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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Pumpkin Muffins Made with REAL PUMPKIN!!!

Pumpkin muffin

Pumpkin is one of those vegetables that most people buy canned. And the purchase of canned pumpkin is considered completely OK, even for gourmet types. Growing up, my Grandma Ana (a gourmet type for SURE) was always in charge of pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving dessert, and she used Libby's canned pumpkin nearly every time. I distinctly remember the one time she used a fresh pumpkin. The pie wasn't quite right. It was watery and not as full of flavor.

This memory has scared me off of baking with fresh pumpkin for my entire adult life. But then, in our CSA last week, we got a cute little pie pumpkin. It was just itching to be made into something, and since I didn't feel like dealing with pie dough, I decided that the something would be muffins.

The problem with deciding to bake with real pumpkin becomes very apparent if you do a Google search (or an Epicurious search) for pumpkin desserts. Every recipe calls for canned pumpkin. I decided to wing it, and I am super pleased with the results.

The recipe I used was this one from Smitten Kitchen, but I made a few adjustments. First, I didn't have any pumpkin pie spice, so I found a recipe for THAT as well. Second, I needed to accommodate for the fresh pumpkin. This was the tricky part. I cut my cute little pumpkin into quarters and cleaned out all of the guts and seeds (the seeds were later cleaned and then roasted with salt, pepper and paprika for a tiny snack). Then, I put the pumpkin quarters skin side up in a shallow dish with about an inch of water in the bottom. This went into the oven at 375 degrees until the pumpkin was very soft. I think it was about an hour, but you'll need to just keep poking at it with a fork.

Once the pumpkin cooled a bit, I scraped the meat from the skin into a bowl. I then grabbed some cheesecloth (if you don't have this in your kitchen, grab some at your supermarket in the cooking implement aisle - I use it all the time) and used it to squeeze all of the excess liquid out of the pumpkin. When I was done, I mashed it up into a fine puree, and voila! One cup of pureed pumpkin.

Pumpkin Muffins

1-1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup pumpkin (canned or fresh, prepared as above)
1/3 cup canola oil
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice or ground clove
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1-1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
cinnamon sugar
raw pepitas (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a muffin tin with paper liners. Combine all of the ingredients and stir gently. It is totally fine for the batter to be lumpy. Add the batter to the muffin tin. Sprinkle each muffin with some cinnamon sugar and some raw, green pumpkin seeds (pepitas) and bake for 25-30 minutes. Enjoy!

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