Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Think autumn!
Pumpkin muffins quick and easy

Somehow we have raced through 2014, and it’s already pumpkin pie spice season again!

I’m not a coffee-drinker, so I’ve escaped the pumpkin spice latte craze, but I do love the yummy combination of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and allspice. I use these ingredients often in pumpkin or sweet potato pies, muffins and quick breads.

Over Labor Day weekend, I decided to bring a little bit of autumn into our home and made a batch of pumpkin muffins. I’ve made several pumpkin muffin recipes over the years, including one in this column that is made with two ingredients: spice cake mix and a can of pumpkin. (Baked at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.)

But for this recipe, I pulled out our favorite pumpkin apple bread recipe and made a few changes. I wanted something easy, so I decided I’d make my muffins without the crumb topping. I also used pumpkin pie spice rather than add the spices separately. It was easier, yes, but I’m not sure it was the best way. I smelled the dry ingredients, after mixing in the pumpkin pie spice, and decided to add a little bit of ground cloves. Next time I make these, I will probably just add the individual spices. That being said, the muffins are still delicious with the pumpkin pie spice blend! And if you don’t have cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice, it would certainly be cheaper just to buy a jar of pumpkin pie spice.

My daughter requested that her muffins be made without the apple. I scooped the first dozen muffins into the pan before mixing in the chopped apple. I liked the muffins with the apple, but they did not crown the way the others did. The ones without apple were definitely prettier! Also, I used a gala apple, and it was very sweet. Next time, I will stick to the original pumpkin apple bread recipe and use the tart Granny Smith.

Instead of apple, you could mix in raisins, craisins, nuts or a combination.

Before I baked my muffins, I gave them a generous coating of cinnamon sugar.

I’ve enjoyed eating the pumpkin muffins the last few days, especially as a mid-morning snack.

Pumpkin Muffins

3 cups self-rising flour

11/2 teaspoons cinnamon*

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup brown sugar, packed

1 16-oz. can solid-pack pumpkin

1/4 cup vegetable oil

4 large eggs, beaten lightly

2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped (about 2 cups)

Cinnamon sugar 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare muffin pan with baking spray for 2 dozen muffins.

In a large bowl, mix flour, spices and sugars. Stir in pumpkin, oil and eggs until combined. Fold in apples.

Scoop batter into muffin pan. Sprinkle muffins with cinnamon sugar.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minute depending on size of muffin cups.

Makes 2 dozen muffins.

*Instead of adding cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice, use 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice. When I did this, I added in an extra 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves as well.

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