From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...While I'm not usually a contrarian, I decided to make muffins for a Christmas bake sale this week. I was working on the theory that there would be cookies galore and it might be nice to have something less seasonal to sell. I also wanted to test a recipe developed by a chef I truly admire and the sale was a perfect opportunity to do that. I've had Thomas Keller's new book Bouchon Bakery on reserve at the library for a while now and my name finally reached the top of the list. I spent a wonderful evening paging through the book and knew I'd be making these muffins the first chance I got. The bake sale gave me that opportunity. I love recipes like the one I'm featuring tonight. When a recipe calls for 1 cup + 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon of flour, you know you're in the company of genius or dealing with a chef with a borderline obsessive-compulsive disorder. Rest assured, Mr. Keller is a genius. He really wants us to measure ingredients by weight rather than volume, but he's a realist and understands that not everyone has scales, so he uses precise volume measures for equivalency. While pumpkin is an ingredient that we most associate with Thanksgiving, it is available year-round and there is no reason we can't bake with it more often. The Bouchon version of these muffins is baked in Texas-size muffin cups and the frosting is actually piped into, rather than spread over the muffins. That wouldn't work for the bake sale, so I made a couple of small changes to the recipe. I used standard rather than Texas-size muffin cups and that cut baking time in half. I also decided to frost the muffins rather than fill them and that gave me flavor without fuss. I really enjoyed these and I will make them again. They are nicely spiced and the cream cheese icing has a near perfect ratio of cheese to sugar. I hope you will give them a try. Here's the recipe.
Pumpkin Muffins...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite inspired by Thomas Keller
1-1/4 cups + 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 + 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 cup + 3 tablespoons canola oil
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons pure canned pumpkin puree or fresh pumpkin puree
2 large eggs
1/2 cup + 1/2 tablespoon golden raisins
Cream Cheese Frosting
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1)Place flour in a medium bowl. Sift in baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and allspice. Add salt and whisk to combine.
2) Combine sugar and oil in bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment and mix on low speed for about 1 minute. Add pumpkin, increase speed to medium-low, and mix for about 1 minute, until smooth. Reduce speed to low and add eggs in two additions, mixing for about 15 seconds after each, or until just combined.
3) Add dry ingredients in two additions, mixing on low speed for about 15 seconds after each, or until just combined. Remove bowl from mixer stand and scrape bottom of bowl to incorporate any dry ingredients that may have settled there. Fold in raisins, if using. Transfer batter to a covered container and refrigerate overnight, or for up to 36 hours.
4) When ready to proceed, preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a 12-cup standard muffin pan with paper liners and spray the papers with non-stick cooking spray. It is important to spray paper liners.
5) Spoon batter into lined muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full.
6) Put pan in oven, lower oven temperature to 325 degrees F., and bake for 25 to 28 minutes, or until muffins are golden brown and a skewer inserted in center comes out clean. Set pan on a cooling rack and cool completely.
7) Meanwhile, place cream cheese in bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment and mix on low speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl, add sugar, and pulse on lowest speed to combine. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean, add them to mixture, and mix for 2 to 3 minutes, until completely smooth. Frosting can be used at this point or refrigerated for up to 3 days. If it has been refrigerated, let it sit at room temperature until just cool to the touch, then transfer to a mixer fitted with paddle attachment and beat until smooth.
8) When muffins are at room temperature, frost each of them with cream cheese icing and refrigerate briefly to set. Serve at room temperature. Yield: 12 muffins.
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