The only time I eat real fried doughnuts is when I go back home to Canada. I make the requisite trip to Tim Horton’s, get one Dutchie, and that’s it for the year. This weekend, armed with a special doughnut pan, I made baked doughnuts. They were okay, but they weren’t doughnuts. So, I have relegated baked doughnuts to the bottom of my favorites list, along with chilled soups. And I made these lovely fragrantly spiced pumpkin muffins to brighten up this chilly September afternoon. These are quick to put together, so you can enjoy them anytime of day. They’re great with some chai tea, or your morning coffee. I topped mine with a little cinnamon sugar and fortified the warm spice flavor with diced candied ginger. Some day I’ll make “real” doughnuts; and when I do, you’ll be the first to know.
Spiced Pumpkin Muffins
(makes 10-12 muffins)
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon (I used Vietnamese cinnamon from Penzey’s )
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
3-4 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 cup mashed pumpkin (mashed sweet potato or other cooked winter squash can be substituted)
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup finely diced candied ginger
Preheat the oven to 400F. Spray standard muffin cups with non-stick spray, or line them with baking papers. Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl, adding in the orange zest, and mixing with a fork to break up any lumps of brown sugar. In a medium bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, egg , milk, and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Pour the pumpkin mixture, along with the melted butter and diced candied ginger, into the dry ingredients. Mix gently with a rubber or silicone spatula until all the dry ingredients are moistened, stirring from the bottom of the bowl. Don’t overmix, a few lumps are okay. Portion the batter into the muffin cups, filling them 3/4 full. (I got 12 standard-sized muffins). Bake in the middle of the preheated oven for 18-20 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean and the muffins are lightly browned. Remove from the pan to a rack to cool.
Optional but good:
Melt 2-3 tablespoons unsalted butter in a small bowl. In another small bowl, mix together 3 tablespoons granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. While the muffins are warm, gently brush the top of each with a little melted butter, then dip into the cinnamon sugar. Set aside to cool for about 30 minutes.
(adapted minimally from “Sunlight Cafe” by Mollie Katzen)