Pumpkin Spice Muffins

In a desperate attempt to recreate the Autumn Spice muffins from Tim Horton’s, I have come up with this recipe.  I know the best part of the Tim’s muffin is the sweet cream cheese filling…I haven’t quite figured out how to make that happen without the filling melting into the muffins as they bake and becoming a nasty, soggy centre.  I’ll keep trying, though.  I’m no quitter!  In the mean time, this is a pretty darn good pumpkin muffin.

Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree (canned or homemade*)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups spelt or whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 baking soda
  • 1 tsp  salt
  • [optional] pumpkin seeds, to garnish
  • [optional] coarse sugar, to garnish

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 375F and grease muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray or line with paper baking cups.
  2. In a mixing bowl, beat together the eggs, oil and sugar.
  3. Add the pumpkin, molasses and vanilla.  Stir until just combined.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add dry ingredients to wet and mix until combined.
  5. If desired, top muffins with a few pumpkin seeds and a sprinkling of coarse sugar.
  6. Bake for 22-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in centre of a muffin comes out clean.

Yield: 14 large muffins.

*To make your own pumpkin puree: Preheat oven to 350F. Remove stem, cut pumpkin in half and scoop out seeds and pulp. Place pumpkin, flesh side down, on an oiled baking sheet. Bake for one hour. Let roasted pumpkin cool completely before spooning out flesh and pureeing in a blender. Pumpkin puree can be stored in the freezer for several months. I like to divide it into one-cup portions and store it in freezer bags.

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Apple Streusel Muffins

When I was a kid, apple picking was one of my favourite school field trips. I remember jumping off the yellow school bus, wearing an ill-fitting, bright-coloured pinny so everyone knew which group we were with, and running into the orchard, trees laden with bright red apples. You were allowed to fill up your bag and eat as many apples as you liked while you were there. McIntosh were my favourite, until I overdid it one year. Nothing tastes better than a sweet, crisp, just-picked apple — until you eat 6 or 7 in a row. It was not a pleasant bus ride back.

I got a crash course in apples a few years back, when I was working as a journalist for the Canadian Broadcasting Corportaion (CBC). It was a slow news day and my producer, Nathalie, sent me to a nearby apple orchard to do live reports for Homerun, the CBC Radio afternoon show in Montreal (88.5FM — a shameless plug for my CBC friends, who are awesome!) While there, I learned that McIntosh apples are not the best apples to bake with because they tend to break down pretty quickly when cooked — which makes them perfect for applesauce. Cortland apples, on the other hand, are a great apple to bake with because they do not brown when they’re cut and hold their shape really well. The Lobo variety is also great for cooking and baking. I almost always use Cortland and Lobo apples when I bake because they are a little tart and really hold up well in recipes.

This apple muffin is moist and flavoured with all the traditional autumn spices — cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. But, the best part of this muffin is the streusel topping. Don’t skip it — it’s crunchy and delicious!

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 6 apples, peeled and grated  (about 2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup sour cream or plain Greek yoghurt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cloves

For the topping:

  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cups oats
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp flax seeds (optional)

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F and line a muffin tin with paper baking cups.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, butter, sour cream, vanilla and brown sugar. Stir in the grated apples. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, stir together all the dry ingredients.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until just combined.
  5. Spoon the batter into the paper-lined muffin tin.
  6. For the topping: In a small bowl, stir together all the topping ingredients. Sprinkle the topping over the muffins.
  7. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of a muffin comes out clean.

*Yield: 12 large muffins


Banana Muffins

I don’t know about you guys, but the struggle for me to get my kids to eat anything but toast with Nutella or sugary cereals for breakfast is very real. I’ve tried to be that perfect mom who makes stacks of pancakes and scrambled eggs, but the challenge to figure out what to put in their lunch boxes five days a week usually trumps breakfast. These banana muffins are a cross between a moist banana bread and coffee cake. They’re loaded with ripe bananas and chocolate chips and sprinkled with a delicious, crunchy streusel topping. My kids never complain when banana muffins are for breakfast! Plus, these muffins freeze extremely well and will keep for up to three months in the freezer.

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 6 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup Greek yoghurt or sour cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose or whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

For the topping:

  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cups oats
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F and line a muffin tin with paper baking cups.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, bananas, butter, yoghurt and vanilla. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, stir together all the dry ingredients.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until just combined.
  5. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  6. Spoon the batter into the paper-lined muffin tin.
  7. For the topping: In a small bowl, stir together all the topping ingredients. Sprinkle the topping over the muffins.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of a muffin comes out clean.

*Yield: 18 large muffins.


Zucchini & Carrot Muffins

Here’s another delicious way to use up all those zucchini growing in your gardens this summer.  This hearty breakfast muffin is packed with grated zucchini, carrots and lots of chopped pecans for added texture. I like to use olive oil in this recipe because it adds a rich, fruity flavour — but you can easily substitute any other vegetable oil. What I also love about this recipe is that these muffins bake up with a nice, crusty top. This is also a muffin that freezes very well, so perfect for school day breakfasts (which, let’s face it, are just around the corner.) How is the summer slipping by so fast?

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 cup ground flax seeds
  • 2 large carrots, grated (1 packed cup)
  • 2 medium zucchini, grated (1 packed cup)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.  Grease a muffin tin or line with 12 muffin cups.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, salt, baking powder, flax seeds and pecans.
  3. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil and vanilla.
  4. Add the grated carrots and zucchini to the egg mixture.  Stir to combine.
  5.  Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, mixing until just combined.The batter will be very thick.
  6. Spoon the batter evenly into the 12 muffin cups.  Bake for 10 minutes.
    Lower oven temperature to 350F and bake for an additional 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the centre of a muffin comes out clean.

*Yield: 12 large muffins


Blueberry Buttermilk Muffins

Berry season is here and there is no better breakfast than a warm, just-baked blueberry muffin. I use buttermilk in this recipe because it makes for a moist, perfect crumb which is studded with plenty of fresh blueberries. Be sure to turn off your electric mixer and use a wooden spoon to fold in the blueberries, or you’ll end up with green muffins (which are not too pretty but still very delicious — I learned this lesson the hard way.)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries, washed and patted dry
  • vanilla sugar, for sprinkling (optional)*

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 375F and line muffin tin with paper liners.
  2. In a bowl, stir together 1 1/2 cups of flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the blueberries with the remaining 1/2 cup of flour.  Make sure the blueberries are completely coated in flour.  This will prevent the blueberries from sinking to the bottom of your muffins while they bake.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  5. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.  Add the vanilla and mix until incorporated.
  6. Next, add the buttermilk and flour mixture in alternating batches, starting and ending with the flour.  Mix until just incorporated.
  7. Carefully stir in the blueberries and remaining flour.
  8. Sprinkle vanilla sugar on top of the muffins before baking.
  9. Bake for 25-28 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre of a muffin comes out clean.

*Yield: 12 muffins

**To make your own vanilla sugar combine 1 cup of coarse sanding sugar with the caviar scraped from the inside of a vanilla bean.  Store in an airtight container.


Vanilla Rhubarb Muffins

Summer is my favourite season…and not just because of the warm weather. It’s also the time of year when my grocery bill is cut in half because I can get most of my produce from my father’s amazing garden. Today, my dad gave me a huge bag of rhubarb. I still remember the first time I tasted rhubarb. I was about 9 or 10 years old and I was out playing with my French-Canadian friend next door when she asked me if I wanted a snack. I was thinking chips or cookies…but then she takes me to her backyard and yanks out a few stalks of rhubarb. She poured a little sugar into a bowl and it was snack time! Rhubarb dipped in sugar —  it’s actually pretty good. Rhubarb tends to grow quite rampant in the garden, and this is a great way to use some of it up. This muffin has a delicate vanilla flavour, the rhubarb melts into the batter as it cooks and adds an almost apple-like flavour. The use of mascarpone creates a very tender crumb. I like to sprinkle slivered almonds on top for added texture.

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup butter, melted
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups rhubarb, finely chopped
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup mascarpone
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsps vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • Sliced almonds, to garnish (optional)

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and line muffin tin with paper liners.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, soda and salt.  Toss in the rhubarb and stir to coat.  Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, mascarpone, eggs, vanilla and butter.
  4. Stir the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients.  Mix until just combined. Do not overmix the batter!
  5. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tin.  Sprinkle slivered almonds on top.
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Blueberry Muffins

Why would I post a blueberry muffin recipe in the dead of  winter? Well, because when we were kids, my parents would take us tobogganing at the mountain in St-Michel (my northeast-end Montreal peeps will know exactly what I’m referring to here.)  Afterwards, we’d go to the nearby Dunkin’ Donuts for hot chocolate.  I would always order a blueberry muffin with my hot chocolate…and these blueberry muffins taste a lot like those post-tobogganing treats.  Of course, you could make these when our delicious, local Quebec berries are in season — but then you wouldn’t be able to eat them after tobogganing.  Plus, blueberries were on sale at the grocery store this week.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
  • coarse sugar for sprinkling

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease a muffin tin or line with paper baking cups.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the butter, eggs, milk, vanilla and lemon zest.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until just combined.
  5. Carefully fold in the blueberries.  Scoop batter into muffin tin and sprinkle tops with a little coarse sugar
  6. Bake for 22-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre of a muffin comes out clean.

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