Living the Pumpkin Dream!!
Oh how I do love the humble garden pumpkin! Gorgeous rich orange, easy to cook & so versatile! Pumpkins have that kind of adaptable nature that makes them a great ingredient in both sweet & savoury dishes. Also, the little ones in the family love it – so I know I can use it & not have screwed up little faces at the dining table (well … sometimes anyway)!
We had a small harvest of Kent Pumpkins in our little organic home garden earlier this year – I love watching them take shape & from the gorgeous yellow-orange flower, right through to ripening, they are just such fun! Kent is my favourite variety too as the skin is easy to cut & can be cooked into most dishes like soups & roasts. Leaving the skin on where I can is preferrable because of the added nutritional value & well … it’s yum!
I was down to the last of our crop – having exhausted it making soup, mash & roasts, pretty standard fair in our house. I decided I wanted to do something a little more indulgent & special with the last one – & if you have been following me on this bloggy journey you will know, for me that means something sweet!
Being Winter & oh so cold in this part of the world at the moment, I wanted to make something that felt warming & satisfying, that would linger on the taste buds, with just a little bit of crunch & a splash of citrus to really get your mouth zinging.
While I was fossicking through the pantry looking for just the right combination of flavours, I decided I would make some muffins, as my children are big fans of them & will scoff them down before even considering what might be in them! A bonus with in any parent’s world of fussy eaters I think!!
Using pumpkin in a recipe like that is awesome too, because of ability to soak up lots of flavour. Add the moisture content they have, you can cut down on the amount of buttermilk or oil – & well, it makes them just a tad bit healthy too, but please don’t tell my kidlets that, ok!?! 😉
I pulled out my favourite spices, spotted some poppy seeds in there as well & the rest came together pretty easily. Luckily, out on the tree were a few die hard lemons fighting against the bitter Winter frosts, so it made sense to save them from an icy fate & use them for one of the best frosting recipes, EVER! Cream cheese & lemon – ahhhh … yes please!!
These muffins are lovely, soft & fluffy on the inside, moist from the pumpkin & with just a little bitey-ness from the spices & black pepper makes them taste warm & hearty & oh, so divine! Yes, you heard me correctly … I did say pepper! Strange addition to a sweet muffin recipe I know, but I’m telling you, it.just.works!
Once you add the rich, sticky, finger-licking-good lemon cream cheese frosting, these are one of the best Winter time treats I have ever tasted!!
If you don’t have pumpkin-love already, you definitely will after tasting these!
Ok, here’s how it goes …
- 125gm unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar - (I used Rapadura)
- 1/4 cup caster sugar
- 2 cups plain flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- Small pinch sea salt
- 3 or 4 twists freshly ground black pepper
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup buttermilk - (see Tips / Suggestions for making your own buttermilk if you have none on hand like me!)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract / essence
- 1 1/4 cups cooked pumpkin
- 1/3 cup poppy seeds
- 250gm Light Philidelphia cream cheese
- 50gm unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 1/3 cups icing sugar
- Up to 1/2 lemon - juice & zest - depends on how much you like lemon!
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract / essence
- Preheat the oven to 200°C.
- Remove skin and chop the pumpkin into large chunks.
- Place the pumpkin on a large sheet of foil in a single layer & wrap.
- Cook the pumpkin for about 30 minutes, or until soft & easy to mash.
- Allow to cool completely.
- Preheat oven to 190°C.
- Lightly grease or line a standard 1 cup, 12 muffin tin with patty pans.
- Cream the butter and sugars on medium speed until light & fluffy - at least 5 minutes, scraping down the sides occasionally.
- In a medium bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, salt, and pepper.
- Mix vanilla extract & buttermilk.
- Add eggs 1 at a time to the mixer, scraping down the sides after each addition.
- Add the flour and milk mixtures alternating each, starting & ending with flour mix - it's important to help keep them light & fluffy.
- Beat in the pumpkin until smooth.
- Fold in the poppy seeds
- Using an ice cream scoop or two dessert spoons, scoop the batter into patty pans - about 3/4 full.
- Gently tap the tray on the counter to release any air bubbles.
- Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or until skewer comes out clean.
- Leave muffins in the tin for about 5 minutes, then transfer to cooling rack to cool completely.
- Finally the frosting;
- Beat the cream cheese, butter, lemon juice, zest & vanilla on medium well combined.
- Using a piping bag, or flat bladed icing knife (I can't pipe very well, so use knife), spread the frosting generously over the top of muffin.
- These muffins will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days - ours are usually gone in about 3!! 🙂
- Tips / Suggestions - If you don't keep Buttermilk in the house - like me - all you need to do is add a tablespoon of lemon juice to for every cup of milk & let it sit for about 10 minutes to curdle. Voila - homemade buttermilk!
I hope you enjoy these as much as we do!
Do you have a favourite pumpkin recipe? I would love to hear about it!
Cook! Eat! Enjoy!