Monday, October 20, 2008

TWD: Pumpkin Muffins


Of all the Tuesdays with Dorie events I've had the pleasure of participating in thus far, I think these Pumpkin Muffins were quite likely the most straightforward, homespun, whip-it-up-and-enjoy-it yet. No blowtorches, no fancy ingredients, no techniques that require "mastering." Just good old-fashioned mixing-bowl low tech, and it made for a nice change of pace.


To me, there are few things as comforting as a warm, buttery muffin on a chilly day. (Or any day, really.) Muffins are like personal cakes, but without the "dessert for breakfast" guilt of a sweet roll. And these muffins go one step further by actually being ~ dare I say it? ~ good for you!

Because I knew that the primary consumers of these muffins (that is, my children) would be put off by the presence of raisins, I omitted them. I would like to make a few different batches, experimenting with chopped dates, dried sweetened cranberries and blueberries, and dried apricots, but this week's muffin was free from all fruit except the pumpkin puree.



For nuts I used walnuts, though I think pecans would be delicious too. The sunflower seeds sprinkled over the top initially seemed like an aesthetic afterthought but turned out to be one of the best features ~ I thought ~ of the recipe. I'd like to try substituting pepitas for the sunflower seeds sometime. Also, I'd like to do a batch with granola sprinkled over the top.



I replaced half of the unbleached white flour with whole wheat flour, a swap that not even my children could detect ~ pumpkin is a very assertive flavor, so it provides a nice camouflage for the stronger flavor of whole wheat. I replaced the buttermilk with plain homemade yogurt, because that's what I had. I doubled the recipe and made half into jumbo breakfast-sized muffins and the other into standard snack-size muffins. I got a full two pans out of the recipe.



Cutting these open, I was impressed by how dense the crumb is. I can see why Dorie suggests toasting these ~ I have no trouble believing they'll hold up in the toaster oven. In fact, I'm looking forward to testing this out for myself come lunchtime today.



Recipe Notes:

  • As with all muffin batters, it's imperative to avoid overmixing. You can use your stand mixer for the wet ingredients, and even for introducing the dry ingredients, but I suggest following Dorie's advice and completing the mixing by hand. I shut off my mixer as soon as the last of the flour-and-spice blend was added, and then used a spatula to mix the rest of the batter. My muffins rose beautifully, in spite of the density of the crumb.
  • You can use a spoon to fill your muffin tins, but for perfectly proportioned muffins, I love to use a spring-activated ice cream scoop. I have several in different sizes ~ one for mini muffins, standard muffins, and jumbo muffins ~ and I use them not only for scooping muffin batter into pans, but also for everything from cookies to meatballs.
  • Good-quality spices are important in this recipe, as their flavors will be showcased in the end product. I used ground nutmeg from the Spice House, and Vietnamese, Saigon Cassia Cinnamon from the Savory Spice Shop.
  • If you don't have buttermilk, you can substitute plain yogurt, or you can make sour milk by adding a tablespoon of white or cider vinegar to a measuring cup and then topping off with milk to reach the called-for amount.


Thank you to Kelly of Sounding My Barbaric Gulp for choosing these wonderful muffins! If you would like to make them yourself, the recipe falls on p. 13 of Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours, and it can also be found on Kelly's blog. Be sure to check out the TWD blogroll to see what the other bakers came up with!

22 comments:

  1. pecans are really great in these, so do give them a try. i love the granola topping idea!

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  2. Your muffins really look wonderful! I am sure that toasting them and slathering on a bit of butter will make them even tastier!

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  3. These look great and adding dates is also a great idea!

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  4. ~Lori: I will! :)

    ~Patsyk: Thank you! In my opinion, slathering butter on nearly anything makes it a bit tastier! These have the perfect texture to toast - very dense and moist, so they won't fall apart in the toaster oven.

    ~HoneyB: Thanks so much! I like dates - they get a bad rap sometimes, but they're really tasty in pumpkin things, I think.

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  5. Dates would be perfect in these, although I can see any dried fruit being good. And your granola idea for the top is INSPIRED! Beautiful muffins, and as always, terrific tips. Some day I'll get a bunch of those scoops...
    Nancy

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  6. Great looking pumpkin muffins. They look yummy!

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  7. ~Nancy: Thank you! I don't know what I'd do w/o my scoops! :)

    ~VeggieGirl: Thank you much!

    ~Pinkstripes: Thanks! I have to say, they were pretty yummy. Two days and the double batch is g-o-n-e. They're so dense and moist, but not too sweet. I'm going to make more as soon as I go grocery shopping to pick up a few more cans of pumpkin puree.

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  8. I love the paper cups, so beautifully natural. Where are they from?

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  9. What gorgeous muffins! They looks delicious and really pretty! Perfect!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  10. No fancy ingredients?? I had to make my own pumpkin puree, 'cause they don't sell that canned stuff here!! But these muffins were delicious and yours look amazing!

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  11. ~Amber: Thank you! Actually, I don't typically use paper cups when I bake muffins - I either grease the pan or use parchment slings. If I want to dress them up to serve them, as I did in the photos above, I'll wrap the bottoms in paper. Here, I just cut up some brown paper lunchbags and used kitchen twine to snug them around the muffins. Lunchbags are nice and thin, so they're easy to work with. You can put a layer of waxed paper inside if you don't want grease spots to show through. :)

    ~Rosa: Thank you! That's why I love my muffin scoops! :)

    ~Marthe: Wow, I guess you did have to go to work for these muffins! Here, they practically throw cans of the stuff at you the minute you walk through the doors of the grocery store! Starting in late September, big displays of canned pumpkin line the aisles! :)

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  12. Yum. I love dense muffins like this.

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  13. These look just perfect! Thanks for the tips on muffin making too - I need to find me a spring loaded icecream scoop pronto!

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  14. ~Jude: Me, too!

    ~Cakelaw: Thank you! Mine are the industrial type but I think OXO makes a few fancy-schmancy ones with ergonomic handles! ;)

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  15. Your muffins look lovely! Great job!

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  16. Oh my. Absolutely crave-iducing! They look delicious.

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  17. I'm going to have to try dates with these next time. I'm a date addict!

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  18. ~Gretchen Noelle: Thank you much!

    ~Cakespy: I thought so, too! I've made two more batches since last week, one with no nuts inside, one with Craisins inside and cinnamon sugar coating the top, both mini-size. Yum!

    ~Shari: I love dates too, especially combined with pecans. Mmm!

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  19. I did mine sans the raisins as well--though not for a kid-factor, for the husband-factor (he is not into the raisins!) I so enjoy your blog--I tend to venture on here when I'm looking for something to make! :) Love all the tips and inside-information you provide on the recipes!
    Ok, off to prepare my TWD post for tomorrow!

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  20. ~Lady Baker: Thank you so much for your kind words! I'm so glad to hear that you enjoy reading my blog! Looking forward to seeing your TWD this week. :)

    Cheers,
    Sandy

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