Harvest-Time Muffins

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Pumpkin Muffins

Although I’m not the biggest fan of pumpkin pie (I far prefer sweet potato), I am mad about pumpkin in quick breads and cakes.  These muffins, which combine roasted pumpkin puree, dried cranberries, and a crumbly, crunchy, green and gold streusel of toasted pecans, pepitas and cornmeal, are so perfectly autumnal that they’d make a wonderful Thanksgiving Day breakfast.  If you bake the pumpkin and prepare the streusel the night before, you should be able to throw these together while sipping your first pre-turkey-baking cup of coffee.

This recipe makes quite a lot of muffins, which would work if you’re having plenty of guests for Thanksgiving, but you could also cut the quantities in half for a more sensible dozen and a half.  You could also bake the full recipe in two loaf pans for about an hour and a half, and freeze one of the loaves for another day.  While the streusel is crunchiest the day the muffins are baked, they will keep very well at room temperature for a further day or two, which should get you through the whole holiday weekend with aplomb.

Pumpkin Muffins with Pecan-Pepita Streusel
(Adapted from Leslie Mackie, Macrina Bakery & Cafe Cookbook, 2003)
Makes 36 muffins

1 medium pie pumpkin (around 2 pounds)
Several tablespoons light-flavored oil for baking (i.e. not olive or nut oils)

1 cup pecans
1 ½ cup pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds)
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons cornmeal
6 tablespoons light brown sugar

3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup light-flavored oil (e.g. grapeseed or sunflower seed)
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 ½ cups light brown sugar
4 eggs
¾ cup buttermilk
1 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 375 F and line a baking sheet with foil. 

Cut the pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds, and scrape the inside clean.  Further cut each half into two or three wedges, rub the cut surfaces with oil, and place cut-side-up on the baking sheet.  Bake until the pumpkin is fully tender, approximately 20-30 minutes.  Let cool, then scoop the cooked flesh away from the peel and into a large measuring cup.  Puree until smooth with an immersion blender.  Measure out two cups of pumpkin for the muffins, and set aside any extra for another use.

Spread the pecans on an unlined baking sheet and the pepitas on another sheet.  Lower the oven to 350 and toast the nuts and seeds 10-15 minutes in the oven, watching carefully to avoid burning.  Let cool, then mix the pecans and pepitas together and chop medium-fine.  Set aside half this mixture for the muffins, and place the other half in the bowl of a stand mixer with the cold butter, cornmeal, 2 tablespoons flour and 6 tablespoons brown sugar.  Mix with the paddle attachment on low for 1-2 minutes, until a crumbly streusel forms.  Refrigerate the streusel until ready to top the muffins.

When ready to bake, heat the oven to 375 again and line 3 muffin tins with paper liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk together remaining flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. 

Combine the oil and sugars in the stand mixer bowl and mix with the paddle attachment for 4 minutes on medium speed.  Add the pumpkin and mix for 2 more minutes.  Mix in the eggs one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next.  With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients and buttermilk in a couple of alternating additions.  Stir in the cranberries and second half of the pecan-pepita mixture.

Using an ice cream scoop, divide the batter evenly among the lined muffin tins.  Sprinkle each muffin with the streusel mixture and bake until the tops spring back and a skewer inserted into a muffin comes out clean, 20-25 minutes.  Cool briefly in the tins before removing to a wire rack and cooling completely.

Posted by Gabriela on 10/28 at 01:34 PM

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