A small batch of four spiced pumpkin and walnut muffins – with tall muffin tops and only a little bit of oil.
What do you do when:
- It’s the great month of Pumpktober.
- You feel like baking and/or have a hankering for a pumpkin muffin (or two).
- But, at the same time, you really don’t need a bunch of muffins hanging around, calling your name, tempting you every time you walk into the kitchen…
- You have literally zero space left in your freezer – it’s stuffed to the brim with berries, bananas and a few things you randomly purchased because they were on sale. So you can’t bake a dozen muffins and freeze most of them.
What do you do? Simple: bake a small batch of pumpkin muffins! Ideally ones that aren’t loaded with oil, butter or a boatload of sugar (because that means I can eat more of them, right?).
As we move into the holiday season, I’ve been working on making some small batch recipes for those of us who want to bake a million things, but don’t have a large crowd to feed.
This particular recipe makes four tall pumpkin muffins. While these aren’t jumbo-sized, or ‘Texas’ muffins, they’re pretty big thanks to the sizeable muffin tops. The key to creating tall muffin tops is to:
- Fill the muffin holes to the very top.
- Bake the muffins at a high heat for five minutes, and then turn down the oven temperature (but, whatever you do, don’t open the oven door).
- Use reasonably new baking powder (that stuff doesn’t last forever!).
By the way, I have no idea why this post has so many lists in it. Maybe I’m just practicing before writing my completely unrealistic Christmas list.
The flavor of these muffins comes from the pumpkin puree (obviously), some brown sugar and a good hit of spice.
While canned pumpkin puree should be fine, nothing beats fresh puree from a roasted pumpkin. To make fresh pumpkin puree, roast some large chunks of pumpkin until tender, let them cool completely, and whirl them in a blender. Alternatively, you can roast a whole pumpkin, but that can take several hours depending on the size of your gourd.
Fun Fact: The world’s largest pumpkin was over five feet (1.5m) in diameter, and weighed more than 1,800 pounds (816kg).
For spices, we’re using a mixture of cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice. Yes, pumpkin pie spice contains cinnamon, but we still need more. Maybe I’m a cinnamon fanatic, but I generally find that pumpkin pie spice doesn’t contain nearly enough of the sweet spice.
Don’t worry if you don’t have pumpkin pie spice. Simply replace the ½ teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice with ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger and a good pinch of both ground nutmeg and cloves.
Last of all, there are the chopped walnuts for some extra flavor and crunchiness. If you don’t have (or don’t like) walnuts, try replacing them with pecans, almonds, dried cranberries, raisins or chocolate chips.
But please don’t omit the walnuts without replacing them with something else – without the walnuts (or other mix-ins), you might not have enough batter for four large muffins.
Fun Fact: If you ever feel the need to combine fall comfort with hard liquor, you can buy pumpkin spice vodka.
- 1 large egg
- ¼ cup (50g) brown sugar, packed
- 1 tablespoon (15mL) canola oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ cup (60g) pumpkin puree
- ¼ cup (60mL) milk
- ¾ cup (100g) all purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons (20g) rolled oats
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup (30g) chopped walnuts
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Grease four holes of a standard-sized muffin pan with cooking oil spray.
- In a large bowl, whisk the egg with a fork. Whisk in the brown sugar, canola oil and vanilla extract. Mix in the pumpkin puree and milk.
- Add the flour, rolled oats, baking powder, pumpkin pie spiece, cinnamon and salt. Mix until just combined. Gently fold in the chopped walnuts
- Divide the batter between the prepared muffin holes, filling each hole most of the way up.
- Bake at 400°F (200°C) for 5 minutes, and then reduce the oven temperature to 350°F (180°C). Bake for a further 11 – 14 minutes, or until the tops are firm and a skewer comes out clean (or with a few crumbs).
- Let the muffins cool in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooking rack. Store in an airtight container.
If don't have pumpkin pie spice, replace the ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice with ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon, ⅛ teaspoon ground ginger, a pinch of ground nutmeg and a pinch of ground cloves.
Cooking the muffins
This makes four big muffins. If the batter is divided among more than four muffin holes, the muffins will (most likely) cook faster.
If using a 6-hole or 12-hole muffin pan, fill the empty holes halfway up with water. This helps make sure the heat is evenly distributed.