Pumpkin Butter Breakfast Muffins

You’ve probably noticed that I have a thing for pumpkin. It’s one of my favorite flavors, and pumpkin muffins are a breakfast staple year-round. But fall is when they really come into their own.

I’ve been toying with my recipe for a few years now, and back in 2010 I finally hit on the answer to getting really pumped-up pumpkin flavor in baked goods – concentrating the pumpkin puree by cooking it down by half on the stove top. It’s a bit of work, but it was worth the effort, as my Super-Pumpkin Pumpkin Bread proved.

But as a busy working mom to a very active two year old boy, I don’t have a lot of time to babysit a pot of pumpkin puree these days. So after I perfected my version of Crockpot Pumpkin Butter, a light bulb went off in my head. Why don’t I combine the two!? And that is how Pumpkin Butter Breakfast Muffins came into the world.

1 1/2 cups of Crockpot Pumpkin Butter (or about a third of the total recipe)

1/2 cup butter

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 cup water

1. Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla until well combined.

2. Mix in the eggs and pumpkin butter until well combined.

3. Add all of the dry ingredients, as well as the water, and mix until all of the dry ingredients are incorporated and it’s fairly smooth.

This recipe will make either six jumbo muffins, twelve regular-sized muffins, or twenty four mini muffins. For breakfast muffins, I prefer the jumbo. They need to bake at 350 degrees for 25-35 minutes. The time will be a little less if you decide to do the regular-sized or mini muffins, so just watch carefully.

This recipe doubles easily, and if you make up a batch or two of pumpkin butter in advance, you can freeze it, allowing you to whip up muffins whenever you please.

And as always, a warm muffin with a little butter and a nice cup of tea is a breakfast treat fit for royalty. Enjoy!

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Super-Pumpkin Pumpkin Bread!

Alright, I am bestowing to you my special recipe for Super-Pumpkin Pumpkin Bread. I’ve been on a quest for the last several months to find a pumpkin bread recipe that was intensely pumpkin flavored. Most recipes use only half a can of pumpkin and rely on various spices for the flavor punch. But I don’t want a spice bread, I want a pumpkin bread. So I thought back to the ways I already know of to concentrate flavor – adding more and reducing. Adding more didn’t appeal to me since I didn’t want to alter the texture of the bread. Reducing, however, was an intriguing notion. From a usage standpoint, it was highly appealing as I could use the entire can of pumpkin in one recipe and not have the other half go to waste. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve opened a can of pumpkin for a recipe, used half and forgotten about the other half lurking in the back of the fridge. I really hate to waste food. And then the flavor improvement – that’s what I was really after. This recipe does take a little work in that you have to reduce the pumpkin puree before you can even begin to make the batter. But this little bit of work will be more than forgiven once you taste the bread. It screams pumpkin and it’s worth every bit of time in the kitchen to make it. My recipe is adapted from one in The Milk-Free Kitchen by Beth Kidder, which is just chock-full of superb recipes for dairy (and egg) free dishes – they’re so good you wouldn’t even know that they were dairy and/or egg free unless someone told you in the first place.

1 can of pumpkin puree

½  cup butter

1 cup sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon ground allspice

2 tablespoons molasses

2 eggs

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

¼ cup water 1

. First you’ll need to reduce the pumpkin puree. Put the entire can of pumpkin into a small saucepan over medium-low heat. You want to cook it down until it’s a dark orange color, slightly thicker, and reduced by half. This will take anywhere from 20-30 minutes. Give it a stir every few minutes or so to ensure it’s not sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning. Turn the heat down slightly if you find that it’s sticking to the bottom. Once the pumpkin is reduced, let it cool to room temperature while you assemble the rest of the batter.

2. Cream the butter and sugar together until the sugar is well combined with the butter and no longer grainy. Add the vanilla and spices and stir until well combined.

3. Mix in the eggs and molasses. If the pumpkin is cool enough, add the pumpkin. You do not want to add the pumpkin while it’s still hot to the batter as you don’t want to risk cooking the eggs – scrambled eggs in a baked good is not what you’re after. If you need to hasten the cooling of the pumpkin, put in the freezer for a few minutes.

4. Mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and add to the batter. Add the water and stir well to combine all of the ingredients.

5. For baking, I prefer to use four mini loaf pans, but you can also use one large loaf pan, a muffin tin (for twelve muffins) or two eight-inch cake pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-35 minutes, until a knife in the center comes out clean.

Let the bread cool for at least 15 minutes on a wire rack before slicing (it’s hard to wait, but the crumb will be better for it!). This bread has such a wonderful, concentrated flavor and moistness that no adornments are necessary, but if you must, spread a little salted butter on a slice. It’s perfect for breakfast, holiday desserts and gift gifting – so please do try it out this winter. You won’t go back to unconcentrated pumpkin bread again!

Pheasant Success!

Ah, Thanksgiving. I woke up early and baked my trio of breads right away – applesauce spice with apricot glaze, pumpkin and cranberry. The oven was on literally all day. Then I cracked fresh chestnuts for my chestnut bread stuffing, sauteed the mirepoix for it and got that pan into the oven.

While the oven was working full steam ahead, I had the husband fire up the Weber for this showpiece – the pheasant. We narrowly averted a wood chip disaster when we realized were out of the apple-chip cans. But I was able to throw together a packet with the apple shavings I normally use in the stove top smoker by putting an entire pint of them into a tin foil packet. Despite previous problems with this method, it actually worked this time, to our great relief.

While the pheasant was smoking out back, I made up a whole stockpot full of mashed potatoes (I love mashed potatoes), home made cranberry sauce and steamed broccoli. I also put together a few a few appetizer platters – proscuitto and smoked salmon with dilled mustard and a veggies – marinated mushrooms, gerkins, pickled asparagus, soy mozzarella and triscuits (for some reason, we have a box in the panty). After all that, I slid the ham into the oven and set the table.

I had a linen tablecloth down with two glittered pumpkins and a beeswax taper in a silver candleholder for the centerpiece. We used my blue willow dishware, as always. It was simple, yet nice. Jeremy’s grandpa came over for dinner and we all had a great time talking – we love hearing stories of the family and his life.

And when we sat down to dinner, the pheasant. Oh, the pheasant! The color was the deepest chestnut brown, with a crispy skin, and the meat was tender – even silky and very moist. It was gamey, but not too much so, and was redolent with apple flavor. It’s the best poultry I’ve ever eaten. I’m not sure I can go back to turkey after pheasant.

Oh, and you want to know the secret to extra pumpkiny pumpkin bread that will make you happy forever? Cook down a can of pumpkin until it’s reduced by half before adding it to your batter/dough. Concentrate the flavor. I’ll have the miracle pumpkin bread recipe itself posted soon so you can try it out.

So all in all, Thanksgiving was a great success. And we’ve got a nice pile of leftovers, so the cooking fun continues with creative leftover recipes. Happy Holidays everyone!