Sunday, November 17, 2013

Maple Pumpkin or Butternut Oat Muffins

A Dozen Muffins Cooling on Rack
Muffins Almost Ready to Eat

Recipe adapted from Slim and Scrumptious

In my quest to eat lighter foods to prepare for the inevitable holiday indulgences, I perused Joy Bauer’s Slim and Scrumptious, a collection of easy and healthful family meals. You might know Joy from her TV show Good Food, Good Deeds, where she teams up with Florence Henderson to create healthy meals for seniors. Joy’s recipe calls for canned pumpkin, but I substituted leftover butternut squash. Butternut won the pumpkin vs. squash pie smackdown last year, and it performed just as beautifully in the muffins, adding just a touch of extra sweetness to this low sugar recipe.

Stack of Muffins on Serving Platter
Brunch is Served
The secret to making good muffins is a 3-step process: thoroughly blend dry ingredients, thoroughly blend wet ingredients, and then combine wet and dry ingredients only until barely moistened. There is disagreement about whether to add wet to dry ingredients or vice versa, but I prefer to add dry to wet. This prevents an excess of dry ingredients in the bottom of the bowl after mixing. Lumps in the batter are a good thing, making the muffins light and airy. Overmix wet and dry ingredients, and you’ll likely get tough, flat muffins. No one wants flat muffins.

A Dozen Muffins in Muffin Pan
Fresh From the Oven
The original recipe calls for pumpkin pie spice, which is fine if you have it on hand. Otherwise, use my spice blend, or make up your own. Joy uses 2 teaspoons of spice, I kicked it up to 2½ teaspoons. I didn’t have quick cooking oats on hand, so substituted regular oats, which work fine and probably add a bit of texture. I also increased the proportion of whole wheat to white flour, and substituted soy milk for cow’s milk. Lastly, I used walnut oil, my favorite for baking, in place of canola. I also bumped up the amount of pumpkin seed topping by ½ tablespoon to add visual and taste appeal. If you don’t have pumpkin seeds on hand, use a few sunflower or sesame seeds for an unusual touch. Try whipping some of these up this weekend if you have some butternut squash hanging about.

Muffin on Fancy Plate
A Muffin for You
Maple Butternut Oat Muffins
makes 1 dozen

Sunflower or other oil spray
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
½ cup unbleached white flour
½ cup rolled oats
¼ cup evaporated cane juice (sugar)
2½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
¼ - ½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
¾ tsp. ginger
½ tsp. nutmeg
¼ tsp. allspice
1 large egg
2 tbsp. walnut oil
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup cooked, mashed butternut squash
½ cup lowfat soy or cow’s milk
2½ tbsp. unsalted pumpkin seeds

Prepare pan:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray 12-cup muffin pan with sunflower oil spray.

Prepare dry ingredients:
In a medium bowl, thoroughly whisk together whole wheat and white flours, oats, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice. Set aside.

Prepare wet ingredients:
In a large bowl, beat egg with a whisk. Add walnut oil, maple syrup, and vanilla, and whisk until well combined. Stir in mashed butternut squash. Stir in milk or soymilk thoroughly.

Combine wet and dry ingredients:
Pour dry ingredients over wet ingredients. Use a rubber spatula or large spoonula to gently fold the ingredients together until just barely combined. The batter should be somewhat lumpy.

Form and bake muffins:
Using a large spoon or 1/8 cup measuring cup, spoon batter evenly into muffin cups. A small spoonula helps to spread the batter into the cups to ensure that muffins are of equal size.

Sprinkle muffins with pumpkin seeds. Bake at 375 degrees F. for 18 – 20 minutes, until inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Cool muffin pan on wire rack for about 15 minutes, until cool enough to handle. Shake muffin pan to loosen muffins, and remove muffins to cooling rack or serving plate. These muffins may be cooled, individually wrapped, and frozen for up to 2 months. 

Uncooked Muffins Sprinkled with Seeds
Sprinkle on as Many Pumpkin Seeds as You Like

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