Monday, October 26, 2009

A whimsical pumpkin muffin

The month-o-squash continues with these muffins:How fun, right?

While things got a little messy
they were very easy to make (no electric mixer needed). And they were delicious. They have a subtle molasses flavor that just makes the pumpkin and spices sing.

First, soak the raisins in a cup of hot water for five minutes. This helps the raisins plump up and retain their moisture in the baking process.
In the meantime, mix together your dry ingredients. How is it that the smell of cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg never ceases to intoxicate me?
Next, add your brown sugar to the dry ingredients. This adds more hints of molasses, as brown sugar is white sugar with molasses.
Now, for the pumpkin-y wet ingredients. Whisk together butter, pumpkin, buttermilk, eggs, molasses, and vanilla.
Now, make a well in the middle of your dry ingredients.
And pour in the pumpkin mix.
Stir that until just combined. Really, no overstirring is allowed at this point. Overstirring develops glutens in the flour which makes for tough muffins. Yul. Stirring until just combined, on the other hand, makes for light, fluffy wonderful muffins. Yum!
Now, stir in your raisins. I made half of this recipe with raisins and the other half without (apparently not everyone realizes that pumpkin and raisins were meant to be).
Spoon that lovely batter into your pre-greased muffin tins. I like to use a ice-cream scoop for this. It ensures that every muffins cup has the same amount.
And, for my favorite part, top each muffin with chopped walnuts. This is what I love about the recipe: you still get the walnut taste; but instead of being hidden and boring on the inside, they are on top looking fun.
Then, into the oven they go. Twenty minutes later, you get these gorgeous muffins.
Let those sit for five minutes in the pan and turn them out.
Just look at them, who wouldn't find these delightful?

Pumpkin Walnut Muffins (adapted from
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin*
1/4 cup well shaken buttermilk
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons unsulfured molasses
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour (or 1 cup all purpose and 1 cup white whole wheat)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon**
1/2 tsp ground ginger**
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup raisins*** (golden or regular, as you see fit)
3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts (about 3 ounces)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and grease 12 1/2-cup muffin cups.

Melt butter and cool slightly. In a bowl, whisk together butter, pumpkin, buttermilk, eggs, molasses, and vanilla. Into a large bowl sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt. Whisk in brown sugar. Make a well in the center of the flour mixutre and add the pumpkin mixture. Stir until just combined. Stir in raisins and divide batter among cups. Sprinkle walnuts evenly over batter in each cup. Bake muffins in middle of oven 20 to 25 minutes, or until puffed and a tester comes out clean.**** Cool muffins in cups 5 minutes and turn out onto a rack.

*The original recipe calls for 3/4 cup pumpkin, but having experimented, I think 1 cup is better (December 2010)
**I always make my cinnamon and ginger heaping. But this is a bad idea with cloves and nutmeg, because those are really strong spices.
***The original recipe calls for 3/4 cup pitted dates (about 4 ounces). 1/3 cup of raisins does not make for a very raisin-y muffin. If you like your muffins full of raisins, you may want to try 1/2 cup of raisins.
****20 minutes was perfect in my oven

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