You knew this was coming, didn’t you? A whole day filled with pumpkins and autumnal squash. The girls haven’t even arrived and I’ve been busy – jetting downtown to Whole Foods to pick up a week’s worth of supplies, and surverying the lush and vibrant fall produce – rows of aubergines, leafy greens. Plump apples and piles of sweet pumpkin! After buying the store (and then some), I headed home, giddy. I couldn’t wait to fix the ultimate muffin!
But then there was the internet. Who knew finding a wholesome recipe could be so difficult?! A quick google search revealed pages of recipes that involved boxed cake pix (um, no thanks. you can keep your high fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated oils), and recipes that assume you’re a muffin-baking pro (translation = dodgy directions). Martha was a bit. Ina, zilch, and then I checked out one of my favorite blogs, smitten kitchen, and voila – gold.
What I love about Smitten Kitchen is the fact that you’re baking right alongside Deb. Food snobs, be forewarned. She sometimes flubs the recipes and she’s candid about her tips, mishaps and culinary adventures. Because who always gets it right the first time and wants to rub your face in it??! Oh, yes, that mousse was so easy. The pate a choux, a cinch. Reading Deb’s blog makes me feel less than a bumbling idiot in the kitchen.
One thing we both agree on – it is crucial to not overmix the batter. You’re tempted, I can feel it. But don’t. I like to call this the hockey-puck effect. When dealing with flour (like egg whites), be fearless, but careful. No one wants gummy, tough muffins. With this recipe, the tops will be a little crunchy (delish!! delish!!), while the insides will be moist.
Pumpkin Muffins (recipe snagged from Smitten Kitchen)
1Â½ cups all-purpose flour*
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin (from a 15-oz can)**
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pumpkin-pie spice***
1Â¼ cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar
Â½ teaspoon baking soda****
Â½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Put oven in middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Put liners in muffin cups. Whisk together pumpkin, oil, eggs, pumpkin-pie spice, 1Â¼ cups sugar, baking soda/powder, and salt in a large bowl until smooth, then whisk in flour mixture until just combined.
Stir together cinnamon and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar in another bowl.
Divide batter among muffin cups (each should be about three-fourths full), then sprinkle tops with cinnamon-sugar mixture. Bake until puffed and golden brown and wooden pick or skewer inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.
Cool in pan on a rack 5 minutes, then transfer muffins from pan to rack and cool to warm or room temperature.
*I used unbleached, all purpose
**Do not use the canned pumpkin pie filling, which is loaded with sugar and other terrible preservatives. Make sure the can says “pure pumpkin” or “packed pumpkin” – this is critical
***I didn’t have this handy (who does?), so after some careful research, this was my substitute: 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/8 tsp nutmeg, 1/8 tsp all spice (ratio should be 4:1:1). Update: In retrospect, I would have upp’d the ante on the nutmeg/all spice (perhaps 1/4 tsp each). :) I could definitely taste the spices, but I felt the muffins lacking, a smidge, in seasoning. Nothing to panic over.
****Ensure your leavening agents are fresh. This will make your muffins rise. Bicarb left for over 6 months won’t work as well.