Pumpkin Muffins with Cinnamon-Sugar Topping

I do have a favorite pumpkin loaf but I can’t resist trying another recipe- especially if it involves cinnamon-sugar. 🙂 This one incorporated lovely spices as well.

This recipe was adapted from Smitten Kitchen.com. I increased the amount of cinnamon-sugar topping and baked the batter as muffins rather than a loaf. I love the portion control of a muffin.

Makes: 18 standard muffins or 1 large 9×5-inch loaf

For the Batter:

  • 1 15-ounce can (1 3/4 cups) pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) vegetable or another neutral cooking oil or melted butter (115 grams)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 2/3 (330 grams) cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • heaped 1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
  • heaped 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • two pinches of ground cloves
  • 2 1/4 cups (295 grams) all-purpose flour

For the Cinnamon-Sugar Topping:

  • 2 tablespoons (24 grams) granulated sugar (use 1 T for a loaf)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (use 1 tsp for a loaf)
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F, preferably on convection.
  2. Butter 18 muffins wells or a 6-cup loaf pan or coat it with nonstick spray. (I used 8 outer wells in one pan and 10 in another.)
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together pumpkin, butter or oil, eggs and sugar until smooth.
  4. Sprinkle baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinanmon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves over batter and whisk until well-combined.
  5. Add flour and stir with a spoon or rubber spatula, just until mixed.
  6. Using a 3 tablespoon scoop, ration the batter into prepared muffin wells, or scrape into a loaf pan, and smooth the top(s).
  7. In a small dish, whisk or stir sugar and cinnamon together. Sprinkle over top of batter. (I sprinkled 1/2 teaspoon over each muffin top.)
  8. Bake muffins for 15 to 17 minutes, and a loaf for 55 to 75 minutes, or until a tester poked into all parts of cake (both the top and center will want to hide pockets of uncooked batter) come out batter-free, rotating the pans once during the baking time for even coloring. (I rotated the oven racks between the two muffin pans as well.
  9. Cool in the pan(s) for 10 minutes and then remove, or cool completely in the pan(s). The latter provides the advantage of letting more of the loose cinnamon sugar on top adhere before being knocked off. 

Note: The muffins (or loaf) keep well at room temperature. The original recipe recommends covering the cut edge of the loaf with a piece of foil or plastic and leaving the top exposed to best keep the lid crisp as long as possible.

Crusty Sourdough Rolls

I have made these wonderful rolls on numerous occasions. I love that they can be prepared from start to finish in an hour or two. We have eaten them as dinner rolls and as sandwich rolls.

This recipe was adapted from HeartsContentFarmhouse.com. I weighed the ingredients, and used a stand mixer and warming drawer. Similar to Portuguese rolls, these have also become a family favorite.

Yield: 8 rolls

  • 7 oz of thick liquid pourable starter (1 1/4 cups)
  • 13 oz white bread flour (2 1/2 cups to 3 cups)
  • 6.5 oz of water (3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of yeast
  1. Combine the starter, flour, water, and sugar in a large bowl. Stir to combine. The mixture should be a slightly sticky dough.
  2. Cover and allow to rest for about 20-40 minutes. (I put the covered bowl in a warming drawer for 20 minutes.)
  3. Add the salt and yeast on top of the dough, and transfer it to whatever you are using to knead. For a stand mixer, use the dough hook and set it on low for about 5 to 7 minutes. If kneading by hand, knead for about 10 minutes (with a 5 minute rest halfway) without adding any additional flour. ( If using a bread machine, set it on the dough cycle.)
  4. Check the consistency of the dough after a few minutes of kneading.  It may seem sticky, but should clear the sides of the bowl.  If it seems very wet, add more flour a few tablespoons at a time.
  5. When the dough is kneaded, cover it and put in in a warm place to rise between 40-90 minutes. (If using the bread machine, let it complete the cycle and leave it in the machine a bit longer.)
  6. When the dough has completed its first rise, dump it onto the counter or a cutting board. Prepare a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper dusted with cornmeal.
  7. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces. I use a scale and aim for a tad over 3 ounces for each.
  8. Shape the pieces into rolls by pinching the bottoms. Place on the cornmeal dusted parchment.
  9. Cover with heavily greased plastic wrap and allow to rise again at room temperature for 30-45 minutes. (I placed the baking sheet in a warming drawer for 45 minutes.)
  10. Fifteen minutes prior to the end of the rising time, preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Place one rack in the center, and one in the lower middle area. Place an empty baking sheet on the lower rack to get hot while the over heats.
  11. Rub the top of each roll with flour. Slash, if desired, using kitchen shears, a lame, or sharp knife. Cover while the oven is preheating.
  12. When the oven has heated and the rolls have risen, pour 1 cup of water on the hot baking sheet to create steam. (It may buckle.)
  13. Place the rolls inside the oven and bake for 15-21 minutes, until browned outside and until the internal temperature reads 210 degrees on an instant thermometer. Cool on wire rack.

Sourdough Soft Pretzels

Last spring, when the “New York Pause” of self-isolation began, our family enjoyed many special Happy Hours. My son tried every flavor of San Pellegrino soda and my daughter’s beverage alternated between lemonade and Arnold Palmer. We have limited these indulgences to once a week (if at all) at this point. 😉

The kids and I made these soft pretzels on a couple of these occasions. I loved that we all shaped them differently! We ate them with a variety of mustards and with warm queso (from Trader Joe’s) on another occasion. The melted butter was essential.

This recipe was adapted from King Arthur flour. I used active dry yeast and omitted the malt. Great.

For the Dough:

  1. Prepare a rimmed baking sheet by spraying it with vegetable oil spray, or lining it with parchment paper.
  2. Mix and knead the dough ingredients — by hand, mixer, or bread machine — to make a cohesive, fairly smooth dough. It should be slightly sticky; if it seems dry, knead in an additional tablespoon or two of water.
  3. Cover the dough and let it rest for 45 minutes. It will rise minimally. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F, preferably on convection.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly greased work surface, fold it over a few times to gently deflate it, then divide it into 12 pieces, each weighing about 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 ounces.
  5. Roll each piece of dough into an 18″ rope. Shape each rope into a pretzel.
  6. Brush the pretzels with water and sprinkle lightly with coarse pretzel salt.
  7. Bake the pretzels for 25 to 30 minutes, until they’re a light golden brown. Note: This is correct; there’s no need to let the shaped pretzels rise before baking.
  8. Remove the pretzels from the oven, and brush with melted butter, if desired. (We thought it was essential!)
  9. Serve with a variety of mustards and/or queso, as desired.

Sourdough English Muffins

As a big fan of English muffins, I tried a few sourdough versions before finally finding this successful one. It was worth it!

This recipe is from Emilie Raffa’s book, Artisan Dough Made Simple, via thelemonapron.com. I may need this book. 🙂 I cooked the muffins in a large cast iron skillet but may try to expedite the process by using a griddle next time. They were equally delicious with mustard egg and cheese as with butter and jam.

Yield: 12 to 14 muffins

  • 245 grams (1 cup plus 1 tsp) milk, whole or 2%
  • 120 grams (1/2 cup) water
  • 56 grams (4 tbsp) unsalted butter, cubed
  • 75 grams (heaped 1/2 cup) bubbly active starter
  • 24 grams (2 tbsp) granulated sugar
  • 500 grams (4 cups plus 2 tbsp) all purpose flour
  • 9 grams (1 1/2 tsp) salt
  • Cornmeal or semolina flour, for dusting

To Make the Dough:

  1. In a small saucepan, warm the milk, water and butter together over low heat, or in the microwave. Cool slightly before adding to the dough.
  2. Add the starter and sugar to a large bowl. Slowly pour in the warm milk mixture, while whisking to combine.
  3. Add the flour and salt. Mix with a fork to form a rough dough, then finish by hand to fully incorporate the flour. Cover with a damp towel and let rest 30 minutes. Meanwhile replenish your starter and store according to preference.
  4. After the dough has rested, work the mass into a semi-smooth ball, about 15-20 seconds. (I did this on a lightly floured piece of plastic wrap.)

Bulk Rise:

  1. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl.
  2. Cover the bowl with the damp towel and let rise until double is size, about 8-10 hours at 70 degrees F. (21C) (I let the dough rise for about 5 hours in a proofing oven.)
  3. Once fully risen, cover the dough in lightly oiled plastic wrap and chill in fridge overnight.

To Shape:

  1. In the morning, remove the cold dough from the fridge onto a floured surface. Let it rest 10 minutes.
  2. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper and sprinkle a generous amount of cornmeal all over them. This will prevent the dough from sticking.
  3. With floured hands, pat the dough into a rectangle or oval, about 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) thick.
  4. Cut rounds about 3 inches in diameter (you can use the rim of a drinking glass: use a rim that isn’t too thick) You should get 10-12 rounds. (I used a Bonne Maman jam jar.)
  5. Place them onto the cornmeal on the baking sheets. Sprinkle tops with more cornmeal.

For the Second Rise:

  1. Cover the dough with a damp towel and let rest till puffy, about 1 hour depending on the temperature of your kitchen. (I used a proofing oven.)

To Cook the Muffins:

  1. Warm a large cast iron or non-stick skillet (you can also use a cast iron griddle) over low to medium-low heat.
  2. Place a few rounds of dough into the pan to fit comfortably. Don’t worry, they really won’t spread.
  3. Cook on one side for about 8 to 10 minutes, checking at the halfway mark for even browning. Adjust the heat if necessary. Flip the muffins over and continue to cook for an additional 8-10 minutes. When ready, the muffins should feel lightweight and the sides should spring back when pressed gently.
  4. Transfer the muffins to a wire rack to cool. Continue cooking the remaining rounds.
  5. When ready to eat, split them open using a fork piercing into the equator of each all the way around and gently prying open.

Recipe Notes:

Muffins will stay fresh 2 days, stored in an airtight container or plastic bag at room temperature.

The tip to cooking English muffins is to find balanced heat.  If the flame is too high, the outside will brown too quickly leaving the center undercooked.  If you find this has happened, finish baking the muffins in a low heat oven (about 250F) until cooked through.

You can avoid this by doing a test run with one or two muffins to begin with to help guide your stove top heat.

You can make the dough Friday morning before you leave the house for the day, put it in the fridge at the end of the day, and then bake them on Saturday morning for a great treat.

Classic Sourdough Sandwich Bread

Compared to my last post, this is a more classic sourdough loaf. Like the other loaves, it has a great crumb and tender texture inside but this loaf has a crispy top crust and a more pronounced sourdough flavor.

This recipe is from Bob’s Red Mill. The original recipe states that it is ideal for all kinds of sandwiches, as well as toast, bread pudding and bread crumbs. We enjoyed it for wonderful sandwiches and toast, but making bread pudding with this beautiful loaf might need to happen in the future. 🙂

Yield: One 2-pound loaf

  • 1 ¼ cups room temperature water, 75°F (10 fl oz)
  • 2/3 cup active sourdough starter (6 1/2 oz)
  • 3 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (1 lb)
  • 1 T table salt or 4 tsp Kosher salt
  1. In a large mixing bowl, dissolve water and starter.
  2. Add flour and mix until a rough and shaggy dough forms, about 4 minutes (low-speed if using an electric mixer).
  3. Cover with a towel and let rest for 15 minutes.
  4. Add salt and mix until a slightly soft and elastic dough (which easily pulls away from the sides of the bowl) forms, 6–10 minutes by hand or about 2–4 minutes on medium speed with an electric mixer. To ensure proper gluten development, tear off a small piece of dough and stretch it as thin as possible; if a thin, transparent “window” is visible without any tearing, the dough is ready to proof.
  5. Transfer dough to a large lightly oiled bowl, turning dough to coat all sides in oil. Cover with plastic and let rise in a warm place until puffy, about 30 minutes.
  6. Punch down the center of the dough and fold all four sides into the center. Flip dough upside down, cover, and let rise again, another 30 minutes.
  7. Repeat the punch and rise a total of four times (2 hours). The dough has properly proofed when a light push with a finger leaves an indentation that does not spring back.
  8. Remove proofed dough from the bowl and place on a floured work surface. Gently stretch into a 10-inch rectangle. Fold the short ends of the dough to meet in the center. Fold the top of the dough to the center and lightly seal with fingertips. Fold the top of the dough to the bottom and seal with the heel of the hand, then gently roll into a 6-inch long cylinder. Cover and let rest 15–20 minutes.
  9. Uncover the dough and turn the cylinder seam-side-up on a floured work surface. Press and gently stretch the dough to a 6-inch rectangle. Fold the top of the dough to the center and press with the fingertips to seal and tighten. Fold the top of the dough to the bottom and seal with the heel of the hand. Gently roll the dough into a tight and smooth 8-inch loaf.
  10. Place the dough in a lightly oiled 8 x 4-inch loaf pan. Cover with plastic and proof until puffy and an indentation does not spring back, 30–40 minutes. (My final rise time was about 1 hour, just until the dough rose over the rim of the loaf pan.)
  11. Meanwhile, preheat an oven to 450°F. Place a baking tray on the lowest rack of the oven and place a baking stone (if using) on the center rack. Make sure the oven (and baking stone) preheat for at least 30 minutes.
  12. When the dough is ready to bake, gently score the top of the loaf with a few slashes using a lame, kitchen shears, razor blade, or very sharp knife.
  13. Place the loaf pan on the preheated baking stone and pour 4 cups of water into the baking pan on the bottom rack. Quickly close the oven door and let bake at 450°F until browned on top, 35–45 minutes. To ensure doneness, gently remove the bread from the pan and tap the bottom of the loaf–a hollow sound should be audible. Using a probe thermometer, test for a final interior temperature of 200–210°F.
  14. Let cool at least 20 minutes before slicing.

Tender Sourdough Sandwich Bread

I have two sourdough sandwich loaves to share. This recipe makes two tender and delicious loaves, absolutely perfect for sandwiches. The inclusion of dry milk and butter resulted in a prolonged storage time compared to typical sourdough loaf. It sliced very easily as well.

This recipe was adapted from King Arthur Flour. The levain is prepared the night before making the dough. The dough also incorporates instant yeast to expedite the rising times.

Yield: Two 8-inch loaves

For the Levain:

  • 1 cup + 1 tablespoon (128g) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon (128g) cool water (60° to 70°F)
  • 3 tablespoons (44g) ripe (fed) sourdough starter

For the Dough:

  • 5 1/4 cups (631g) King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour or King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour*
  • scant 6 tablespoons (50g) nonfat dry milk
  • 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons, 57g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups (340g) water (70° to 80°F)
  • all of the ripe levain

To Make the Levain:

  1. Mix all of the levain ingredients together and place in a covered container with room for the levain to grow. It will almost double in size, and will take about 12 hours to ripen (ferment) at room temperature (70°F). When perfectly ripened, there’ll be large bubbles (mostly below the surface) creating a somewhat rippled effect. It’ll appear almost fluffy. If the levain is covered with a froth of tiny bubbles, it’s a bit over-ripened; but don’t worry, you can still use it.

To Make the Dough:

  1. Mix and then knead together all of the dough ingredients, including the levain, to make a smooth, supple, and not overly sticky dough. (I used a stand mixer.)
  2. Place the kneaded dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl, and let the dough rise for 1 to 2 hours, until doubled in size. (I used a proofing oven.)
  3. Divide the dough in half, and shape each half into 8″ logs. (I used a scale to divide the dough evenly, about 710 grams per loaf.)
  4. Place the logs, seam side down, in two lightly greased 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ bread pans. (9″ x 5″ pans will also work)
  5. Cover the pans with lightly greased plastic wrap, and let the loaves rise until they’ve crowned about 1″ over the rim of the pan, about 45 minutes to 1 hour (or up to 2 hours). (I used a proofing oven.)
  6. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 375°F.
  7. Bake the bread for 25 to 35 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the sides of the loaf feel firm.
  8. Remove the loaves from the oven, and turn them out of the pans onto a rack to cool. Let them cool completely before slicing.

*All-purpose flour will produce a somewhat stickier dough.

Note: To prevent a wrinkled top surface: Slash the top of the loaf several times before baking, much as you would a baguette. This helps release the steam that gathers under the crust, which can produce wrinkles as the baked loaf cools.

Honey Beer Bread

My son has become obsessed with making this bread. It is absolutely delicious and he can make it completely independently. He has experimented with several types of beers but his favorite is a light lager because the flavor it imparts is more subtle.

This recipe was adapted from Little Sweet Baker. We have made it several times to serve with pulled chicken sandwiches- a great combination. The bread is buttery and has a chewy texture. Great!

Yield: One 9-inch loaf

  • 3 cups (375g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) honey
  • 1 bottle of beer, of choice (330 to 355 ml) of choice, at room temperature (our favorite is Trader Joe’s light lager)
  • 4 T melted unsalted butter, divided (I melt the butter in the microwave in separate 2 T portions)
  1. Preheat oven to 350F, preferably on convection.
  2. Grease a 9×5″ loaf pan with cooking oil spray. Set aside. (I used a glass loaf pan.)
  3. Sift the flour into a large bowl, then whisk in the baking powder and salt.
  4. Pour in 2 tablespoons of the melted butter, followed by the honey and beer.
  5. Stir all the ingredients together until just combined.
  6. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and brush the remaining 2 tablespoons of melted butter on top.
  7. Bake for 40 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  8. Let cool in pan for 5-10 minutes, then remove the bread to cool on a wire rack.

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