Friday, 5 November 2010

Pumpkin Muffins, with Cream Cheese Filling & Pecan Streusel Topping

As I'm sure you're aware, this time of year is pumpkin season.
And what better way to enjoy a good pumpkin than in some sort of baked product?
Just like these muffins - don't they look lovely?

Now, the problem I have had in the past with pumpkin cakes and their ilk is that most of them hail from across this pond. Our dear American cousins seem to have an obsession with pumpkins that we simply do not share here.
This of course makes obtaining one of the main ingredients required for pumpkin bakes rather difficult... "canned pumpkin puree"?! Really??! Hmm. Not happening.
I've had limited success in the past with liquidising pumpkin, but it isn't perfect & often results in a stringy, watery mess.
And then, whilst browsing t'interwebs as I am wont to do, I came across instructions for making proper pumpkin puree. Genius!

Of course, it needed to be tested. I mean, I have to know if these things work, right? And as such a suitable recipe was required as a test subject. Cue Brown Eyed Baker, and a well-timed post of pumpkin muffins, filled with sweetened cream cheese (yay!), and topped with a pecan streusel.
Oh yeah... ;)

In brief, you'll be making pumpkin puree, making the filling, making the topping, making the cake batter, & whacking it all together in the oven.

The end product is, to be quite honest, fantastic.
A moist, well risen, light & fluffy muffin, with the perfect balance of spices & warmth.
A crunchy, cinnamony topping providing a gorgeous contrast to the cake.
And then that deliciously sharp/sweet combination that is sweetened cream cheese, kicking in halfway through and providing that final "oomph" factor!

Let's ado no longer, here are your instructions:

Pumpkin Muffins, with Cream Cheese Filling & Pecan Streusel Topping (makes 12)

Firstly you will need to make your pumpkin puree:

Take a medium-sized pumpkin, and cut it in half. De-seed, and scrape away the stringy bits.
Cover a baking tray in foil & pop the pumpkin cut-side down onto the tray.
Pop it into an oven preheated to 200 degrees C for 45 minutes or so.
When it's done (the skin should start to look puffy & golden, and the flesh soft) take it out, let it cool for a bit, and peel the skin away. Mash the flesh with a fork or potato masher, done!
One pumpkin will provide lots of puree, but it freezes well so you can keep some in stock for another go, or another recipe!

Stage 2, make the cream cheese filling:
  • 115g cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 65g icing sugar
  • 1 and a half stp vanilla extract
Combine all of the above in a bowl until well-blended.
Place a large piece of clingfilm on your work surface & tip the filling out on to it.
Roll the filling into a sausage-shape, about 12" long, wrap it in the cling film, and pop it in the freezer for at least two hours, longer if possible.

Next, the streusel:
  • 65g plain flour
  • 65g granulated sugar
  • 25g pecans, chopped roughly
  • half tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 tbsp (around 45g) butter, melted
Combine the dry ingredients in a medium bowl, pour the butter over the top, and mix in well with a fork until a crumble-like consistency is achieved.
Set aside for later.

The three above steps can all be done well in advance. The streusel will just need breaking up with a fork before using. I would recommend keeping the streusel at room temp, to prevent the butter setting hard.

Finally, the cake...
  • 190g plain flour
  • 1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 quarters tsp ground nutmeg
  • 3 quarters tsp ground cloves
  • half tsp ground ginger
  • half tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 200g granulated sugar
  • 250g pumpkin puree
  • 180ml vegetable oil
Preheat the oven to 175 degrees C. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with cases.

In a large bowl combine the flour, spices, and bicarb.
In a second bowl, beat the pumpkin, sugar, eggs, oil, & vanilla well, until smooth.
Pour the pumpkin mixture directly over the flour mixture, and roughly combine with a spatula. You only need to mix until the dry ingredients are just moistened - over mixing will result in flat, unhappy muffins! :(
Pour a scant-tablespoon of mixture into each muffin case.
Remove the cream cheese sausage from the freezer, unwrap it, and use a sharp knife to slice it into 12 inch-wide pieces. Work quickly, as it will melt!
Pop a slice into each muffin hole, on top of the batter. Spoon the rest of the batter over the cream cheese pieces, making sure each one is nicely covered & the batter seals around the edges. This will reduce splurge.
Finally, divide the streusel over the muffins, pressing down on it lightly to make sure it sticks.
Bake the muffins for around 20-30 minutes, until golden & well risen. There's not much point poking them with a skewer as the cream cheese in the middle will be soft, and stick to the skewer (yes, I did try!).
Cool them in the tin for a few minutes, then remove to a rack to cool completely. They'll keep for a couple of days in an airtight tin, but don't put them away warm or the streusel will go soft.

Finally, lets have a close-up view of that gorgeous streusel topping shall we?

Becka  xx
Looking at the recipe, you'll see there are a few stages. But have no fear - none of them are complicated, at least 2 of the steps can be done as far in advance as you want, and (trust me here) the results are so very, very worth it!

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