas. A mix of sizes is good.
You can use a pastry cutter to do this, but I find that your hands do just as good and fast of a job.
Note: Keep the butter cold to make the scones flakier. If it’s a warm day, I will refrigerate the bowl with the butter as I do the next step.
3. Mix the Wet Ingredients
In another small mixing bowl or liquid measuring cup, mix the wet ingredients, including:
- 66 grams (⅓ cup) of light brown sugar
- 122 grams (½ cup) of pumpkin puree
- 100 grams (½ cup) of sourdough discard
- 1 egg
- 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
Keep a ¼ cup of cold buttermilk (or milk or heavy cream) to the side. You’ll only use this as extra hydration to bring the dough together as needed.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and butter and use a spatula to bring the pumpkin scone dough together.
At first, the dough will be very dry, but it will hydrate some as it’s mixed.
Pour in a couple of tablespoons of cold buttermilk (or milk or heavy cream) into the dough to bring it all together into a shaggy, but mostly cohesive mass.
There should still be some specks of flour and visible pieces of butter in the dough. The scones will hydrate more as we fold it in the next step, so don’t worry if it seems too dry right now.
4. Fold, Shape, and Freeze the Scones
Sprinkle a work surface with a generous amount of flour to prevent sticking.
Dump the pumpkin scone dough out onto the floured work surface and use your hands to pat it into a rectangle, about a half-inch thick. If it’s at all sticky, sprinkle more flour on top.
Then, use your bench scraper to fold the scone dough like you would fold a letter in thirds. Fold the top third down into the middle and fold the bottom third up and over that fold.
Rotate the dough 90º, pat it back out into a rectangle and repeat the folding process.
This quick lamination will create more layers and help the scones rise tall in the oven! Flour as you go if there’s any stickiness.
After the last fold, pat the dough into a 10-inch (25cm) round. Use the bench scraper or a sharp knife to cut out 8 triangles.
Pick up the triangles and place them evenly on the prepared half-sheet pan.
Freeze the scones as the oven preheats to 400ºF (204ºC).
Note: At this point, you can freeze the scones until solid, at least an hour, and then place them in freezer-safe bags to freeze for up to a couple of months. This way, you can prepare the scones ahead of time.
Before baking, brush the tops of the scones with a light egg wash.
Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the scones have risen tall, the tops are lightly golden brown, and your kitchen smells like pumpkin butter!
Cool the scones on a wire rack completely before making the glaze.
6. Make the Pumpkin Glaze
This pumpkin cinnamon glaze is super easy to make and comes together in just a couple of minutes.
In a bowl, add 120 grams (one cup) of powdered sugar, ½ teaspoon of cinnamon, and a couple tablespoons of pumpkin puree.
Stir with a spoon until you get a very thick, orange glaze.
To thin it out, add a splash of milk or buttermilk to the glaze at a time until you get a thick but pourable glaze.
Finally, dip the tops of cooled scones into the glaze or drizzle the glaze on top of the scones. That’s it!
Note: Starbucks discontinued their famous spiced pumpkin scone this year, but you can easily make a copycat from home with this recipe. To do so, you have to make two separate glazes.
One should be a white glaze of just powdered sugar and milk. The other should be half the amount of the pumpkin cinnamon glaze above.
First, dip the tops of the scones into the white glaze and let the tops of the glaze dry out slightly for at least 30 minutes. Then, drizzle thin lines of the pumpkin glaze over the white glaze!
How to Store
Scones are best within the first couple of days they’re made. If you can wait to drizzle them with the glaze, they’ll last a little longer.
Keep the scones in an airtight container at room temperature for a couple of days. You can store them in the refrigerator too, if you’d prefer to get an another couple of days out of them. Reheat before serving.
Can I Freeze Sourdough Pumpkin Scones?
I wouldn’t recommend storing already-baked scones because they taste so much better fresh and bake up so quickly! However, if you do plan on freezing them, don’t glaze the scones and store them in a freezer-safe bag for a few months.
However, freezing before baking is a great make-ahead option that I highly recommend so you can have pumpkin scones on a weekend morning! Freeze the unbaked scones on their sheet pan for at least an hour and then transfer them to a freezer-safe bag for a few months.
To bake, follow the same instructions! They may take an extra couple of minutes in the oven since they’re frozen solid.
❓ Sourdough Pumpkin Scones FAQs:
Can I double the recipe?
Yes. Double all of the ingredients and divide the scones between two sheet pans to make 16 scones.
Can I add chocolate chips to the scones?
Chocolate chip scones are excellent and it’s easy to add them to this recipe! Add ½ cup of mini chocolate chips to the batter after mixing the wet and dry ingredients together.
Can I add whole wheat flour to the scones?
Yes, you can easily substitute some or all of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour for a heartier sourdough scone. Note that whole wheat flour will soak up more liquid, so you may need to increase the amount of buttermilk slightly.
How can I make vegan sourdough pumpkin scones?
Substitute the butter with vegan butter, use plant-based milk, and leave out the egg!
Sourdough Pumpkin Scones
Sourdough Pumpkin Scones
- 240 g All-purpose Flour, 2 cups
- 2 ½ tsp Baking Powder
- ½ tsp Baking Soda
- 1 tsp Kosher Salt
- 2 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice, or 1 tsp ground cinnamon and a ¼ tsp each of ground nutmeg, ginger, and cloves.
- 113 g Unsalted Butter, cold, one stick
- 122 g Pumpkin Puree, ½ cup
- 66 g Light Brown Sugar, ⅓ cup
- 1 Egg, plus another for egg wash
- 100 g Sourdough Discard, ½ cup, or active sourdough starter
- 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 61 g Buttermilk, ¼ cup, or milk or cream
- Line a half-sheet pan with a piece of parchment paper and set aside.Whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.240 g All-purpose Flour, 2 ½ tsp Baking Powder, ½ tsp Baking Soda, 1 tsp Kosher Salt, 2 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
- Cut the stick of cold butter into small cubes and toss it into the dry ingredients. Use your hands to smash the pieces of butter into different-sized pieces.113 g Unsalted Butter
- In another bowl or liquid measuring cup, mix all of the wet ingredients except the buttermilk.Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients and use a spatula to bring the dough together into a dry mass. Then, pour in a couple of tablespoons of buttermilk at a time to bring the dough together.It's normal for the pumpkin scone dough to still be dry with floury specks remaining. It will get mixed further in the next step.122 g Pumpkin Puree, 66 g Light Brown Sugar, 1 Egg, 100 g Sourdough Discard, 2 tsp Vanilla Extract, 61 g Buttermilk
- Flour a work surface, dump the scone dough out, and pat it into a rectangle, about a half-inch thick. Sprinkle flour on top if sticky.Use your bench scraper to fold the dough in thirds like a letter. Rotate 90º, pat back into a rectangle, and repeat the folding process. This will create more flaky layers (photos and more folding instructions in the guide above).Pat into a 10" (25cm) round and cut out eight triangles with the bench scraper. Place the scones evenly onto the prepared sheet pan and freeze the scones while you preheat the oven to 400ºF (204ºC).*
- Once the oven is preheated, brush the tops of the scones with a light egg wash.Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the tops are lightly golden brown. Cool completely on a wire rack as you make the glaze.
- Mix the powdered sugar, cinnamon, and pumpkin puree together in a bowl until you have a thick glaze. Thin it slightly with only splashes of buttermilk (or other cream) at a time until the glaze is thinner and pourable.Dip the cooled scones into the glaze or drizzle on top!120 g Powdered Sugar, ½ tsp Ground Cinnamon, 2 TBS Pumpkin Puree, Buttermilk
- *At this point, you can freeze the scones for at least an hour to make ahead of time and transfer them to a freezer-safe bag for up to a couple of months.
- Follow my guide for more detailed instructions and photos to make this recipe step-by-step.