Thursday, October 28, 2010

Adventures in Pumpkin Muffin Making

I realized late last night that we had a costume party to attend today. A potluck costume party at our favourite drop-in playgroup, and I had promised to bring something. To make things worse, last year I set the bar way too high, bringing what I thought to be a pretty adorable fruit platter arranged to look like a happy pumpkin. I guess that’s the problem with choosing not to just pick up a box of Timbits on the way in. The next year, people remember. There are expectations.
I am not the world’s greatest baker. But I have a couple of close friends who could easily vie for that title. One of those friends brought the most delicious pumpkin muffins to our costume party last week. So feeling ambitious (and perhaps a little desperate) late last night, I decided that I would attempt to tackle her pumpkin muffin recipe.
I don’t know what it is with me and baking. I just seem to have this strange inability to ever follow a recipe. And as a result, my baking is generally mediocre at best. Armed with that knowledge, I got out my friend’s pumpkin muffin recipe…and promptly began to alter it. While she had stayed up late into the night baking fresh pumpkins and making her own pumpkin puree (she is a much more patient baker than I am!), I just used the canned stuff. And since I was already making changes, I threw in a few more little twists.  And to my great surprise, they ended up being delicious! Wonderfully moist with a very festive flavor, these muffins are healthy and so easy to make…
Pumpkin Muffins
3 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups white sugar (you can reduce this to one cup if you choose and still have yummy muffins)
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cloves
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups pureed pumpkin (I used canned, but I must admit that the fresh pumpkin my friend used was yummier)
2/3 cup applesauce
3 eggs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin tins or line with paper liners. Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, beat together pumpkin puree, applesauce and eggs. Add pumpkin mixture to flour mixture and combine until smooth. Bake roughly 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the muffin comes out clean. Makes 24 small or 18 regular sized muffins.
These muffins are delicious on their own, but for a festive Halloween twist, I covered them with cream cheese icing (no recipe needed – just combine softened cream cheese, icing sugar, and a tiny bit of milk, using your best judgment as to consistency and taste). I tinted the icing orange (using red and yellow food colouring) and then added happy pumpkin faces using a little tube of black icing (available in the baking aisle of the grocery store – a great thing to have on hand in your cupboard).
And the verdict? The playgroup costume party and the pumpkin muffins were both a smashing success! The kids loved them, the mommies and daddies loved them, even the grandmas loved them! They make a yummy Halloween treat, but don’t worry if you run out of time. They’d be great for Christmas too! Hope you enjoy them…

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