Thursday, October 11, 2007

pumpkin muffins

A couple of weeks ago I bought a "cheese pumpkin" from the Bluebird Organic Farm stand at the East Liberty Market. My daughter was sure it was not a pumpkin because it is not orange on the outside. It is tan. Also, it is not cheese because it was "too dirty." But, on the inside, it is all pumpkin. Today we (above-mentioned daughter and I) turned that hefty autumn vegetable (fruit?) into pumpkin muffins. I have never before cooked with an actual pumpkin (as opposed to a can of pumpkin) so I was pretty pleased with myself. Especially when above-mentioned daughter chomped away at the toasted seeds murmuring "mmm-mmm" (you don't get those with a can of pumpkin!).

First I cut the pumpkin into 1 inch chunks after trying to scrape off/ pull out many of the seeds. I then steamed the chunks for about 20 minutes (until they seemed quite soft). After that, I scraped off the stringy pulp and put the rest (including the skin) into the food mill. I milled out about 2 1/2 cups of pureed pumpkin. If I were doing this again, I would try to remove all the pulp before steaming because doing so afterwards was tedious and finger burning with the recently-steamed pieces.

I used a recipe from the book Simply in Season which included many non-local ingredients like white and brown sugar, oil and white flour. (Not to mentioned the spices, but I'm going to continue using those anyway). Above-mentioned daughter gobbled up her muffin right away and her equally picky younger brother ate two! I didn't even have to put chocolate chips in them. What a revelation.

Now, if I can figure out how to make them with honey, whole wheat pastry flour and butter, I will give you the recipe. I haven't found any online, but there is no way to search everything out there. I have also read some guidelines about those subsititions. In general, subsituting honey for sugar, people advise to reduce amount (honey is sweeter than sugar), reduce amount of liquid in the recipe (or can you increase dry goods?), increase baking soda by 1/4 tsp. (to balance honey's acidity), and reduce cooking temperature by 25 degrees. I have found no such rules for switching out butter for oil, or whole wheat flour for white flour. I'll let you know what I find out. I'm sure you are all waiting with baited breath.


Angela said...

For the flour substitution, I usually use 7/8 cup whole wheat flour for every 1 cup white flour in the recipe. Usually works fine. Just know that whole wheat flours typically produce less gluten than their white flour counterparts so if you are making a risen bread, you might want to add a little gluten powder. You wouldn't need it for this recipe, but you would for a yeast bread.

You can substitue butter for oil one to one. Just melt the butter and you're good to go.

Lori F. said...

I love your blog! I am a like-minded mom living in Washington County, PA. I linked here from the P-G Eat Local blog. I have a great pumpkin and apple cider muffin recipe that I love and will provide it if you would like. It does still have sugar but some is replaced with reduced apple cider.
I successfully replace at least some white flour in most recipes with whole wheat flour I grind myself. I get my wheat berries from Frankferd Farms.

Cindy Green said...

I would love the recipe. How exactly do you grind wheat berries? Does FF grow them? I heard from someone who works there that she "thinks he grows soft winter wheat." Do you buy other things from them? Directly? What? Please share.

Lori F. said...

Pumpkin Cider Bread from Gourmet magazine October 1991

1 cup apple cider
1 cup canned pumpkin purée
2 large eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil (could sub. melted butter)
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons freshly grated orange zest
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground mace (or nutmeg)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (can leave these out if you like)
Preparation In a saucepan boil the cider until it is reduced to about 1/4 cup and let it cool. In a bowl whisk together well the pumpkin purée, the eggs, the oil, the brown sugar, the zest, and the reduced cider. Into the bowl sift together the flour, the baking powder, the salt, the baking soda, the mace, the cinnamon, and the cloves, add the walnuts, and stir the batter until it is just combined. Transfer the batter to a well-buttered 8 1/2-by 4 1/2-inch loaf pan and bake the bread in the middle of a preheated 350°F. oven for 1 hour, or until a tester comes out clean. Let the bread cool in the pan.

I make this as muffins, baking them approx. 20-25 mins. and test with a toothpick to see if they are done.

As for the wheat berries, a few years ago I purchased a Whisper Mill, which is an electric grain mill that can grind any kind of grain. I love to bake yeast breads and I was intrigued by grinding my own grain and baking with it within minutes of grinding. The taste of the wheat is so much more sweet and mellow with freshly ground wheat.
In an recipe such as the one above, I use a 3-2 ratio of freshly ground Bronze Chief hard white wheat and soft winter wheat to replace half of the all purpose flour. The combination of hard and soft wheats gives a close approximation to all purpose flour although you can also use all soft wheat in a quick bread recipe if you like. Soft wheat is much lower in protein and when ground is often labeled as whole grain pastry flour.

I buy tons of stuff from Frankferd Farms; grains and seeds, yogurt, organic products and some organic convenience foods. They are such a great local company. There is a delivery site, a small co-op group, near my home.

I have never made my own pumpkin puree, but I can highly recommend a brand called Farmer's Market brand organic pumpkin available at Whole Foods or some Giant Eagle locations. My husband prefers my pumpkin pies made with this pumpkin over his own mother's pies!

Cindy Green said...

Thanks, Lori. You're the one who should have a blog! I made pumpkin puree again today. It's no big deal and that way we get to eat locally and my daughter eats something healthy -- pumpkin seeds. This time I scooped out seeds and pulp as if making a jack o' lantern. Then I cut the rind into chunks, steamed it for about 25 minutes, put it through the food mill. Easy, easy. So, I made your pumpkin muffin recipe and it tastes fantastic! I used half white flour, 1/2 local whole wheat (1 cup each). I substituted in 1/4 cup of honey for the brown sugar and used melted amish butter instead of oil. So far the grown ups give them two thumbs up. We'll see in the morning what the kids think.