A local bakery used to have a pumpkin muffin with a sweet cheese surprise inside each fall, usually through Thanksgiving. The crumbly topping was part of the charm, too. Now the bakery is owned by someone else and the pumpkin muffins no longer have the cheese filling and the topping isn't as copious, but the muffin itself continues to be one of the best. The pumpkin flavor is intense, the spices are rich and they add walnuts for crunch.
Baking and cooking things that require long oven time, or roasting and braising become a favored activity in the autumn. Last week I tried making my own version of the pumpkin muffins, although I didn't do a topping, just a sprinkle of broken toffee walnuts. I used canned pumpkin, which is so easy, but the pumpkin flavor wasn't quite as intense at the bakery's. I added some molasses and maple syrup for sweetness and flavor, sour cream for moistness and tang, and applesauce to add moistness and cut the amount of oil needed. They must have been good because Sweetie ate three of them barely out of the oven. I thought they tasted better the next day.
So here's to Autumn - more baking weather, brisk walks through fallen leaves, brilliant blue skies and new recipes.
Spicy Pumpkin Muffins
started with basic muffins in Joy of Cooking, then went wild
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 large eggs ( or ½ cup egg substitute)
1 cup canned pumpkin – not pumpkin pie filling
¼ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
¼ cup maple syrup
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup molasses
¼ cup sour cream or nonfat sour cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup raisins
¼ cup chopped walnuts or chopped toffee coated walnuts
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease and flour (or use baking spray) one 12- cup muffin tin. Set aside.
In a large bowl or on a large sheet of waxed paper, measure out all of the dry ingredients and spices: flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, ginger, nutmeg. Mix together with a fork. Set aside.
In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, pumpkin, oil, applesauce, maple syrup, granulated sugar, molasses, sour cream and vanilla.
Put the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture bowl. With as few strokes as possible, combine the wet and dry ingredients. Do not over mix. Fold in the raisins just to distribute.
Fill the muffin cups ¾ full with the batter, dividing evenly among the cups. Sprinkle the tops with the chopped nuts.
Bake in the preheated oven 20 – 25 minutes, or until muffins spring back when the center is gently pressed.