Back in the day, I worked at a bakery/coffeeshop (OK, it was only less than a year ago, but it feels like forever). I worked the 5 a.m. to 2 p.m. shift, prepping the front of the store in the wee hours of the morning, getting all the coffees ready (regular, dark roast, flavor, vanilla on Mondays for Bill and decaf, all lined in a row), the sugar shakers full of sugar and the tables straight and tidy. I also got to put fresh bakery items in the case each day, still warm from the oven. At the bakery, we had everything from big, frosted cookies and puff twists to apple and cherry turnovers and my favorite — muffins.
These were no ordinary muffins. These muffins were gigantic. These muffins could eat regular-sized muffins for breakfast. And they were delicious. In fact, I’d grown up eating these very muffins — my favorite was the discontinued raspberry ice muffin — and they are still quite famous in my hometown. There were more than two dozen varieties in the case each day, with flavors like blueberry, cranberry nut, Oreo, M&M, Sunshine, amaretto, Dutch apple and lemon ice. But sometimes, customers would come into the store, take one look at the freshly baked muffins and say something silly like, “Those muffins are too big.”
The nerve. There is no such thing as too big a muffin.
Though I don’t work at said bakery anymore, and I don’t have one of those oversize muffin tins, when I do bake muffins like these pumpkin pecan muffins, I like to fill the cups all the way so the muffin bakes over the top and takes on that lovely mushroom shape. To me, those are the best kind (after all, everyone knows the best part of the muffin is the top. 30 Rock, anyone?). Combined with a warm cup of tea on a cool autumn day, these pumpkin pecan muffins are phenomenally delicious. Though those bakery muffins could still eat these muffins for breakfast.
Debrief: I adapted this recipe from a quick pumpkin bread recipe in “The Joy of Cooking.” The transfer worked out just fine, though I was left with about one or two muffins’ worth of batter. I couldn’t tell you how to lower the measurements for the batter in order to eradicate the extras, so if you’re OK with throwing it away, no changes are necessary. If not, best of luck to you and your fancy math skills that I don’t have.
Pumpkin Pecan Muffins Adapted from The Joy of Cooking
Yields 12 overflowing muffins
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour 1/4 tsp double-acting baking powder 1 tsp baking soda 1 tsp salt 1/2 tsp cinnamon 1/4 tsp ground cloves 1 1/3 cups sugar 1/3 cup soft shortening 2 eggs 1 cup cooked or canned pumpkin 1/3 cup water or milk 1/2 cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine sugar, shortening and eggs until light and fluffy. Add and beat in pumpkin. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and ground cloves. Add sifted mixture to the stand mixer in 3 additions alternately with the milk. Fold in pecans using a wooden spoon or spatula. Pour batter into muffin tins until it just reaches the tops of the cups. Bake about 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of one of the muffins comes out clean. Allow to cool 10 minutes before removing muffins from the tin, transferring them to a wire rack to cool for 10 or so more minutes. Serve warm.
Extra punches: As mentioned above, this is adapted from a quick pumpkin bread recipe. If you want to make this into a bread rather than muffins, just pour the batter into a greased 9 x 5-inch loaf pan and bake for an hour.