To me, there’s nothing quite so wonderful as a warm muffin on a cold, fall morning. They’re fast, delicious, and come in a convenient single serving. I like to pop a pan in the oven before I jump in the shower so I can emerge to the smell of sweet baked goods, wafting from my kitchen.
I love muffins, probably to a fault. No one else in my house seems to share my passion, though. In fact, the other day, when I asked my four-year-old daughter what she wanted for breakfast, she said, “Anything except a muffin.” So apparently they have gotten a little old around here. No matter. I still make a batch on a regular basis, freeze the muffins, and eat a few for breakfast a couple times a week. So this morning, with fog so dense outside my window that I could only see the dark skeletons of trees, I decided it was definitely time to usher in the season with a pumpkin recipe, and muffins seemed the best medium.
The only problem with muffins, as I see it, is that most of them are really just cupcakes. What I want is a real breakfast food, not a dessert. However, it’s tough to find a muffin recipe that’s nutritious and still tasty. I’ve tried many that are dry or tasteless or far too dense. I’ve been tinkering with this bran muffin recipe for months, and I think I’ve finally found the perfect balance: They’re slightly sweet, but not overly so, and they’re filling because of the bran. At the same time, the pumpkin gives them a nice moistness and a tinge of fall. The molasses makes them reminiscent of gingerbread. The real kicker, though, is the crystallized ginger, which I love. If you’re not a fan, I would try it anyway, at least in a few of the muffins, as the ginger loses a lot of its bite during baking. This is particularly true if you get extra-thin strips, and make sure it’s the kind coated in sugar. Then be sure to mince it very well. If you can handle the heat, use a little more, or larger pieces of it.
Special Diets and Allergies: Dairy free if you use non-dairy milk; nut free.
What are your favorite ways to use crystallized ginger? Better yet, what’s your favorite muffin recipe?
Pumpkin Gingerbread Muffins
Makes 12 muffins
Molasses and pumpkin combine to make these bran muffins light and sweet. The crystallized ginger gives them an element of surprise—a delightful burst of heat and sweetness. If you don’t like crystallized ginger, you can leave it out, or substitute raisins. Make sure you don’t overcook these, as they can dry out quickly. Also, because of the bran and whole what flour, they need as much of a boost from the baking powder as they can get, so put them in the oven as soon as you can after combining the wet and dry ingredients.
3/4 C wheat bran
3/4 C milk of choice (I used Almond Breeze original almond milk)
1/4 C molasses
1/4 C + 2 T pureed pumpkin
1 1/2 t vanilla
1 egg, slightly beaten
2 T vegetable oil
1 1/4 C whole wheat pastry flour
4 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/2 t powdered ginger
1/4 C well-minced crystallized ginger
- Preheat the oven to 400 F. Grease a standard 12-cup muffin tin.
- Measure the bran into a large mixing bowl. Heat the milk until steaming. Pour over the bran and stir until combined. Let sit on your counter until room temperature, about 20 minutes (less if you stir it a few times).
- Add the molasses, pumpkin, vanilla, egg, and oil to the bran. Whisk to combine.
- In a separate bowl, stir the flour, baking powder, and salt together.
- Add the flour mixture to the bran mixture and stir just until combined. Add the minced crystallized ginger.
- Pour the batter into the muffin tin. Bake for 14-16 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center of one of the muffins comes out clean. (This takes 16 minutes in my oven).
- As soon as you can do so without smashing the muffins, maybe 2 to 3 minutes, remove the muffins from the tin and place on a rack to cool.