Albeit a delicious process. If you ask Nate, he’d probably tell you this process is instigated by my small, teeny-tiny addiction to pumpkins. Afflicted with the need to bike home with 20-pound pumpkins on my back, buy 3 pumpkins for the price of 1, and collect all sizes, shapes and varieties, I guess that explains why my back is achy and my wallet is empty. Unlike tomato season, I did not start a pumpkin fund. But I sure will start one next year.
It’s just so fun to say: pump-kin.
After my splurges on and stories about Lancaster County Long Neck, Moonshine, Cinderella, and the normal carving pumpkins, I realized that I wasted more pumpkin than I used. My eyes were wayyyyyy bigger than my stomach. Sometimes, I just buy pumpkins for their seeds, but how wasteful is that? My problem is that I have a hard time finding fresh and inspiring recipes. I see the same recipes all the time, and the pie was my aunt’s responsibility this Thanksgiving.
Although a month or two late, I luckily stumbled onto Smitten Kitchen’s library of pumpkin and winter squash recipes. My mouth watered immediately. I may have drooled while browsing through her gorgeous photos, but don’t tell anyone. Can’t wait to make that pumpkin and black bean soup.
But, now after I told you that I was looking for a unique recipe, well, this is anything but. However, these pumpkin muffins turned out to be incredibly deeeeelicious and super moist, light and fluffy.
My secret ingredient? Fresh pumpkin! I’ll always do my best to avoid that pumpkin stuff in a can. It kinda looks like gelatinous goo, which is kinda weird, right? It’s too dark (even the kind without spices), and super thick. No real pumpkin is ever that color on the inside.
I’ll apologize in advance, because I haven’t photographically documented this phase of the process yet. But if you have a spare afternoon and an extra pumpkin laying around, try this:The Pumpkin Process
Cut the top off the pumpkin. Turn the pumpkin flat-side down on the cutting board, and carefully cut the whole pumpkin in half. Cut the halves in half so you have quarters. Grab a pyrex or a rimmed baking sheet, put a bit of water in the bottom (about 1/8 to 1/4 inch deep), add the pumpkin cut side up and cover lightly with foil. Roast at 400 or 425 until you can easily prick it with a fork. Then pull that sucker out of the oven. You could dry-roast it with the cut side down, but this still dries out the pumpkin a little and gives you some tough edges.
Let it cool for a bit, and then use a spoon to scrape out all the yummy pumpkin flesh from the outer edge/rind. Some pumpkins hold a lot of water, so to get it to the best consistency for baking, it’s best to press as much water out as possible. If you have more time, you can let gravity do the work and let it rest in your fridge overnight. Just transfer the pumpkin flesh into a fine mesh sieve and put a bowl underneath it to catch the water. Cover with saran wrap to keep the top fresh. If you’re in more of a hurry, you can put it in the sieve and use a slightly smaller bowl to press down on top of the pumpkin, straining as much water as quickly as possible. You can get a little rough with it… it’s kinda fun! After the water’s out, depending on what pumpkin consistency you’re looking for, you can run it through a food mill, or just use a fork to mash it up for chunkier pieces.
And now you’re ready to bake! Use a cup for muffins, freeze the rest for another rainy day.Deb’s Pumpkin Muffins
Smitten Kitchen adapted this recipe from
the American club, in Kohler, Wisconsin via Gourmet Magazine,
and adapted again from Smitten Kitchen’s adaptation. Confused yet?
1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
(you can substitute white whole wheat for some, but not regular whole wheat)
1 tsp baking powder
1 c fresh pumpkin puree
(see directions above)
3 tbsp applesauce
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp pumpkin-pie spice,
or fresh ground cloves, allspice, nutmeg to taste
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/4 c sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
I couldn’t write this recipe better if I tried, so here is Deb’s description:
Put oven in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Put liners in muffin cups.
Whisk together pumpkin, oil, applesauce, eggs, spices, vanilla, 1 1/4 cups sugar, and salt in a large bowl until smooth, then sift/whisk in flour, baking powde, and baking soda until just combined.
Stir together some extra cinnamon and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar in another bowl.
Divide batter among muffin cups (each should be about three-fourths full), then sprinkle tops with cinnamon-sugar mixture. Bake until puffed and golden brown and wooden pick or skewer inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.
Cool in pan on a rack five minutes, then transfer muffins from pan to rack and cool to warm or room temperature.