Sunday, September 21, 2008

Spicy Pumpkin Muffins for Fall

Yep, the long awaited season of Fall will officially be here...I think tomorrow...and I'm welcoming it with open arms. The cool air, bright colors, and harvest flavors are such a delight in the Fall.

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.

Makes 12.


  1. Mmmmm...looks delicious! I need to get some pumpkin. About to be that time of year!

  2. Yes, here is to Fall and all the great baking (like these muffins) that go with it!

  3. Ohhh yum they look delicous - i'll have 3 please :)
    I can't get canned pumpkin here, how much pumpkin would i need to cook and mash to have the right amount?

  4. Yay! I love fall and pumpkin season! These look wonderful.

  5. Yum! We'll try these with maybe butternut squash, or maybe sweet potatoes. We miss pumpkins, over here. Butternut just doesn't quite get it. But ... we can have "fall" all "summer" long, 'cause summer doesn't visit except for maybe 2 days (we got to 82F this summer - woo!). ;)

  6. Anonymous3:57 PM

    Those look fantastic! I love pumpkin muffins.

  7. Anonymous4:35 PM

    Those look delish!! Gotta try them.

  8. Claire, pumpkin is one of the flavors that says 'fall' doesn't it?

    Peabody, I'll drink to that :)

    Katie, If you can find sugar pumpkins, cut one (about the size of a large melon) in half, scrape out the seeds, and bake it in a moderate oven for about 45 minutes. Scrape out the cooked pulp and put through a food mill or whirl in the food processor. That should be enough for this, with maybe enough left over for some pumpkin pancakes :) Butternut squash works, too, but the flavor isn't the same.

    Deborah, thanks! Glad you are a fellow Fall lover.

    Davimack, No sugar pumpkins in Scotland? Guess the butternut squash will do. I'll trade you a week with temperatures above 100 for your summer with only a few warm days. Thats why I like Fall...cooler weather, usually.

    Kristen, Me too!

    Susasn, Yes and yes.

  9. Excellent! Never tried making muffins with pumpkin as an ingredient before. Thanks Elle!

  10. I just gave you an award!