Healthy Pumpkin Muffins | foodsciencenerd.comm

Healthy Pumpkin Muffins

Posted on Posted in Culinary Science, Nutrition Information, Recipes

A while ago, I was tasked with bringing snacks to a morning meeting at work.  I knew that this meeting would be very female-packed, right at peak fall excitement levels.  Naturally, pumpkin baked goods would go over very well with this group.  However, this was a meeting full of nutrition experts, so just any pumpkin muffins would not do.  Only healthy baked goods would be truly successful.  So, I set out to find a recipe that would satisfy this discerning crowd (while not taking all night… I am a busy grad student after all!), but nothing quite fit.  So I went off-book and made up my own recipe:

IMG_0448
That’s my new electric kettle in the back- it’s awesome and it was only $30!!

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¼ c whole wheat pastry flour (Why?  Pastry flour has less protein than regular flour and is often ground finer.  Less protein = less gluten = less chewy; finer grind = less dense); white whole wheat flour will do in a pinch
  • ½ c AP flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 T cinnamon (or more if you dare!)
  • ½ T ginger (powdered or fresh grated)
  • ½ T pumpkin spice mix (or other fallish spices like nutmeg, clove, all spice, or orange peel)
  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ c white sugar
  • ½ c dark brown sugar
  • ½ of a 15 oz can pumpkin puree
  • ½ c canola oil
  • ½ T vanilla extract
  • ¼ c apple cider
  • ½ c dried cranberries (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F and spray a 12-cup muffin pan with baking spray.
  2. Whisk together both flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices in a large bowl.IMG_0449
  3. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugars until the eggs are smooth and lighter yellow. Add the pumpkin, oil, vanilla, and cider and whisk until smooth.
    IMG_0451
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry (and the cranberries if desired) and gently stir with a spatula to mix, being careful not to over-mix (mixing = gluten = bad)- a few lumps are better than tough muffins!IMG_0452
  5. Spoon the mixture evenly into 12 muffin cups (about ¾ full) and bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.Healthy Pumpkin Muffins | foodsciencenerd.com
  6. Let cool and remove from the pan.

Healthy Pumpkin Muffins | foodsciencenerd.comm

The verdict?  These were the most popular thing to ever make an appearance in the lab.  All 12 muffins were gone by lunch (and there’s only 6 of us in the lab…).  These are perfect for breakfast with those guests that are visiting for the holidays!

**Update: I made these for another lab meeting today as per my coworkers’ requests.  This time, I forgot to preheat the oven, so I let the muffins sit, unbaked, for about 15 minutes while the oven preheated.  I was concerned that this may harm the muffins in two ways- 1) it may increase the gluten formation as the flour hydrates further, 2) any air bubbles incorporated into the batter during mixing would escape; both of these would cause the muffins to be dense and possibly tough.  Anyway, I tested a muffin after they cooled to see if they were ok, and this is what I got:

Perfect tiny, even air pockets and a lovely, soft gluten matrix.
Perfect tiny, even air pockets and a lovely, soft gluten matrix.

The muffins were light and fluffy, with a very tender crumb and perfectly soft mouthfeel.  You’d never guess they were whole wheat.  They also got a lovely crunchy crust on top.  I did some research, and it turns out this is to be expected.  The resting period does hydrate the starch in the flour more, but that’s a good thing in the case of whole wheat flour, which requires more hydration than AP flour, creating a thicker, softer mouthfeel.  In addition, whatever gluten did form during mixing actually has a chance to relax, creating small, even bubbles, rather than large structured bubbles (think baguette). Look at that- food science works!

Healthy Pumpkin Muffins

Healthy Pumpkin Muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 ¼ cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • ½ cup AP flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon (or more if you dare!)
  • ½ Tbsp ginger
  • ½ Tbsp pumpkin spice mix (or other fallish spices like nutmeg, clove, all spice, or orange peel)
  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • ½ of a 15 oz can pumpkin puree
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • ½ Tbsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup apple cider
  • ½ cup dried cranberries (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F and spray a 12-cup muffin pan with baking spray.
  2. Whisk together both flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices in a large bowl.
  3. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugars until the eggs are smooth and lighter yellow. Add the pumpkin, oil, vanilla, and cider and whisk until smooth.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry (and the cranberries if desired) and gently stir with a spatula to mix, being careful not to over-mix.
  5. Spoon the mixture evenly into 12 muffin cups (about ¾ full) and bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
  6. Let cool and remove from the pan.
http://www.foodsciencenerd.com/healthy-pumpkin-muffins/

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