Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Maple Glazed Pumpkin Muffins

Baking fails.  Everyone has them, no matter how long you've been baking. They're inevitable, and while they can be frustrating at times, they're not always a bad thing.  They're an opportunity for learning, for thinking up improvements, and if you're lucky, for snacking on the leftovers.  Tasty baking fails are the best kind of baking fail to have, and that's exactly what happened with these muffins. These muffins are the perfect example of that type of perfect situation. 

A few weekends ago, it was pretty rainy and gross out and all I wanted to do was lie low and watch movies in bed.  I think I wrote about this back in this post for Salted Caramel and Pecan Blondies.  It was the same weekend.  I knew I was behind on my baking and I just had to make something, even though all I wanted to do was hang out in my fuzziest sweatpants with a bowl of popcorn and a movie.  I made the blondies because I knew they would work and I knew they were quick.  Since I was already up, I figured that I might as well make something else, and I thought a quick bread of some kind would work.  Quick breads are easy and comforting, so I thought I was in excellent shape.  I had my second recipe sort of figured out, so after a little more thinking, a pumpkin bread seemed like the best option.  I already had all the ingredients I needed and baked goods don't get more seasonal than pumpkin loaves, so I was ready to go.  I mixed up the bread, baked it, let it cool slightly, and when I went to take it out of the loaf pan, it just would not budge.  It was completely stuck (you may have seen this documented on Instagram). 

Even though my pumpkin loaf was stuck inside my loaf pan, I still was curious to see how it tasted.  I broke off the sweet crumb topping and it was good.  I kept digging into the loaf, while it was still inside the pan, and I honestly really loved it.  Plain cake is one of my absolute favorite things in this whole world, so I went to town with this "disaster" of a pumpkin loaf. It may not have come out of the pan like it should have, but since the flavor and texture were good, I classified this as a baking fail worth a second chance.  I made some notes on the recipe, and filed it away for another rainy day. 

For my second attempt at the pumpkin loaf, I decided that I wanted to take the same batter and make muffins instead, as a little extra insurance to avoid the same disaster as last time. I've never had a batch of muffins get completely stuck to the pan, so I thought this was the way to go.  I also decided to swap out the white sugar in the original recipe for maple syrup, just to add an extra hint of flavor to the muffin batter and keep them really moist.  I mixed the muffins up without any problems, baked them off, and as I pulled them out of the oven, I realized that I had completely forgotten to make the crumb topping to finish off the muffins.  I had envisioned these beautifully spiced pumpkin muffins with a sweet crumb topping, and instead, I got naked, slightly domed muffins.  I wasn't about to make another batch of muffins, so I improvised a simple maple glaze and drizzled it over the top of the muffins.  

After tasting these new muffins, I was actually pretty happy that my loaf cake had gotten stuck in my loaf pan the weekend before.  These were actually so much better!  Switching out the sugar for maple syrup gave the muffins so much more flavor, and they were incredibly moist and fluffy.  I'm not much of a pumpkin lover, but I really think I could have easily eaten all of the muffins by myself if I had the chance.  The drizzle of maple glaze was the perfect way to finish off the muffins.  I love how a quick, free form drizzle can be such a visually striking way to finish something as simple as a muffin.  The glaze adds just a hint of sweetness to the muffins that pairs nicely with its warm spiced flavors.  In short, what was originally a baking fail ended up as a really great baked treat.  Now if only all my baking fails could have a happy ending like that...


Maple Glazed Pumpkin Muffins
recipe adapted from Epicurious


For the Muffins

1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup vegetable oil
scant 1 cup pure pumpkin puree
2 extra large eggs, at room temperature

For the Glaze

1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
splash of milk, as needed


Begin by preheating the oven to 350 degrees F.  Position a rack in the middle of the oven and line muffin cups with paper liners.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and ground cloves. Set aside.

In the bowl of a standard electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, maple syrup, and oil for a few minutes until combined.  Add the pumpkin and mix until combined.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time until just incorporated.  The batter may look slightly curdled at this point, but it's fine.  With the mixer running on low speed, slowly add in the flour mixture and 2/3 cup of water.  Mix only until just combined.

Using an ice cream scoop, evenly portion out the batter among the prepared muffin cups, filling them 2/3 of the way. Bake the muffins in the oven until they're slightly domed and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20-22 minutes.  Set the muffin tins on a wire rack and allow to cool for ten minutes. Transfer the muffins from the tins to the wire rack and allow to cool completely. 

While the muffins are cooling, prepare the maple glaze.  In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar and maple syrup.  Add a splash of milk until you get a glaze with a nice consistency.  You want the glaze to be thick, but still pourable.  If you accidentally add too much milk, just add a little more powdered sugar.  Play around with the ingredients until you get the consistency just right.  Once the muffins have cooled, drizzle the glaze on top. Enjoy!

Makes 16 muffins


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