Spiced Pumpkin Streusel Muffins
Our weekly organic fruit & veggie baskets have been heavily laden with all the autumn goodies lately - shiny chestnuts, richly flavoured mushrooms, fragrant rockmelon and one of the all-time favourite autumn delights: pumpkin.
So with the weather currently lurching between sunshine-filed Indian Summer days and FREEZING nights in Melbourne at the moment (par for the course in early Autumn) what is yummier than turning to the bounty of the season to ring the changes with a muffin to celebrate Autumn? Crispily-crunchy oat streusel, made extra-delicious with new-season pecans, is held loftily high upon a richly-orange-coloured moist spiced muffin, with all the golden flavour of freshly roasted pumpkin.
For this recipe, you’ll need to have roasted some pumpkin ahead of time, as it needs to be cold. Roasted pumpkin keeps very well in the fridge, so at this time of year I like to add a tray of various veggies into the oven when it’s on for other meals, because roasted veggies can be added to a variety of dishes to bring an extra depth of flavour (and of course welcome nutrition). Drizzle a baking sheet with virgin olive oil, and arrange a single layer of roughly chopped pumpkin (and whatever other veggies tickle your fancy: fennel, beetroot, mushrooms, onions, etc.) on it. Drizzle with a little more olive oil and roast in a moderate (180 degrees C) oven for 30 - 50 minutes or until lightly golden. You’ll need about half a small pumpkin for this recipe - enough to make 2 cups of cooked pumpkin flesh. Any type of pumpkin can be used, as the roasting removes some of the water, making it the perfect base for a moist muffin.
These muffins are made with wholemeal spelt flour + extra virgin olive oil, and use maple syrup (rather than refined sugar) for a denser flavour and moisture texture. They are light and fluffy - I honestly doubt anybody would even realise they aren’t made with white flour - but that’s the magic of using good quality wholemeal spelt flour. As with all cooking, success of flavour and texture comes down to the ingredients, so using a better flour will create a better muffin. Just like sun-ripened organic tomatoes on fresh sourdough beats the flavour of supermarket tomatoes on packaged white sliced bread hands down, I find that paying just a little extra for organic flour makes the world of difference to the end baked result. I’m lucky enough to be able to buy organic spelt flour at my local farmer’s market for pretty much the same price as branded plain supermarket flour - so to me, that’s an available choice. I learnt through trial and error that cheap flour gives inconsistent results. But of course, use whichever flour you prefer and get the best results from.
Spiced Pumpkin Streusel Muffins
⅔ cup rolled oats
⅓ cup whole meal spelt flour
1 cup roughly chopped pecans
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup almond butter
¼ cup maple syrup
Place all ingredients into a bowl and stir with a wooden spoon until combined.
Set aside while you make the muffins.
2 cups roasted pumpkin, cooled
½ cup soy or almond milk
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
⅔ cup maple syrup
½ cup virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon ground vanilla or vanilla essence
2 ½ cups wholemeal spelt flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons mixed spice (or a combination of cloves, ginger, cinnamon)
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
Place milk in large jug and stir in vinegar. Set aside to curdle. (Should happen within a few minutes.)
Line 16 muffin cups with paper cases and set aside.
Place all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir together with a wooden spoon to combine.
Add remaining wet ingredients, including cooled roasted pumpkin flesh, to curdled milk. Stir with a wooden spoon until smooth and evenly mixed.
Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients, and mix with a wooden spoon until just combined. (Over-stirring will make the muffins tough - so just mix until you see no lumps left.)
Spoon mixture evenly into 16 muffin cases.
Divide previously prepared streusel mixture onto the top of each of the muffins, and place in pre-heated oven.
Bake for about 20 minutes or until the muffin springs back when you press your finger into the top of it.
Eat hot, or cold.
Store leftover muffins in an air tight tin for a couple of days, or freeze to keep them for a couple of weeks.