Every few months or so I seem to crave a particular ingredient that I just cannot seem to get enough of. My current new obsession is with pumpkin, although I have been cooking a lot of a variety of winter squash. I prefer to roast my own pumpkin and puree the pulp to use in whatever recipes I want to experiment with. I feel roasted fresh pumpkin has a much better flavor than canned. The past few weeks I have used pumpkin puree to make bread, focaccia, cookies, pasta, polenta, and these tasty muffins that combine pumpkin puree with applesauce.
To make your own roasted pumpkin puree, cut a 4 to 6 pound pie pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds and fibrous threads. (You can reserve the seeds to roat later) Lay the pumpkin halves flesh side down on a foil lined baking sheet. Roast until the pumpkin can be easily pierced with a sharp knife. Cool the pumpkin for an hour or until it is cool enough to handle. Use a large spoon to scoop the roasted flesh from the pumpkin and place it into the bowl of a large food rocessor or blender. Process until very smooth, about 3 to 4 minutes. I prefer to place the pulp in a large sieve for 30 minutes to remove excess liquid, especially if I plan to use the pulp for baking, but this step is optional. The pumpkin puree can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week, or in the freezer up to three months.
I made these muffins a few weeks ago when I was still in Umbria and was trying to use up the ingredients in my refrigerator and freezer before we left. I had some leftover roasted applesauce, farro flour, pumpkin puree, and homemade date paste that I felt would combine together to make truly great muffins. Because the date paste isn’t overly sweet, I made a sugary, crunchy topping for the muffins to add a little extra sweetness and texture. The muffins were very moist and tender, and the crunchy topping was the perfect contrast. Date paste is my new favorite all natural sweetener to use in my baing, but If you are not interested in making your own date paste, you can find it sold at many health food stores, or simply substitute an equal amount of brown sugar. I used my favorite flour, which is farro flour (also called spelt flour), but you could use oat flour or whole wheat pastry flour instead if you prefer.
Deborah Mele 2014
- 1 3/4 Cups Farro Flour (See Notes Above)
- 1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
- 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
- 1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
- 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
- 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
- 1/2 Cup Homemade Date Paste (See Notes Above)
- 2 Large Eggs At Room Temperature
- 3/4 Cup Pumpkin Puree (If Using Canned, Use Pumpkin Puree, Not Pumpkin Pie Filling)
- 2/3 Cup Roasted Applesauce
- 1/2 Cup Olive Oil
- 1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
- 1/2 Teaspoon Grund Cinnamon
- 1/4 Cup Finely Chopped Walnuts
- 1/4 Cup Rolled Oats
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- Preheat oven to 350 Degrees F. and line a muffin tin with paper liners.
- In one bowl, stir together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder and soda and salt.
- In another bowl, whisk together the date paste, eggs, pumpkin, applesauce, and olive oil.
- Pour the batter into the prepared muffin tin.
- In a small bowl, mix together the topping ingredients, rubbing the oil into the dry ingredients with your fingertips.
- Sprinkle the topping over the top of the muffins, and then bake for about 20 minutes or until set.
- Cool 15 minutes before removing from the pan.