Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Pumpkin Muffins

My dear friend Carolyn coined the phrase “President of the Lazy Club” in college to describe individuals who take the easier route – especially when one isn’t necessarily needed. Since I never found making muffins that taxing, I think the Presidents may have found their signature snack.

Courtesy of a timeless pumpkin feature in the October 22, 1986 issue of The (Everett) Herald, these Pumpkin Muffins are so easy my three-year-old nearly made them by himself. The not-so-secret “lazy” ingredient? This month’s highlighted product: Bisquick. And no one is more surprised than I to see Bisquick and pumpkin marry (once again!) in another fall recipe. What will they think of next?

It’s a basic muffin recipe – combine dry ingredients, then wet, then put them together. I found the batter quite stiff, which may account for the real surprise when they came out of the oven: They taste like a pumpkin-spice cake doughnut! In fact except for the fact that they were encased in my cute little Mary Engelbreit muffin-cup liners, I would be hard-pressed to call them “muffins” at all.

Now, granted, they’re not as sweet, nor as greasy, as a real doughnut. But how can you complain? When was the last time you made a cake doughnut in seven minutes?

I was especially thrilled by this turn of events because doughnuts always conjure images of fall and especially Halloween for me. When I was 10 years old (the year before this article ran), my brother and I hosted a Halloween party instead of trick-or-treating (a tradition my mother always loathed). Instead, we bobbed for apples and ate popcorn balls with neighborhood kids whose parents also disliked sending their children out to beg candy from strangers. The highlight of the night, though (aside from my Cleopatra costume) was when my mom strung up a clothesline the length of our kitchen and hung doughnuts from various points along the rope. Then, we vied to see who could eat their doughnut first, without using their hands. Try it. It’s hilarious and delicious – and if that’s not a winning combination, I don’t know what is.

Many years later, my husband and I honeymooned in Vermont (12 years ago this month!) and one of my fondest memories of that perfect fall trip was eating cider doughnuts at an apple orchard outside of Woodstock. (Probably too many cider doughnuts, but what did I care? I’d already squeezed into my wedding dress.)

There’s just something about the spice and chew of a cake doughnut that fits perfectly with the crisp bite of fall. I love that these are remarkably easy and also tasty.  I take my oath of office as President of the Lazy Club. Join me.

Pumpkin Muffins
2 cups biscuit mix
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup mashed pumpkin
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/2 cup raisins, if desired

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease bottom of 12 medium muffin cups. Stir dry ingredients together in mixing bowl. Combine milk, pumpkin, oil and egg in a quarter measuring pitcher or bowl. Pour over dry ingredients and mix with fork until barely moistened. Batter should be lumpy. Gently stir in raisins.

Fill muffin cups two-thirds full. Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon sugar over batter in each cup. Bake 15 to 18 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out dry. Remove muffins from pan immediately.

Makes 12. 

·      I left out the raisins, and I’m glad I did. They would have ruined the doughnut vibe. But add ‘em (or Craisins, which didn’t come along ‘til after this recipe was published) if you love ‘em.
·      I added a scant ¼ teaspoon of cloves in addition to the other spices. I am almost maniacally driven to include all four spices (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and clove) in any kind of all recipe (apple pie, pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, apple butter … ).
·      I don’t know if turbadino or sanding sugar was widely used in the mid-‘80s, but that would be another consideration for the topping, instead of the granulated that is called for (although it was delicious).

Why Don’t You …
·      Try this batter in a mini doughnut pan so the taste will match the visual? Have you seen these? They’re a great way to bake doughnuts instead of frying them. Mine’s from King Arthur Flour, but I bet they’re widely available at kitchen stores. http://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/items/mini-doughnut-pan#5249#


  1. WHERE did you get little Mary Engelbreit muffin-cup liners????

    1. Mary Engelbriet.com is a wealth of goodies, and pretty reasonably priced, too!