Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Golden Mean Pumpkin Muffins

Lately almost all the muffins I make begin with this recipe, which may well be the golden mean of muffin recipes. They just taste right, with the perfect balance of sweetness and oil, grain-y-ness and lightness. Total muffin harmony. (For the longest time I cooked steel-cut oats only because I needed “leftovers" to bake more and more of these muffins.) These days, I look at this treasured recipe, then add a little of this, a little of that, less of that, more of this, throw it in the oven, and really, WHO KNOWS what will happen? The truth is, secretly I always expect magic. But, to be honest — I *definitely* don’t always get it. When I do, though, it’s a beautiful thing.

Somehow, these golden-orange delights emerged from the oven just pumpkin-y enough, satisfyingly rich but not heavy, with sugar and cinnamon on top for that extra little something. I don’t want to overly question why they're so good, so perfectly proportioned. (Why? WHYYYYYY?) Sometimes you just get lucky. 


1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup oat flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon + 1 tsp for topping
½ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp cloves
½ tsp ginger
1/3 cup olive oil
2/3 cup light brown sugar + one tablespoon for topping
3 eggs
3/4 cups plain yogurt
1 1/3 cups pumpkin puree


1. Preheat the oven to 375°. Grease the muffin pan with olive oil. (I like to spray it on.)

2. In one bowl, sift together the flours, baking powder and baking soda, salt and spices, and set aside. In another, mix the pumpkin, olive oil, sugar, eggs, and yogurt.

3. Slowly stir the dry ingredients into the wet, mixing just until combined. (I often manage to overmix. I think it helps to use a wooden spoon? But also probably paying less attention to giggly toddlers and/or This American Life could be helpful, too. Or, whatever, mix it up, work that arm. They’ll still be delicious.)

4. Scoop into the muffin cups, and sprinkle the leftover cinnamon mixed with sugar on top. Bake 25-30 minutes. Eat them warm, preferably right away. They’re pretty perfect as is, though a touch of butter never hurt anyone.

Previously: Red Lentil and Sriracha Soup.

Natalie Eve Garrett is an artist who loves muffins. She also has an Etsy store.

50 Comments / Post A Comment

Lily Rowan

Question! I have some raw butternut squash I want to turn into "pumpkin" puree. Do I steam it? Boil it? Roast it?


@Lily Rowan Lots of right answers here! You can steam it, sure. Cut it into chunks and steam it for about 15 minutes. The skin will peel right off after you take the chunks out and let them cool for a few minutes.

You can roast them, too! This gives them a lot of flavor. Put some tin foil over a baking sheet, cut the squash into large chunks, drizzle with olive oil, then if you want, sprinkle some cinnamon, cayenne, and brown sugar over them. I've seen some recipes say to go crazy with the brown sugar. Pack a decent layer on top. I've done that and it works pretty good. Roast it at like 400° for about 30-40 minutes. It's done when it's golden-brown on top and it feels pretty mushy when you press a fork into it, about the consistency of a baked potato.

Don't boil it.


@Lily Rowan

Any of the above! You just want to get the vegetable soft so it purees easily. I tend to boil or steam things I intend to puree, but roasting would work too.

Beatrix Kiddo

@Lily Rowan I made "pumpkin" bread from a roasted kabocha squash recently. It definitely worked, but if you don't have a food processor to puree it, I think it might be easier to mush up if you steam the squash or something else to avoid the crisp edges. (Or maybe roast it whole and scoop out the innards later, but that would take ages.)


@Beatrix Kiddo Ditto - I've made pumpkin cheesecake with roasted kabocha. I cut the kaboch into thick wedges, coat in olive oil and sea salt and roast until soft. Mash by hand/spoon.

Lily Rowan

Thanks, all! If I were just going to eat it, I would definitely roast, but it seems like steaming is the right choice for not adding other flavors, so when I make these muffins or some cookies or whatever, it all works out.


@Lily Rowan A quick note about steaming: For some reason, when you steam pumpkin it leaves a sticky film of pumpkin juices I guess at the bottom of the pot and unless you get that pot into some soapy water within minutes of you finishing steaming, IT WILL NEVER COME OFF. So, keep that in mind.

Neve Garrett

@Lily Rowan Hey I think everything everyone said is perfect!, but one more thought: usually with steaming/boiling it works best to peel it first, in my experience? Which is kind of a pain. But if you just throw it in the oven for 45 minutes-ish you can scoop out the fleshy part from the peel afterwards and puree. And then the oven will be good and hot for MUFFINS!

Lily Rowan

@Emby Thanks for the tip!

@Natalie Eve This is actually already peeled (I was using the rest of the squash for something else), so that's no prob.

Lily Rowan

@Natalie Eve Also, MUFFINS!


@Natalie Eve You can do the same thing if you steam it! I use plastic kitchen tongs and it hold the peel down with a fork, and it scoops right off.

Neve Garrett

@Emby @Lily Rowan - Yum. Potluck?


that was inspirational@y


Oh. my. GOD. These look delicious.


I feel like this is the place to note that I recently developed a mysteriously appearing and disappearing rash that seems to be directly linked to gluten. (I went to the doctor, she told me to start charting my food consumption and paying attention to the chemicals used around the house, and it looks like there is a direct correlation between the itchy-welts and gluten consumption. Like: no gluten, the welts go away. Gluten, within 2-3 hours: welts.) Here I shall mourn publicly, while gazing up on these delicious-appearing muffins. So wheaty. So golden.@aphrabean I feel really really sad.


@aphrabean I feel really really sad.

Neve Garrett

@aphrabean Maybe try them with brown rice flour and oat flour (or x fave non-wheat flour?) If you want! They might rise a bit less but who cares. Yum it up!


@aphrabean There are gluten free baking mixes! I made scones and they were good. Also, I think some people use almond flour.


@Natalie Eve, @adorable-eggplant, I will try these things, for sure! I just started trying to bake with GF flours, and it's been a mixed bag. The pumpkin in these will probably help with the sandy texture you sometimes find with GF baked goods, I bet. Also. . . almond flour! This is intriguing.

Neve Garrett

@aphrabean I actually hardly ever use wheat flour, just because other grains are SO GOOD. I love almond meal too. I hope you try it & it's super delicious!


@Natalie Eve Haha ok, now I'm pumped instead of mopey. Thank you!

barefoot cuntessa

@aphrabean When I sub almond for other flours, I often add a bit more of the baking powder or whatever leavening agent is being used.

Also, BUCKWHEAT! It is nutty, delicious, and curiously not wheat!


@aphrabean This is me!!! Awful welts. Feels like bees in my face. I've been on the no-gluten train for a while, and done so much experimentation... and for baking substitution, the best I've found is King Arthur Gluten-Free Flour, but I also sometimes use quinoa flour. Good luck in your welt-reduction.


@aphrabean http://glutenfreegirl.com/ this is the bessssssst

fondue with cheddar

@aphrabean I was always skeptical of gluten-free baking because I'd never tried anything that was good. Then I went to this bakery in Philadelphia that is completely gluten-free, vegan, dairy-free, casein-free, egg-free, corn-free, peanut-free, soy-free, and refined-sugar-free. And I don't know how it is possible (probably magic) but everything there is DELICIOUS AND AMAZING. And now I am no longer skeptical of ____-free food. Because it's clear to me now that anything is possible. ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.


@fondue with cheddar Ok, so 1) I love food a LOT. 2) I love baking so much. So it is with these facts in mind that your comment actually made me tear up a little. There is hope!


@annah Thank you! I did a 3 week gluten-fast, and I was doing well, and then I rationalized a Thanksgiving gluten-FEST, and am regretting it sorely now. The welts are CRAZY.

Last night, I made the dough for this bread: http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/2010/01/05/gluten-free-crusty-boule and will bake it tonight. I'll report back if it's as delicious as they say!

fondue with cheddar

@aphrabean :')

I honestly have no idea how they make food at all because seriously...WHAT IS LEFT? And it's not like, "Hey, this stuff is pretty good for gluten-free," or whatever. It's just GOOD. I don't even have any of those issues and I would totally eat there again. If you ever find yourself in Philly, you MUST go there.

By the way, they list the ingredients on their menu page so you can look to that for ideas in addition to all the wonderful suggestions people have given already.


@aphrabean not sure if this will work out of context of my book's recipes, but i have an allergen free cookbook that uses brown rice flour, tapioca flour and potato starch (2:1:1 ratio roughly) with a tsp of xantham gum per 2 cups to take the place of gluten.


Is oat flour necessary? Alternatively, what else can you do with oat flour? (besides bake babillions of pumpkin muffins)

Neve Garrett

@hijabeng You can make booodseees with it, of course!

Neve Garrett

@Natalie Eve (Or you can make anything else with it.) (But no, it's not necessary, use whatever you have or love best!)


@Natalie Eve Oh dang. Indeed, I can make booodseees. This is encouraging me to maybe stick oats in these muffins instead of oat flour (I'm trying not to buy ingredients for just ONE THING ONLY).

barefoot cuntessa

@hijabeng You can make oat or any kind of nut flour by blending it in a food processor or Vita Mix. If you're super worried about texture, you can sift it before adding it to the mix. I can't imagine it would be necessary in a humble muffin, though.

With nuts, just be sure you stop when it becomes a flour consistency. Over blending results in nut butter.


You might be able to crush the oats in a food processor (or blender, in a pinch) to keep the texture finer. My mom always did that with the oats in oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, and they were smooth and chewy and exquisite.


Those 3 cans of pumpkin I just bought are going to be put to good use tomorrow night, methinks.

hahahaha, ja.

I originally took the title to mean that these pumpkin muffins are both golden and mean. They'll throw your lunchbox into a puddle while shimmering brightly.

fondue with cheddar

@hahahaha, ja. Maybe they're mean as in, "She bakes a mean muffin."

Firdous Wani

Ohh!! it's so delicious. You can add saffron as a flavor and crushed almonds to make more delicious.



I just made these! They turned out totally delicious.


FYI, the baking powder is missing from the ingredients list :/ I added 1 tsp and they seemed to come out just fine.


@sprayfaint I was wondering about the baking powder. I made them without any and they came out fine as well.


Yerm, I feel like muffins have stopped being cool. Luckily I am not cool.


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