Tis’ the season for Pumpkin Spiced everything, y’all! I held out as long as I could before sharing a pumpkin recipe, but time waits for no woman. These Spiced Pumpkin Muffins are moist, spicy with the flavors of fall, and use a whole can of pumpkin puree! That’s right, no more trying to figure out what to do with that 1/4 cup of puree you always have left over.
I haven’t always been the biggest fan of pumpkin. I think I suffered a huge disservice throughout my childhood, in that, pumpkin only came to me in the form of a freezer-burned, curdled custard baked inside of a crust more reminiscent of cardboard than pie dough. Boxed, frozen pumpkin pies are gross, I don’t care what Auntie Patti says. That said, I’m proud to report that I have overcome my disdain of pumpkin recipes; pumpkin pie excluded– that’s still on my blacklist.
Now I need to get this recipe out to you before January comes and, with it, God knows what new craziness.
What is Spiced Pumpkin?
Spiced Pumpkin is just my way of being extra. Most everyone else refers to this as “pumpkin spice” but that’s overrated here.
No, but, to be honest, there is a good amount of spice in this recipe. Think of these muffins as a spiced cake with pumpkin added to it. That gives you a better taste expectation, I think.
What do I need to make these Spiced Pumpkin Muffins?
I make my own Pumpkin Pie Spice Blend and I highly recommend you use it in place of the 6 spices this recipe calls for. But, if you’re not in the mood to make a 5 minute- spice blend [side-eye], I implore you to not use the store-bought pumpkin spice “stuff”. There will be no spiced pumpkin goodness if you use that junk.
This recipe calls for all-purpose flour, baking powder, soda, the spices and some salt to make the dry ingredients. The wet ingredients consist of light brown sugar, eggs, pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling), melted butter, and vanilla. The muffins can be topped with streusel or baked naked. I highly recommend the streusel topping, though.
Combine the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl first. That is, the all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, allspice, cloves, nutmeg, and the salt. Use a sifter to aerate, and break up any lumps in, the dry mix. Sift the dry mix together: as little as one time, or as many as three times. The more you sift, the lighter your muffins will bake up.
Once you sift the dry ingredients together, set the bowl aside.
Why do I have to mix the dry ingredients separately from the wet?
I cringe whenever I watch a tasty video where they add the eggs in with the flour and mix for centuries. Just watching that, I know that their muffin or quick bread is going to be tough and full of holes. The reason you combine the dry ingredients separately from the wet is because it minimizes the length of time you have to mix the batter once it’s all assembled. Since flour contains gluten proteins, the longer you mix it, the tougher the product becomes.
Because I want a light muffin, I whip the eggs and sugar together on high speed using an electric hand mixer. Then, I add the rest of the wet ingredients: the pumpkin puree, melted butter, and vanilla. You don’t have to do the pre-whip, you can, instead, dump all of those ingredients into a bowl and blend on medium speed until smooth.
Why do my Spiced Pumpkin Muffins come out tough?
If you skipped the separate mixing of the dry and wet and, instead, dumped everything into a bowl, you’ve most certainly overmixed the gluten in the flour. As a result, inside, your muffin looks like swiss cheese: big holes developed, which is called tunneling. Likewise, your muffins are chewy instead of tender. I’m sorry for ya’.
When it comes to making muffins, quick breads, or biscuits, chant this mantra: “Mix just until incorporated.” Because these recipes are supposed to be tender, you don’t (and shouldn’t) whip them like an ex who cheated on you.
Add half of the dry ingredients to the bowl of wet ingredients. Blend the dry into the wet on low speed for 30 seconds, or until the dry is just blended in. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl and the beaters. Now add the remaining dry mix and blend again, this time only for 30 seconds: even if you can still see unincorporated flour. Once you stop the mixer, scrape down the bowl and beaters. Use the rubber spatula to fold in the last bits of flour by hand. The bare minimum of mixing is what keeps the muffins soft. Stop when there’s no more bits of flour showing.
What’s the best way to scoop the Spiced Pumpkin Muffin batter?
Now, if you don’t want a cage-fight between your offspring, it’s best to make muffins that are equal in size. A portion scoop (what some people refer to as an ice cream scoop) is the best way to ensure you get them.
You don’t have a portion scoop? Use your 1/3 measuring cup. While I don’t like the measuring cup route, desperate times call for desperate measures. I don’t like the measuring cup because, inevitably, you end up with tons of batter on the outside and inside of the cup. That means you need to use the rubber spatula to remove the excess. That leads to spills and messes on the muffin tin and on the countertop. Spills and messes equal lost muffin batter, which means Junior doesn’t get the same size muffin as Sissy. Tears follow, parent pulls hair out, and 2020 just got worse.
So, a portion scoop is the best way to scoop out your muffin batter. Do so and plop your batter into a baking cup-lined, greased muffin tin. You have enough batter to fill each cavity 2/3s full. The leftover batter is just enough to deposit a quarter-size dollop on top of each muffin. Ever wonder how bakeries get that perfect dome, or “muffin top”? An extra dollop of batter on top creates that.
What is Streusel Topping? Do I have to top my muffins with it?
Streusel Topping is a mixture that is often sprinkled on baked goods: muffins, pies, or danish. It consists of flour, fat (usually butter), and sugar that’s been rubbed together. While I have a whole post dedicated to making a basic streusel, I want to encourage you to flavor yours according to the season. The basic recipe can be the perfect topping for these muffins, as is. However, instead of making it with the 3/4 teaspoon of cinnamon and with nuts, I omit the nuts and add 1 teaspoon of Pumpkin Pie Spice Blend.
Even if you don’t use the Pumpkin Pie Spice, I’d still omit the nuts if you’re making the streusel for these muffins. In all honesty, it won’t hurt to add the nuts, but they don’t do much to make them better, either.
Say you don’t want to add streusel. That’s okay! You do you, Boo! Omit it and keep it moving.
But, if you do want to add the streusel, do so generously. Top each muffin batter-filled cup with a tablespoon of the streusel topping. Tap the muffin pan against the counter a couple of times to anchor the topping to the batter and slide the pan into a pre-heated oven.
How long do I bake muffins?
Muffins bake time is 18-22 minutes. Yes, I realize that 4 four minutes is a wide berth, but the exact time depends on how evenly your oven bakes. I always bake my muffins for 18 minutes, then allow carryover cooking to finish the job. A too-moist muffin is better, in my opinion, than a too-dry muffin. Not only will an overbaked muffin dry out inside, the top will become crunchy and hard.
Bake the muffins for 18-20 minutes to start. After 18 minutes, press one of the muffin tops lightly with a finger. If the top springs back, the muffins are ready to come out of the oven. If, on the other hand, your finger sinks into the muffin, they need to bake 2-3 minutes longer.
After the muffins are baked, remove them from the oven and set the pan on a cooling rack. Let the muffins cool in the pan for 5 minutes. This 5 minute cool down gives the muffins a chance to develop a wee-bit of structure before you go manhandling them. After 5 minutes, remove the muffins from the pan, place them on the cooling rack, and cool until your mouth can handle their temperature.
And, excuse me!! How cute is my pumpkin pie tea towel?!?!
How long do I cool muffins after baking?
The length of time you cool the muffins totally depends on you. I’m usually fighting my savages back with the muffin tin after de-panning mine. You, on the other hand, may have more civilized eaters surrounding you.
I will say that I find muffins that are cooled for at least 20 minutes release better from the wrapper. Very warm muffins haven’t had a chance to firm up, so the bread is softer and more prone to sticking to the wrapper. Not a big deal if you’re not hungry. It ticks me off when I am, though. So, while there’s no “proper” time to cool the muffins, I would suggest waiting about 20 minutes after they come out of the oven.
Do you plan to freeze your muffins? If so, you definitely want them to cool completely before bagging them. Warm muffins create steam, which turns into water droplets, which later freeze into ice. You end up with icy muffins that taste gross upon thawing.
What do I serve Spiced Pumpkin Muffins with?
See that copper thing in the right background? The thing with the black stuff in it?
That’s what you serve with these Spiced Pumpkin Muffins: Coffee.
What? That’s not “balanced” enough for you? Add cream to the coffee, then. Boom! You have your dairy component.
Nah, I’m kidding (not really). A cup of fruit or yogurt would make these muffins a complete breakfast. My husband says bacon, which I don’t disagree with, but throw a banana in there, at least.
How do I store the muffins?
Leftover muffins can be stored at room temperature for 2 days. Because these muffins are made with butter, refrigerating them makes them hard. Also, storing baked goods in the fridge causes them to go stale faster. Room temperature, in a storage bag or air-tight container, is just fine.
To get that fresh-baked taste, nuke them in the microwave for 10 seconds.
Can I freeze muffins?
You absolutely can freeze muffins! I actually encourage it. Cool the muffins completely and leave them in the wrappers. Once cool, transfer the muffins to a freezer storage bag and freeze for 2-3 months.
Thaw the muffins at room temperature, then reheat them in the microwave or in a warm oven. Eat the muffins within 2 days of thawing.
So! I’ve hit you with the first pumpkin recipe of the year. Bake these Spiced Pumpkin Muffins with Streusel Topping ASAP, then share this post with your friends. Don’t forget to pin the recipe to your baking boards, as well!
This post was originally published in 2016. I’ve updated it to include prettier pictures and streamlined instructions.
Spiced Pumpkin Muffins with Streusel Topping
- muffin tin
- 2 cups (255g) all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon (8g) ground cinnamon *see Notes on how to use Pumpkin Pie Spice
- 1 teaspoon (2g) ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon (1g) ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon (1g) ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 2 tsp (8g) baking powder
- 1/2 tsp (3g) baking soda
- 1/2 tsp (3g) kosher salt
- 1 cup (215g) light brown sugar packed
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- 1 15 ounce can (425g) pumpkin puree not pumpkin pie filling
- 2 tablespoons (28g) unsalted butter melted
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup (125g) Streusel Topping
- Preheat your oven to 375°F. Spray a muffin tin with non-stick baking spray, then line the cups with baking liners.
- Sift together the all-purpose flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, allspice, cardamom, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large mixing bowl. Set the dry ingredients aside.
- In a separate, larger bowl, use an electric mixer to whip together the brown sugar and eggs until very light brown in color and airy. Add the pumpkin puree, melted butter, and vanilla to the bowl and mix on low speed until well blended, or about 1 minute.
- Add half of the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and blend on low speed just until combined. Add the remaining dry ingredients before blending once again, just until the dry ingredients have been incorporated.
- Use a number 12 portion scoop or a measuring cup to fill each muffin tin 2/3rd of the way with the batter.
- Top each muffin with 1 tablespoon of streusel topping. Bake the muffins for 18-20 minutes, or until the top springs back when lightly pressed.
- Remove the muffins from the oven and allow them to cool in the pan for 5 minutes.After 5 minutes, remove the muffins from the pan to cool further, or enjoy them hot from the oven.
High Altitude Adjustment (I have not tested these adjustments):
- Decrease the baking powder to 1 teaspoon.
- Decrease the baking soda to 1/2 teaspoon.
- Transfer the cooled muffins to a food storage bag or container and keep at room temperature for up to 2 days.
- Reheat the muffins in the microwave for a freshly-baked taste.
- Transfer the cooled muffins to a food storage bag or container and freeze until solid. Freeze for 2-3 months.
- Thaw muffins on the countertop. Reheat in the microwave for a fresher flavor.