Pumpkin Muffins with Spiced Sugar
Shhhh… Listen. This is a safe place for Pumpkin (and Pumpkin Pie Spice) addicts out there. You’re not going to find any passive aggressive observations about pumpkin spice flavored candles and potato chips here. The single thing we will do is beg consideration for distinction between “pumpkin” flavored things and “pumpkin spiced" flavored things- This is one of those amazing recipes that thankfully has the pumpkin AND the spice. Hooray!
People say this a lot, but baking really is a science. Which is not to say that all but those who are in the STEM fields should attempt baking- but it does mean that instead of a stir fry where you can throw in a little of this and a little of that, a baking recipe has pretty clear and specific directions that depend on you following the steps exactly. Case in point, Jeff really needs you to try and get your hands on some cake flour, and using both baking soda AND baking powder for this recipe. Why cake flour? So glad you asked: All-Purpose Flour (sometimes called AP flour) has a higher protein content than cake flour has, which means higher gluten. If you haven’t wasted all of your weekends watch The Great British Baking Show like some of us have, higher gluten means a chewier texture that has larger crumbs. That’s great for a really delicious bread and a satisfying chewy cookie, but cake flour means light and delicate cakes (or muffins, in our case)- no one needs to know you’re basically just indulging in some unfrosted dessert for breakfast.
More science to throw at you- how come you have to use baking soda AND baking powder? Baking soda is used as a leavening agent in a lot of recipes but needs some sort of acid in order to activate and start creating carbon dioxide so your baked goods will rise (some common examples of what those acids might be in your ingredients list are things like buttermilk, cocoa, honey, or citrus juice). If you use too much baking soda your food can taste bitter though, and your food can only rise so much. Baking Powder can be used when there aren’t any acidic ingredients present and is actually a combination of baking soda and its own acid (usually tartaric acid, aka “Cream of Tartar”). So if they’re meant to do the same thing just in different circumstances, why do you use both in some recipes? For our muffins, pumpkin used is actually very mildly acidic. Because it IS an acid though, baking soda helps to neutralize that sharpness, but since the pumpkin is not AS acidic as say, vinegar or lemon juice where it would create a more dramatic reaction and release more carbon dioxide, the Baking Powder then helps to create more “room” for the muffins to rise and help lift take place. Combined with the more delicate cake flour which is already providing a more soft texture, the baking powder is going to ensure your muffins taste like a true piece of soft and tasty art and not just a humble knob of a flavorless, tough muffin.
As for the rest of the ingredients, consider the pressure off. Use some fresh pumpkin if you have it, but canned pumpkin is great too (just make sure it’s actual canned pumpkin and not canned pumpkin pie FILLING). The infamous star of our show? The Pumpkin Pie Spice of course! Our Pumpkin Pie Spice is hand blended fresh with cinnamon, ginger, clove and nutmeg pretty regularly here which means the flavors are going to be warm and vibrant and far more tasty than something that’s made in enormous batches that then sit on a super market shelf under fluorescent lights. Used a cup of pumpkin for the muffins, but still have a lot of pumpkin left? Consider pairing your muffins with something savory, like a Turkey and Pumpkin Chili!
This recipe makes 6 larger muffins or 12 smaller muffins. Don’t fret if you don’t have a smaller muffin pan, but you should note that if decide to make muffins half the size that means you can eat twice as many for the same amount of calories… But half the size does not equal half the time however. If you are making bigger muffins you’ll bake them for about 25-30 minutes, where smaller muffins will be closer to 20-25 minutes. Set a timer, but don’t count on it- instead, the best way to tell your muffins are done are by using the tried and true “toothpick method.” If you’ve never done the toothpick method before, you basically just stick a toothpick in the middle/highest part of a baked good and if you can pull it out with no visible wet batter or overly sticky crumbs, it’s done.
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Sift flour and baking powder into a bowl.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine pumpkin, eggs, oil, sugar, salt, Pumpkin Pie Spice, and baking soda together and mix well, but don’t over stir.
- Grease muffin pan. Divide the batter evenly in each cup. Sprinkle sugar mixture evenly over top.
- Bake 12 small muffins for 20-25 minutes, or 6 large muffins for 25-30 minutes. Check with a toothpick for doneness.
- Remove from oven, place pan on cooling rack. Serve when cooled.