A muffin recipe has to be really good to get my endorsement. When it comes to baked goods, I have an exacting palate, and I am very particular about my muffins. Too many so-called muffins out there are just cupcakes in disguise – sweet and spongey and not the way I’d like to start my morning. Puh-lease! Slap some frosting on it and let the poor thing out of the closet. Don’t force it to conform to muffinhood when it wants to be cake! Muffins should be dense and moist, and at least taste as if they have some redeeming nutritional value. They are, after all, a breakfast food, and breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
My husband has a coworker who is quite a good baker herself, and she passed along a Pumpkin Muffin recipe that she liked. Her notes indicated that she decreased the amount of white sugar a little bit because she doesn’t like sweet muffins (smart woman!). The original recipe takes half a cup of brown sugar and a whole cup of white. Holy Moley! Even if it wasn’t a cakey sort of muffin, it was going to be very sweet. But I was itching to bake something the other morning, and the recipe caught my eye. I was pretty sure I could tinker with it enough to up the nutrients and decrease the sweetness. I also wanted to try baking with the almond meal I’d bought at Trader Joe’s, and this recipe seemed like it might be a good match. So tinker I did. I swapped some of the canola oil for flax seed meal and a bit of yogurt. I replaced some of the all-purpose flour with almond meal, and I got rid of the white sugar altogether.
The results: So good that I’ve made them twice in the span of two weeks! They rise quite a bit with baking, but they don’t get fluffy and cakey. They stay moist for several days, which may be attributable to the almond meal in place of some of the flour.
The original recipe says it makes 14 muffins. Come on, now! Who has a muffin pan with 14 cups? Who wants to break out a second muffin pan for the two extra muffins? That’s just awkward. But these rose nicely without spreading, so my advice is to just split the batter between the cups of a regular muffin tin. If you are making mini-muffins, as I did this second time round, you may find that even if you fill the cups to the brim, you have enough leftover batter for one regular-size muffin.
Healthy Pumpkin Spice Muffins
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup flax seed meal
1/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup almond meal
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
Preheat oven to 350F and grease muffin tins.
Combine pumpkin, eggs, water, oil and flax seed meal in a large bowl. Whisk to combine well.
Sift together remaining ingredients in another bowl. Add to pumpking mixture and stir to combine. Do not overmix.
Divide batter among prepared muffin tins. Fill tins to just the top.
Bake 25 to 30 minutes for regular muffins, 18-22 minutes for mini-muffins, or until set. Remove from tins immediately and cool on wire racks.