The pumpkin corn kugel was delicious, but dense like pumpkin pie instead of fluffy like carrot kugel. Wondering how it would taste if it were cake-ier, I decided to combine the kugel recipe with the pumpkin cake, pumpkin challah, and Homestead Cornbread recipes to make a pumpkin corn muffin.
I took the cornbread recipe, cut it down by a third, and swapped in 1 cup of pumpkin puree for 2/3 cup of the soy milk. I added in some of the spices from the other pumpkin recipes (cinnamon, ginger, allspice) and changed the sweetener from all white sugar to almost equal amounts of dark brown sugar, white sugar, and honey. For an extra hit of color, texture, and flavor, I added in dried cranberries and golden raisins.
After coming up with a recipe, I quickly checked Allrecipes to see if anyone else had tried to make pumpkin cornbread or pumpkin corn muffins. There was a recipe for pumpkin cornbread and a recipe from Libby’s that looked a lot like my test recipe, but without the spices and with an extra egg. That was good. I added in an extra egg to my recipe. But the Libby’s recipe got mixed reviews. Not so good. The complaints were that the muffins were bland. Reviewers for the pumpkin cornbread also complained of blandness and insufficient sweeteness. Hoping that the spices and sweeteners I added in would compensate, I forged ahead.
The muffins were excellent. I think more spice might have been better, but I’m not sure. I will need to taste them again later. The color was nice, they were moist. They were sweet without being cloying, and there was just enough salt.
I’m not sure about the dried cranberries. They were tasty and pretty, but they definitely slant the muffins towards dessert and away from being useful as a dinnertime bread item. One allrecipe poster served her pumpkin corn muffins with chili–that is a smart idea. If I do go with the dried fruit again, I might add more, and I might add chopped pecans.
Note: The pumpkin effect is subtle, even with spices added in to highlight it. Mom’s comment: “Yum! Is that a dried cranberry?! Mmmm. These are pumpkin? Really?”
Pumpkin Corn Muffins
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup vanilla soy milk
3/4 cup canned 100% pure pumpkin
2 large eggs
3 Tbl. sugar
3 Tbl. dark brown sugar
2 Tbl. honey
1/3 cup corn or safflower oil
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ginger
2 tsp. baking powder
2/3 – 1 tsp. kosher salt (1/2 tsp. regular table salt)
1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup dried cranberries (optional)
1/3 cup golden raisins (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line muffin cups with foil liners (or use paper liner, or grease the pans). The yield should be about 1 1/2 dozen muffins, so you will need three pans with 6 cups or the equivalent.
Combine the cornmeal and soy milk in a medium sized bowl, and let the mixture soak for five minutes. Add in the pumpkin puree, eggs, sugar, dark brown sugar, honey, and oil.
Combine the dry ingredients (flour, spices, baking powder, and salt). Stir the flour mixture into the pumpkin cornmeal mixture. Stir in the raisins, if using.
Divide the batter between the lined muffin cups and bake for about 20 minutes.
yield: 16 to 18 muffins
Update: After a day the muffins tasted a bit drier than I would like, which could be for the following reasons:
(1) Okay, they are a day old. But the Homestead Cornbread stays moist and fresh for a couple of days.
(2) Maybe I miscalculated the substitution of pumpkin for soy milk. Maybe I should add another 1/4 cup of soy milk to the recipe.
(3) Maybe I baked the muffins too long. Maybe I should reduce the cooking time by five minutes.
(4) Maybe corn muffins just get drier than cornbread baked in pan because more surface area is exposed. Maybe I should try to make this recipe in pan instead of as muffins.
Another issue is that the muffins do not taste very pumpkin-ey. This is more obvious after a day of aging. Maybe the solution is to up the spices. Maybe it is primarily the spices, combined with the color, that causes people to think “pumpkin.”
On the other hand, maybe this isn’t a problem at all. I originally made the Homestead Cornbread because my husband raved about the cornbread at Smokey Joe’s (Teaneck, NJ). The Homestead Cornbread is much lighter in color and texture than the Smokey Joe’s cornbread, but the Homestead Cornbread was universally judged superior by family and friends. The pumpkin cornbread tastes just like the Smokey Joe’s cornbread, confirming my suspicion that Smokey Joe’s uses dark brown sugar or honey as a sweetener. Now I am actually wondering if they use pumpkin, too. But, no, that can’t be. All I have to do to make the pumpkin cornbread taste precisely like the Smokey Joe’s version is to add in drained corn niblets instead of the raisins and dried cranberries.
Update two: I realize that I used only 3/4 cup pumpkin mixture (I corrected the above recipe, which originally called for 1 cup of pumpkin). I tried this recipe again with an extra 1/4 cup of liquid and with the drained corn niblets. Instead of using muffin cups, I baked it in a baking pan. Not good! Dense, gummy, and bland.