I got up at 6am yesterday to make muffins for the kid’s last day of camp. It was 80ºF before I even turned the oven on to preheat so you might ask if I was suffering from heat stroke (I wasn’t) or if I’d simply lost my mind (not that I know of). What would have inspired me to make muffins in the middle of an excruciating heat wave in an un-air conditioned house? Because my kids had asked me to.
It’s my achilles heel being asked by someone I love to cook for them. I can say no to people I’m not related to, though I often say yes. I can even be quite snappish with my own two offspring when they tell me they need something baked in a mere two hours (but Mom I forgot to tell you I needed them…..). This time Russell asked on Monday–four days in advance, and he said please. Once Isabelle heard I was baking magnificent muffins for him she asked for some too. So of course I agreed. Which is why I was turning the oven on the day the thermometer promised to top 100ºF.*
I like muffins. They’re a happy, all-American breakfast food that you can hold in your hand. These muffins are particularly delicious, hence their name – magnificent muffins. Moist with pumpkin, zippy with blueberries with a nice messy streusel topping make them hard to resist. This recipe is adapted from Ken Haedrich’s book Feeding the Vegetarian Family. Besides the great taste this is a vegan recipe, which means it will work for folks who are allergic to dairy (if you’re baking for people with tree nut allergies you’re out of luck). I’ve come to believe that while I don’t personally want to be a vegan, it’s always a good idea to have a few vegan recipes in your recipe box, especially if you live here in the happy valley. The final selling point I have for these muffins is that you can make your wet and dry mixes the night before. Store the wet in the fridge and the dry and streusel mix on the counter, have your muffin pans ready so by the time the oven has preheated you’ll be ready to slide them in to bake.
Magnificent Meltdown Muffins
I use frozen blueberries in the winter and fresh in the summer. One can of pumpkin will make two recipes.
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup orange juice
½ cup maple syrup
½ cup vegetable oil
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup whole wheat flour (sometimes I use white)
1 cup walnuts chopped super fine (measure first then chop)
1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon allspice
1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
Streusel (see recipe below)
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Oil or grease 24 muffin cups then dust with flour or extra streusel topping or wheat germ. Whisk together pumpkin, oj, maple syrup, and oil. In a separate bowl stir dry ingredients together. If using frozen blueberries plop them into the flour mix to keep them from smearing too much when you combine the wet and dry mixes. Gently mix together pumpkin mix with flour mix and if using fresh blueberries add them in near the end. Spoon batter into muffin cups and sprinkle with streusel mix. Bake 35 minutes, cool in pan for 10 minutes then finish cooling on wire rack.
This topping is so good that I usually make a triple batch and store it in the freezer. It’s good for simple fruit crumbles, on top of plain yogurt, or as the topping for magnificent muffins.
1 1/2 cups walnuts
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup oatmeal
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2-3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
Pulse walnuts in a food processor until fairly fine, then add rest of ingredients and pulse to combine. You don’t want the mixture to be too oily or too dry so pinch a bit between your fingers to test as you’re adding the oil.
*Weather Update: After camp we went into Northampton to grab a few things at the store. When we got back into the car (which was parked in the shade) the thermometer read 106º. After we rolled down the windows and drove for a bit it climbed to 108º! As we wound our way back to Whately we watched it drop – to a cool 87º!