Saturday, December 13, 2008
The weather is finally nippy, the wind carrying winter's snappy chill. I like walking down the street with my coat pulled tight around me, with the sound of crunching leaves beneath my feet. The trees, now barren of once-brilliant foliage, wave their branching forms, both desolate and hauntingly beautiful. The sun engages in a game of hide-and-go-seek, peeking out once in a while to cast its glow over the otherwise darkened days.
I like baking in pajamas and fuzzy slippers, with Regina Spektor and Jason Mraz playing in the background. I surround myself with the flavors of the season and the smell of warming spices. There's pumpkin and cranberries, figs and walnuts, cinnamon and ginger and cloves and nutmeg. It is time to celebrate.
Pumpkin Harvest Muffins
Makes 12-14 muffins
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup unsweetened pumpkin puree
1/4 cup milk+ 1/4 tsp lemon juice (or 1/4 cup buttermilk)
3-4 dried figs, chopped
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup frozen cranberries, chopped
Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.
Beat butter until soft, and add in both sugars. Continue beating until light and smooth. Add the eggs one by one, waiting until the previous one has completely incorporated before adding the next. Add in vanilla, pumpkin puree, and milk. Slowly add in the dry ingredients, mixing only until the dry bits disappear. Using a spatula, fold in figs, walnuts, and cranberries. The batter will be stiff.
Spoon batter into lined muffin cups, an ice cream scope will come in handy. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until a knife come out of the center clean. Transfer to a cooling rack.
Serve warm from the oven or at room temperature, or split and toast them, plain or with butter and jam.