But I got stuck: wanting to make so many things - muffins? cookies? cheesecake? the peace cookies so many have praised? - I just didn't know where to start. Then I read the intro to this recipe for pumpkin muffins, "The best pumpkin muffins in New York are made by Sarabeth Levine, the mistress of Sarabeth's jams ..."
Suddenly I realized that, thanks to the benevolence of dinner guests last summer, my pantry was home to a jar of very same jam! And it just happens that those very same guests are today celebrating a special occasion. So Happy Day, Nupur and V, may there be many, many more of this occasion, wherever you call home.
And the muffins? Good!
2010 Update, A Better Recipe for Pumpkin Muffins: Note how I said "good" but didn't rave? That means that the muffins were good enough. But honestly, I never made them again. In contrast, in just a few weeks, I've made these Perfect Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins at least a half dozen times. It's the pumpkin muffin recipe that I recommend, now, wholeheartedly.
A lovely pumpkin color. Scented with spice and vanilla. A little sweet, perhaps, and not quite as moist as expected, even if my comparison is the oil-rich-rich-rich firm-crumbed pumpkin muffins from St. Louis Bread Company aka Panera. Still, these are a keeper.
And the Dorie Greenspan cookbook? Page after page of real-life baking recipes. I've long been a Dorie Greenspan fan, thanks to her Desserts by Pierre Herme, but those are recipes which frankly, require multiple days to do one step after another (and another). My Home to Yours feels like swapping recipes with your best friend, who gives you only her favorites, who shares all her best baking tips. It's a winner. Just yesterday my friend Karen made tender scones from this cookbook. They were delicious!
FROM THE ARCHIVES
Wondering how to use up the leftover pumpkin puree? How about Weight Watchers truffles or a Weight Watchers pumpkin smoothie or Zucchini Pumpkin Bread or even Buttermilk Pancakes?
TWO YEARS AGO Day 12: Carrots Glazed with Maple Syrup & Lime described as "a brilliant combination, maple syrup and lime, a sort of sunlit sweetness".
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Time to table: 60 minutes
1/2 cup pecans (Dorie also suggests walnuts)
1/2 cup (1 stick, 8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup canned unsweetened pumpkin puree, about 1/2 a 15-ounce can (this is NOT the sweetened and spiced pumpkin pie filling)
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon table salt
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup moist, plump golden raisins (mine needed soaking in port to plump up)
Preheat oven to 400F. Place pecans in a baking dish, place in oven to toast as the oven preheats, checking occasionally to avoid burning. Chop fine. [Dorie doesn't toast.]
In a large bowl, cream the butter til soft with an electric mixer. Add the sugars and continue to beat til smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Mix in the vanilla, pumpkin and buttermilk. (Don't worry, the 'curdled' look is natural.)
(Caution: Incoming unorthodox shortcut.) Dump the flour, baking powder and soda, sald and spice onto the batter without mixing in. With a spoon, lightly combine them right on top but still without incorporating into the wet batter. Now use the mixer to combine the dry ingredients and wet batter but just until barely combined. (Too much mixing will create small holes in the muffins while baking.) With a spatula, stir in the raisins (and the toasted nuts, if you prefer them inside versus on top, as the recipe specifies).
Spoon batter into lightly greased/sprayed medium-size muffin trays (papers work fine too) and fill. Sprinkle chopped toasted nuts on top, pressing gently into the batter.
Place the muffin trays on a baking sheet (this is a Dorie Greenspan technique, one I haven't learned the 'why' of yet though suspect it's for more even heat transfer. I did it for the first time: it didn't hurt!) and then the whole thing in the oven. Bake for 25 minutes or until a thin knife inserted in the center of a test muffin comes out clean. Remove from oven and the baking tray, let cool for 5 minutes. Remove the muffins from the baking tin and serve. Best served warm with butter and jam.