Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Start of Fall and Pumpkin Muffins

First Puffins of the season.
Fall hasn’t officially started yet, and it  only recently got under 90 degrees for a high.  But it’s September and that’s essentially when fall starts in my mind.  When I was a kid my favorite season was summer. With the tomatoes, my birthday and swinging in the hammock, summer was the best.  As much as I loved summer I was ready for fall because that meant school started!  Yes, I know I was (am) a huge dork because I looked forward to the new school year.  Hear me out though, fall meant new sweaters and shoes!  I got to color coordinate new notebooks and folders according to subject!  What could be better than that?
I could use a bigger knife.
Pumpkins.  I don’t have school to look forward to now, so my fall enjoyment has been transferred to pumpkins.  And I have to admit, pumpkins are better than new shoes, matching notebooks and folders, and dare I say it... Trapper-keepers.  I love pumpkin in everything.  Pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, toasted pumpkin seeds, heck, even pumpkin wedding cake.  Most of all I love the blending of muffins and pumpkin, fondly known as Puffins.

Andy and I are trying out Car Free Sundays, and last Sunday we moseyed over to the Nashville Farmer’s Market for lunch with a friend and to pick up some probably-not-locally-grown produce. There we saw a bounty of pumpkins; giant ones, jack-o-lanerns and pie pumpkins for a steal.  Since we were travelling by bicycle a small pie pumpkin was more a more realistic option to bring home.  My first pumpkin of the season!  Oh life is good.

I like to roast pumpkins.  The flavor isn’t much better than canned, it’s definitely not easier, and it takes longer.  But when you buy canned you don’t get pumpkin seeds!  Yes, you can also buy toasted pumpkin seeds, but they’re not nearly as exciting as toasting your own and adding exciting and fun flavors yourself.  Plus, this blog is called Antique Modernism, so there needs to be some antique methods used.  Roasting pumpkins is easy if you have the right equipment and pumpkin.  Roasting pumpkins is a pain the behind if you have a $12 blender and you cut your pumpkin into tiny pieces.  Also, be sure to get pie pumpkins and not just any old jack-o-lantern, pie pumpkins are meatier and meant for food.  Jack-o-lanterns are grown for size and ease of carving and are watery/flavorless.  
The pie pumpkin is small and my chunks look like happy pumpkin smiles!
First things first, roasting pumpkin.  Wash the pumpkin and then take your biggest knife and split the pumpkin in half.  Some people leave it there and roast the pumpkin halves (and I might try that next time), I cut my pumpkin into eighths to make it easier to scrape out the flesh later.  Place your pumpkin bits on a baking sheet (face down or not) and roast for about an hour in a 350 degree oven.  Adding just enough water to fill the bottom of the pan about a quarter inch will help soften your pumpkin and cause it to not stick.
Pumpkin smile done and happy to be delightfully roasted.
I believe the black tips came from the little fireball (see below).
I heard somewhere (that should be a giveaway statement for a bad idea) that you can flavor that water with a little whiskey for some nummy puree.  Since I like my whiskey, I saved that for drinking and used the ¼ bottle of Southern Comfort I received from my Grandpa.  Since it seemed like there was enough liquid with just the SoCo I didn’t add any water.  A little while after popping the pumpkin pieces into the oven I heard a whoosh and saw a little fireball in oven.  It might be better to add some water to your flavoring alcohol when roasting pumpkins.  Your pumpkin is done the flesh can be pierced easily with a knife.  Then scrape out the flesh and puree it in a blender or food processor.
Before puree.
If you have a crappy blender that you bought for cheap, buy canned pumpkin.

Once you have delicious pumpkin puree you can start your fall off to a great start by making Puffins (not the bird or the cereal, but a delightful baked good).

Fresh puffins cooling off before being devoured.

Pumpkin Muffins
Adapted from 500 Best Muffin Recipes, Esther Brody

2 cups whole wheat flour (you can use 1 cup all-purpose and 1 cup wheat if you don’t have vital gluten)
2 tsp vital gluten
½ cup lightly packed brown sugar
¼ cup chopped candied ginger (if you have some leftover from making Sticky Toffee Pudding)
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tbsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
1 egg
½ to ¾ cup milk (you might need to add more milk after mixing, depending on how much liquid is in your puree)
1 cup pumpkin puree
¼ cup oil
½ tsp vani

How To
  • In a large bowl combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Make a well in the center.
  • In a smaller bowl whisk up the egg, then add milk, pumpkin, oil and vanilla.  Add to dry ingredients and carefully stir until just moist.
  • Spoon batter into prepared muffin tin (greased or lined), this should only make 12 so you can just fill all cups equally (unless you’re not into equality).  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, turning the pan ½ way through.

Enjoy your muffins right away or wrap them in plastic wrap and tinfoil and freeze for delayed gratification!  Next recipe: how to toast pumpkin seeds.

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