Thursday, January 24, 2008

Muffin v. Muffin.

Okay, let me be clear. I'm not a baker at all. I'm drawn to cooking because I love creativity and art. I like to have freedom. A pinch of this. A dash of that. Baking to me = science, rules and structure. None of which are bad at all. I'm just wired a different way. With that all said, I really wanted to try it. I'm a risk taker, after all. I know it will never be my forte, but I don't want to limit myself by never baking. Cookies don't last long in this house and the brownies were gone before I knew it. So, muffins it is! I tried two recipes from Ellie's new book. By the way, I'm making this promise to all of you that this will be the last post about Ellie Krieger's recipes for a while. I love her. Love her food. But I need to spread my wings a bit.

Ten years ago, I worked in downtown Washington DC for a political consultant. There was a coffee shop I frequented that carried a line of yogurt muffins. The baker substituted some oil and butter for yogurt to make it a healthier version. I didn't care for them much and since then I've been hestitant to try anything like it. But I believe in Ellie and decided to make two batches of muffins in her new cookbook. One was a Pumpkin Pie muffin recipe and the other was Apple Pecan. Each batch made 18 muffins. It's just the two of us here so I was already calling up my neighbors asking them to take some off our hands.

Pumpkin Pie Muffin by Ellie Krieger
Cooking spray
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-grain pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons unsulphered molasses
1/4 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup lowfat buttermilk
1/4 cup raw, unsalted pumpkin seeds

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose and whole-wheat flours, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg.

In a large bowl, whisk the sugar, molasses, oil and 1 egg until combined. Add the other egg and whisk well. Whisk in the pumpkin and vanilla. Whisk in the flour mixture in 2 batches, alternating with the buttermilk. Whisk just until combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared muffin pan and sprinkle with the pumpkin seeds. Tap the pan on the counter a few times to remove any air bubbles. Bake for 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center of 1 of the muffins comes out clean.

Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the muffins to loosen them and unmold. Cool completely on the rack.


  • I highly encourage you to resist using the whole wheat flour in your pantry and go and buy whole wheat pastry flour. I really think the pastry flour, which is a little finer in texture and lighter in taste, made this muffin far more superior than other "healthy" muffins I've tried. It wasn't at all dense like I expected. More light and airy.
  • There are a lot of different spices in this recipe. I happened to have all of them on hand, but if you don't, I think adding up the fractions and just using "pumpkin pie spice" would be okay. I looked at my pumpkin pie spice last night and noticed that they were all present except the cloves. I know there's not always a lot of leeway when baking, but I'll try this the next time and see if there's a huge difference in taste.
  • I've had a container of buttermilk powder in my pantry for a while. And sadly, I found it to be inadequate all around. I specifically purchased fresh buttermilk for this round of cooking and was quite pleased with the tanginess it provided. Has anyone had good experiences using the powder?
  • I loved the taste of the toasted pumpkin seeds on the top of these muffins. Mine were packaged as "pepitas" which I believe are the seeds from any squash. So if there's nothing marked as pumpkin seeds, definitely use pepitas.
  • Oh, and just for the heck of it, I added semi sweet chocolate chips to six of these muffins. Tasty, but it didn't it. They were delicious without them, too. I gave these to the neighbors kids.
Apple Pecan Muffins by Ellie Krieger

Cooking spray
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
1 cup natural applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup lowfat buttermilk
1 Golden Delicious apple, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch pieces

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a 12-capacity muffin pan with cooking spray.

In a small bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar, the pecans and cinnamon. In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose and whole-wheat flour, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, whisk the remaining 3/4 cup sugar and oil until combined. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, whisking well after each addition. Whisk in the applesauce and vanilla.

Whisk in the flour mixture in 2 batches, alternating with the buttermilk. Whisk just until combined. Gently stir in the apple chunks.

Pour the batter into the prepared muffin pan and sprinkle with the pecan mixture. Tap the pan on the counter a few times to remove any air bubbles. Bake for 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center of 1 of the muffins comes out clean.

Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the muffins to loosen them and unmold. Cool completely on the rack.


  • I used almonds instead of pecans because I have a huge bag of slivered almonds I need to get through. I also used a Fuji apple rather than Golden Delicious because I prefer them as a snack. I know there's a whole school of thought over baking apples and snacking apples. I thought the Fuji worked out really well here, though. And I had them on hand!
Definitely try to find unsweetened applesauce. The muffins would have been over the top sweet if I used sweetened. I used the Whole Foods brand.
  • In the Muffin v. Muffin challenge, the apple was my favorite. But just by a little. It reminded me so much of my mom's apple sponge cake. It just tasted like home to me.
  • Here's the nutritional information for both muffins provided by Ellie Krieger:

    Pumpkin Pie Muffins:

    Serving Size 1 muffin. The recipe said it made 12, but my batter made 18.

    Per serving- Calories: 205; Total Fat: 7G (Mono: 3.5 G, Poly: 2 G, Sat:1 G); Protein: 5G; Carb: 32G; Fiber: 2G; Chol: 36 MG; Sodium: 223MG. Excellent Source of Thiamin & Vitamin A. Good Source of Manganese, Protein and Vitamin K.

    Apple Pecan Muffins:

    Serving Size 1 muffin. Again, I squeezed out 18 muffins. Ellie still says 12. I guess she has bigger muffin pans than I do!

    Per serving - Calories: 213; Total Fat: 8G (Mono: 3G, Poly: 1.5G, Sat: 1G); Protein: 4G; Carb: 35G; Fiber: 2G; Chol: 36MG; Sodium: 236MG. Excellent Source of Thiamin.

    6 comments:

    klbrown2001 said...

    I love your website, quick question, is there any nutritional information about the muffins?

    Thanks!

    Karen said...

    Yes, I will add an update to the post regarding the muffins nutritional info.

    Thanks so much for the compliment! I really appreciate the positive feedback. I'm having a ball with Test Drive Kitchen ;-) Let me know if you have any requests! I'm open to try just about any recipe or cuisine.

    Karen

    Rebecca said...

    Hi Karen! I just found your blog and I really, really enjoy it! You have a great sense of humor and fine style of writing. I just bought the cookbook yesterday and paged through it last night. I can see why you're trying so many recipes from it. I appreciate the comments you make after you complete a recipe. I plan on trying many of the recipes you've already "test driven". Keep 'em coming! Oh--I, too, have a husband who loves to eat (well, I do, too!) & it's just the 2 of us, so I like your suggestions for dividing & using left-overs. I plan on trying her Roasted Red Pepper Fettucini tonight! Thanks for sharing with us who love to cook!
    Rebecca

    Helene said...

    I will be getting my copy today at the library. Too bad that you will not post more recipe of Ellie for a while.

    Josie said...

    Karen,
    I just got my copy of Ellie's book from amazon. I am loving it!!! I marked the pumpkin muffins as the first thing i wanted to try! Great minds think alike, eh? :) Thanks for the reviews! I will let you know when I start cooking from the book!
    Josie

    Sammy said...

    Just got this recipe and made them. Utterly wonderful. great blog! Chef Sam