Pumpkin muffins – Sütőtökös muffinok

In many countries throughout the world, November 1st is observed as All Saint’s Day.  I grew up with this tradition in what was then Czechoslovakia.  After I moved to America, I learned that here and in some other parts of the world, it is October 31st, Halloween that is celebrated with its interesting activities like kids trick-or-treating or adults attending costume parties.  And there is pumpkin carving, and contests in pumpkin carving, and decorating with pumpkins around houses.

However, as I think hard about this particular time of a year from my childhood, I do recall that in my small village some people made lanterns from pumpkins, placed candles in them, and displayed them in the windows of their houses.  But this wasn’t a tradition in my family.  Today, probably as a result of my upbringing, I don’t celebrate Halloween, but I do display a few pumpkins around our garden and I cook and bake with pumpkins.  I love their color, love their taste, and love their roasted seeds.

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For the last two years I’ve been making home-made puree from the flesh of the pumpkins we use for decoration.  I cut up the cleaned pumpkins into small pieces, roasted them, pureed, cooled, and then portioned into freezer bags.  It served me well in my baking.  I also froze some pieces for cooking, mainly for soups.

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Muffins are one of my favorite, easy to make baked goods.  This particular pumpkin muffin recipe, adapted from Sarabeth Levine’s book Sarabeth’s Bakery: From My Hands to Yours, won’t disappoint you.  On the contrary, you will want to bake them again and again.

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They are attractive when sprinkled with sunflower seeds, they are light-textured and moist, and if you don’t use paper liners for the muffin pan, they will develop a nice crust during baking.  Let’s get started!

all-purpose flour – 450 g (3 ⅔ cups)
baking powder – 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon
ground cinnamon – 1 teaspoon
ground ginger – ¼ teaspoon
ground nutmeg – ¼ teaspoon
sea salt – ¼ teaspoon
unsalted butter – 8 tablespoons + more from the pan
superfine granulated sugar – 260 g (1 ⅓ cups)
eggs – 4
pumpkin puree – 425 g (15-oz = 1 can)
raisins – 150 g (1cup)
unsalted sunflower seeds, hulled – ¼ cup

Heat the oven to 200 °C (400 °F).  Soften some butter and brush the inside cups and top of the muffin pan with it.  Sift the flour into a medium bowl.  Mix in the baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt.

Cut the eight tablespoons of chilled butter into cubes and beat in the bowl of a stand mixer until creamy.  Alternatively, you can use an electric hand-held mixer or a wooden spoon (naturally, it will take longer to prepare the batter).  Gradually beat in the sugar until you get a light colored mixture.  Add the eggs, one at a time.  Beat in the pumpkin puree (on low speed if using a mixer).  The texture might be curdled but that’s all right.  Beat in the flour blended with spices, and add the raisins.

Portion the batter into the prepared muffin pan.  Use a spoon or a 6 cm (2½–inch) diameter ice–cream scoop to have the same amount in the cups. Sprinkle the pumpkin seeds over the top.  Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 190 °C (375 °F), and bake for about 15 more minutes.  The tops of the muffins should be golden brown.  After 10 minutes of cooling, carefully remove the 12 muffins from the pan.

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