Fresh Pumpkin Spice Muffins

???????????????????????????????Fragrant with spices and crunchy with pumpkin seeds and nuts, these muffins are a delicious October treat!

DSC03214I roast and puree  a sugar pie pumpkin. Just the name gets me singing “Sugar Pie Honey Bunch” (I can’t help myself! ) These are available at produce markets such as Berkeley Bowl or Monterey Market. They are slightly smaller than a basketball, and are more fleshy and less fibrous than a Halloween jack-o-lantern pumpkin. If you must, use canned pumpkin, but it won’t be quite as good.

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Pierce pumpkin several times and place on oiled roasting pan. Roast at 450 for 45 minutes until soft. Remove to a plate, and cut off stem. Use a knife to coax the peel off; it should easily come off. Let the pumpkin cool enough to handle while you mix the dry ingredients and whip the fats and sugars. Then put the flesh of the pumpkin in the food processor and process until smooth. It should make between 1 1/2 to 2 cups, depending on the size of the pumpkin. Measure 1 cup and reserve the extra for future muffins or  Pumpkin Pie.

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Makes 12 muffins

Preheat oven to 350’

Ingredients:

4 Tb butter at room temperature

2 Tb olive oil

½ cup brown sugar

½ cup white sugar

1/3 cup 1% or skim milk

1 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 eggs at room temperature

¾ cup unbleached white flour

¾ cup finely ground whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

¼ tsp baking powder

1 tsp ground ginger

2 tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp ground cloves

¼ tsp ground cardamom

½ tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp garam masala (optional)

½ tsp salt

2 large eggs

1 cup pureed roasted pie pumpkin

½ cup pepitas (green, shelled pumpkin seeds)

½ cup broken walnuts

Add lemon juice to milk and let it sit while you while you mix the dry ingredients and whip the fats and sugars.

Sift dry ingredients into a medium bowl.

Whip butter and oil for a few minutes, then add sugars and whip five more minutes at high speed, stopping to scrape the bowl a few times. Add eggs and beat, then add pumpkin puree and vanilla, beating until well combined.

While beating on the slowest speed, add 1/3 of the dry ingredients, ½ the milk mixture, another 1/3 of the dry, the rest of the milk, and then the rest of the dry ingredients. Mix only until combined. Add the pumpkin seeds and walnuts and stir in briefly.

Spoon batter into 12 muffin cups and bake 40-45 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a muffin comes out clean. cool on wire rack and enjoy!

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Squash or Pumpkin Gingerbread

My neighbor Shauna gave me these beautiful acorn squash that she grew. I roasted them and used them to make squash gingerbread.

I made the bread again, this time with pumpkin. It’s a bit more gingerbread than pumpkin bread; the squash taste is overwhelmed  by the gingerbread spices. You can roast and /or purée the squash ahead of time.

I used whole wheat pastry flour for a healthier bread.

Ingredients:

1 cup pureed roasted squash or pumpkin

½ cup mild molasses

1 tsp baking soda

1 ½ cups whole wheat pastry flour

1 tsp baking powder

2 tsp ginger

2 tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp ground cloves

¼ tsp salt

2 large eggs

1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup canola oil

Roast squash or pumpkin at 450′ for an hour or until soft. Slice in half when cool enough to handle. Remove seeds and fibers, then scoop out flesh and purée in food processor. (You could also used canned pumpkin puree if you’re looking for a shortcut.)

If it has cooled down, heat with molasses in a small saucepan or in the microwave. Stir in baking soda. The soda should cause it to foam. Let cool.

Set oven to 325’ Spray a 8×8 inch pan with nonstick spray, and line the bottom of it with parchment paper, then grease and flour the paper and the pan sides. I’ve also made this in a loaf pan, but it took 15 minutes longer to cook.

Mix flour, baking powder, salt and spices into a bowl.

In a mixer bowl, beat eggs, applesauce and sugar on high speed 3-4 minutes until thick and the color is lighter.

Fold in 1/3 flour mixture, then alternate with ½ the squash mixture, mixing gently by hand. Pour into pan and shake pan to even out the batter to all sides. Bake it until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes.

It’s especially good spread with cream cheese or lower fat Neufchâtel (nuf-shuh-TEL) cheese and topped with walnuts.