Many years ago at my previous job, the owner’s mother brought in a batch of pumpkin muffins that were topped with cream cheese icing. I don’t think I had ever had pumpkin muffins before then and they were delicious! I’ve made pumpkin muffins a few times since then, trying a few different recipes but they were never quite the same as what I remembered. Many of them turned out too dense for my liking and didn’t have the right spice flavour that I wanted.
This year, I decided to experiment with making my own pumpkin muffin recipe to see if I could get the muffin I was looking for. I started with a banana muffin recipe of my mother-in-law’s that I really like as the base recipe. I figured that pumpkin and banana are similar in moisture content. I already liked this banana muffin recipe so I wondered if it would translate to a pumpkin muffin.
I started with just a straight swap of pumpkin for the banana in the recipe and added a few spices. It didn’t work. The muffins were okay, but a bit on the dense side and the flavour wasn’t right.
I decided to try again this weekend with some leftover pumpkin puree I had from my Halloween cake. I still had a feeling that I could make the banana muffin recipe work with some alterations, so I set to work figuring out what needed to be done.
I noticed that there was no salt in the original recipe, which I didn’t miss for the banana muffins, but I did for the pumpkin muffins. I knew one change would be to add some salt, which would boost flavour. The other thing I noticed was that the original recipe only used baking soda. I decided to swap in baking powder with a bit of baking soda for more leavening power. The original recipe called for either sour cream or milk. I didn’t want to use sour cream because although it generally gives good texture for cakes it can also increase the density if you are not careful. I considered buttermilk for increased acid to help with the rise but then decided to use orange juice. I had an orange that had been zested for an earlier cake to use up so I used that to help with a bit of extra acid. Next, I increased the spice amount for a prominent pumpkin spice flavour. I also increased the sugar a bit since pumpkin is not as sweet as banana, and used half brown sugar and half white sugar. I made sure to weigh the pumpkin for exactly 1 cup by weight to ensure that I didn’t add to the density of the muffin with extra pumpkin. Last, I used cake flour instead of all-purpose for a lighter crumb.
I was so surprised when I opened the oven door! These muffins were probably the best-risen muffins I had ever made! They looked like little volcanos. That was promising!
After letting them cool a bit, I cut one open for a much-anticipated taste test. They were light and airy with an almost cake-like texture and the taste was full of spice, but not overpoweringly so. I finally baked the muffin I was looking for!
I made these muffins with no extra fillings, but I think you could add in raisins, nuts or chocolate chips with success.
Pumpkin Spice MuffinsI tinkered around with this recipe until I achieved pumpkin spice muffins that have a wonderfully fluffy texture and bake up with nice domed tops. For the most accurate results, I recommend measuring by weight.
- Place an oven rack on the lower-middle position and preheat to 400 F/205 C/ Grease a 12-cup muffin pan.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the sugars, vegetable oil, eggs, pumpkin puree and orange juice.
- Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices into a medium bowl.
- Gently fold in the flour to the liquid ingredients, until just combined. Do not overmix!
- Divide the batter evenly between the cups of your prepared muffin tin. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes until the muffin tops are domed and begin to turn golden.
- Let the muffins cool in the pan for 5 minutes before removing.