Tag Archives: cinnamon

Pumpkin Muffins with Crumb Topping… Top of the Muffin to Ya!

This morning I made pumpkin muffins with crumb topping. Why? Because it’s pumpkin season plain and simple. I was not in the mood for pumpkin muffins, but I found a can of pumpkin in my pantry (which I tend to always have) and decided to make them. Why I always have a can of pureed pumpkin is a mystery, but I think most bakers do. At least I hope I’m not alone in this! Isn’t the weekend always made better with a basket filled with muffins on the table and the smell of cinnamon in the air?

Maybe it’s all the subliminal messaging I feel I’m getting. Every time I walk into the grocery store (especially Trader Joe’s) right in the front display are the pumpkin Jo-Jo’s and everything pumpkin spice. It doesn’t stop there; pumpkin and pumpkin spice has found its way into coffee and tea, cereal, granola, ice cream, cookies, tortilla chips, salsa, biscotti, cream cheese, bagels, candy, and even challah bread! When did this happen? And what ever happened to the good old pumpkin muffin? Why has it been pushed aside? Shouldn’t it play a leading role in pumpkin season? I think so. That’s why I set out to make what I think is the most perfect, moist, and delicious pumpkin muffin with crumb topping.

I went through a lot of cookbooks and websites searching for the perfect muffin. Then I wrote down everything I love about them. I made about 4 batches before hitting on the perfect marriage. These are not too sweet and they stay nice and soft for a few days.* Raisins add a nice surprise and you know I’m crazy for crumb topping so both have a major role in my final version. I also used the whole can of pumpkin to see what would happen, and it was perfect. I just hate having a smidgen of pumpkin left in my fridge.

I also made a tray with sunflower seeds sprinkled on top which are very worthy of a mention here. If you prefer to skip the crumb, by all means sprinkle them with sunflower or even pumpkin seeds – both add a nice crunch to the top. I’m including the photo above so you can see how tender the cake is and how cute they are with sunflower seeds! Am I right?

I almost forgot to share this fun little tidbit about Ohio life with you. Last weekend was the Circleville, Ohio Pumpkin Show. It’s a whole weekend dedicated to pumpkins. In 14 years I have never been. Thanks to my friend Andrea, I can share her photo of the 2 largest pumpkins this year. A 1,701 pound pumpkin would sure make a lot of muffins! Usually I would end with Enjoy! But this time I’m going to end differently… You’re Welcome!

1 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour spooned in and leveled
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ginger
1/2 cup extra light olive oil,** or other vegetable oil
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
1 – 15oz. can Libby’s 100% pure pumpkin***
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature (large will work here as well)
1/4 cup milk (I used almond milk) at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup white raisins
confectioners’ sugar (optional)

Crumb topping:
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter melted (make these dairy free by using Earth’s Balance soy free sticks)

Place rack in the center of the oven. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 12-count muffin pan with nonstick spray or line with cupcake liners. This recipe makes 16 to 18 muffins, so prepare 2 muffin pans accordingly and set aside. total time including prep 30 minutes

Start with the crumb topping: whisk the flour, granulated sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt together until combined. Using a fork, stir in the melted butter until crumbs form breaking up any big pieces. Set aside.

Make the muffins: In a medium bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt together until combined. Set aside. In a larger bowl, whisk the oil, granulated sugar, brown sugar, pumpkin puree, eggs and milk together until combined. If you are using raisins, add them at this time and mix in. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, then fold everything together gently just until combined and no flour pockets remain.

Using a 2 ½ in cookie scoop, scoop the batter into liners. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of crumbs evenly on top of the batter and ever so gently press them down into the batter. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes total or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. I like to bake them for 10 minutes, then turn the pans and bake for another 10. After that I keep a close eye on them setting the timer for 2 minutes at a time. That’s what makes the difference between a moist muffin and one which is a little dryer. For mini muffins, bake for 11-13 minutes also at 350°F

Let cool in muffin pan and sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar if you would like.*I leave them out very lightly covered and suggest warming them in the toaster oven after day 2 (if they are still around). That will crisp up the top a bit and who doesn’t’ love a warm muffin?

**You may notice I use extra light olive oil, sunflower oil, or grape seed oil, in most of my baking when oil is called for. I think they are the perfect baking oils, and the healthiest. Any good vegetable oil would be a great sub.

***Different brands of pureed pumpkin will yield different results. I tried two others and felt Libby’s had the best flavor and end result. If you use a different brand, I can’t promise the same results so bake at your own risk!!!!!!!

Ode to my Mother-in-law Joan, and her Snickerdoodles

This post is an Ode to my Mother-in-law Joan, and her Snickerdoodles. First, the Snickerdoodle… Where did it originate? Who thought of the name? Why do so many people love it? One theory about it’s origin lies in New England. It is possible it is just a nonsense made up word. Need I remind you of the whoopie pie? Another theory could be, it is of German origin, from the word Schneckennudel (“snail noodles”). I’m sure there is some in-depth research done on this topic, but I’m satisfied with the ones I have found! Plus, who can argue with Schneckennudel? Why so many people love it – is easy! It’s a cookie that is crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside, with a delicious hit of cinnamon in every bite and a little tang from the cream of tartar.

For me, it originated in Pleasant Hills, Pennsylvania in the 90’s. It was the first time I had ever heard of one, seen one, or tasted one. I was well into my 20’s and I’m pretty sure it was Thanksgiving. My mother-in-law Joan was the person who introduced me to this soft, fluffy, cinnamon laced cookie. She baked them almost every time we visited. There they sat in a tin, along side the other tins filled with cookies I had never tasted before: gingersnaps, spritz cookies, rum balls and chocolate gobs. Opening each tin was like unwrapping a birthday present and finding a surprise inside. After all of this, you probably think the snickerdoodle is my favorite cookie – but you would be wrong. I like them just fine but they are far from my favorite cookie. On the other hand, my boys and husband absolutely love them.

Over the years I have attempted to make them but they never came out as good as my mother-in-laws. Once they seemed so different my boy’s coined the term “Sherri-doodle” cookies! After a while, I gave up trying to make them. This past summer, my mother-in-law Joan passed away. I think in many ways her passing is the reason I have had such difficulty writing my blog. For me, food is so personal and has a strong connection to people and events in my life. Just thinking about writing seemed trivial and just sad. Plus, I loved her phone calls after I posted and knew I would miss that. It was the one thing we had most in common. We both love to read cookbooks, try new recipes, share our love of baking with others, and had a mutual admiration for the other when it came to the culinary arts.

I have always anticipated sharing some of her recipes with my readers. I guess it’s true what they say, don’t put off till tomorrow, what you can do today. The past couple of weeks I faced my baker’s block and today I am facing my writer’s block. I attempted the Snickerdoodle once more. This time, using my mother-in-law Joan’s recipe, they were delicious. The recipe comes from a community cookbook entitled Tried & True Recipes, The Best from Beth Israel Center’s Sisterhood and submitted by Judy Weiss. So here’s to you Joan, the first in many tributes to your fantastic baking and cooking – of course with a Splash of Sherri! I just couldn’t bring myself to use Crisco as the original recipe calls for. Crisco is something we didn’t agree on!

1 cup butter softened (or Crisco)*
1 – 1/2 cups sugar
2 extra-large eggs (bring to room temperature)
2 – 3/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cream of tarter
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons of sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside. In a bowl sift together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt and set aside. Cream butter and sugar, then add the eggs. Add the flour to the butter mixture, mix and then chill the dough. (I was a little impatient here and didn’t chill the dough). They came out great, but will chill the dough the next time to see if there is a difference.

Roll into balls the size of small walnuts. I used a cookie scoop that was 2  1/2 teaspoons. Roll the ball in mixture of 2 tablespoons of sugar and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon. Place on a cookie sheet 2 inches apart for 8 to 10 minutes. Joan’s notes say to bake 10 minutes for soft cookies, 12 -15 for crisp cookies. With the small scoop, I ended up with 80 2 1/2″ cookies! The cookies will puff when they bake and then flatten to a crinkled top.

*Some recipes call for 1/2 butter and 1/2 Crisco.