I just love pumpkin! You can prepare it in so many ways! You can roast, bake, steam or boil it; and it can be incorporated into many a fine dish: roasts, pastas, soups, stews, dips, salads, smoothies, pies and desserts. Oh, I could go on and on….my mouth waters just thinking about the pumpkin ravioli I had in Positano, or pumpkin tempura….slap…slap…back to gluten free reality. Actually I do have an exceptional recipe for gluten free pumpkin ravioli using egg wonton wrappers. But that is another post. Oh too many pumpkin recipes…not enough recipe blogs. But back to my rave about pumpkin. The good old reliable pumpkin always brings something to the table, with its natural sweetness, rich color and depth of flavour. Whether it is in a supporting role, or a star attraction, this trusty seeded friend is never overshadowed. In my opinion, it is one of the most grossly underutilized foods in the standard American diet.
To me, pumpkin is like chocolate. I can’t get enough, and the richer the better. I prefer Japanese pumpkin with its gorgeous deep orange colour, roasted with a touch of olive oil, garlic and rosemary. Roasted pumpkin would add a beautiful depth of flavor to these muffins, but it is not necessary. If you want to whip up these pumpkins muffins quickly, you can just steam your pumpkin and mash it. For those of you in the United States, the majority of fresh pumpkins available are used for jack-o-lanterns, and are normally too stringy and not very tasty. You can get sugar pumpkins which are quite good. But I would suggest using a can of plain organic mashed pumpkin like Trader Joe’s or Libby’s, which works a treat as well. Just don’t get your standard pumpkin pie canned mixes that I fear have a lot of additives that don’t belong at this muffin merger.
I adapted the recipe from my childhood. In the 70’s, right after my parents were married, they hosted a gorgeous exchange student named Debbie. About 6 years later we flew over to meet Debbie and her family in San Bernardino CA. I still remember staying on the Queen Mary waiting for her parents to arrive. Ray and Bev picked us up and I don’t think there was a lull in the conversation the whole way home. It was that year that Ray helped Kara (my sister) and I carve out our first Halloween jack-o-lantern, and we ate our first, but certainly not our last, piece of home-made American pumpkin pie. They couldn’t believe we ate pumpkin with meat and potatoes! We couldn’t believe they didn’t! Mum and Bev started swapping pumpkin recipes at the kitchen table over our candlelit jack-o-lantern. It was love. They were still dictating instructions to each other a week later.
These pumpkin muffins were one of the fruits of their labour that came to be affectionately known as "Bev’s Pumpkin Muffins." My mum still has her original pumpkin muffin recipe scrawled on the back of a receipt. We had to photocopy it some years back to preserve it. Oh, the tyranny of life before email and the internet! But flicking through my mum’s recipe file, with all of her handwritten notes and scraps of paper she has collected from all over the world, appeals to the romantic in me. But I digress. Back to the muffins…..
My mum spent much of the 80’s serving these pumpkin muffins at every function we had. The novelty (which wasn’t such a novelty after the 600th muffin) wore off and this pumpkin muffin recipe found its way into the depths of a storage box for most of the 90’s, along with a lot of other family favourites when we moved to Singapore. Luckily, after much moaning on my part as to “where Bev’s pumpkin muffin recipe was”, mum found it just in time to include it in her fabulous Christmas gift to us girls -- her home-made “Family Favourites” Recipe Book. Now mum, if you could just find the recipe for the Country Corn Bake you picked up in Savannah that would be great! But I digress again….the muffins….
These pumpkin muffins have enjoyed a successful comeback, and a long return season. They might even be playing in a kitchen near you longer than The Phantom Of The Opera in The West End. In a previous 80’s life these pumpkin muffins had bigger hair and more frills. This latest gluten free dairy free incantation is simple, tasty, and thanks to the beloved pumpkin, really moist. These quick, easy muffins can be prepared in less than 10 minutes, and then baked for 15 minutes. You can be breaking bread with your loved ones over candle light, and sharing your love of “all things pumpkin” in under half an hour.