Pumpkin Muffins

Pumpkin Muffins with a little butter and fig jam.

There is no doubt that it’s pumpkin season here in northern California. Everywhere you look, there are pumpkin farms and patches and the Half Moon Bay pumpkin Festival is this weekend. Lots of pumpkins, fun and…..traffic. We avoid the festival but we do like to go to the coast and visit some of the pumpkin farms for both eating and ornamental pumpkins, it’s fun and the kids love it. But until then, we can make these pumpkin muffins to satisfy any pumpkin cravings (and as a nod to the Great Pumpkin).

And these are very good muffins, more like pumpkin-spice cupcakes. But that is a good thing, a very good thing. The recipe we use is a riff on Sarabeth Levine’s well-known rpumpkin muffin ecipe from Sarabeth’s Bakery in New York. You can also get the recipe, and many others, in her cookbook “Sarabeth’s Bakery: From My Hands To Yours“. It’s a good cookbook, particularly if you like to bake. The instructions do assume a certain level of skill, but we simplify and clarify the recipe. And the process isn’t hard and you get a very light and tasty muffin with a cake-like texture.

The process is pretty standard muffin-making. Get your muffin tin and cups ready, and preheat the oven. Sift together the dry ingredients, then beat some butter, sugar and eggs together. Add the pumpkin and then slowly add the dry ingredients to the mixture. Then put the batter in the cups, sprinkle on some sugar and bake. When the muffins are ready, cool and then serve.

And these muffins will go quickly. As we noted, the color, texture and flavor are much lighter than your typical dense pumpkin muffins and cakes. The pumpkin flavor is very much in the lead, but with just enough sugar and spice to add some depth. You can serve these muffins for breakfast, but it you want to sneak them in at dessert with some cream cheese frosting we don’t think anyone would mind. These muffins are so good we will make them any time of year, not just pumpkin season. Heck, we may leave a few by the chimney for the Great Pumpkin…;-)

Pumpkin Muffins:

(Adapted from Sarabeth Levine)

Notes Before You Start:

  • You will need a muffin pan for this recipe. You will need to butter the muffin cups, but do NOT put an empty, buttered muffin cup in the hot oven, the butter will burn.
  • Grease the top of your muffin pan so the tops of the muffins don’t stick to the pan.
  • The recipe calls for superfine sugar. If you don’t have it, just process a few cups of sugar in your food processor for about 30 seconds. Presto, superfine sugar.

What You Get: A light, tasty pumpkin muffin with cake-like texture.

What You Need: A muffin pan. A stand mixer is a big help for all baking.

How Long? About forty-five minutes to an hour with fifteen minutes of active time. Anytime dish, if you are an early riser.


(Makes 12 large muffins)

  • Softened sweet butter, for the muffin pan
  • 3 and 2/3 cups pastry flour, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 and 1/3 cups superfine sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature, beaten
  • 1, 15 oz. can or container of solid-pack pumpkin
  • Turbinado or “raw” sugar for sprinkling (optional)


  1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Brush the insides and top of the muffin pan with butter. Butter paper muffin cups, if using.
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt together in a bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat the butter at high-speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Gradually beat in the sugar, scraping down the sides of the bowl a few times, until the mixture is light in color and texture, about 5 minutes. Gradually beat in the eggs until combined.
  4. Reduce the speed of the mixer to low. Beat in the pumpkin until combined. The mixture may look curdled, this is OK. Now, in thirds, add in the flour mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl a few times as you add the mixture. Mix until smooth.
  5. Using a large ice cream scoop or spoon, portion the batter into the muffin cups. Sprinkle the batter with the turbinado sugar, if using. Bake the muffins for 10 minutes. Then reduce the temperature of the oven to 375 degrees and bake for another 15 minutes or until the tops of the muffins are golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean.
  6. Remove the muffins from the oven and cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove the muffins from the pan and cool completely. Serve.

32 thoughts on “Pumpkin Muffins

  1. It’s funny that I actually thought, “Those look really light,” before I read that they were lighter than usual cakes or muffins. I think that’s a huge plus. The color is great too.

    • Thanks- that turned out better than expected, it was a good match…worth trying..

      Fig jam also works all sorts of ways…good stuff..

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    • Can’t be halloween w/out the Great Pumpkin!

      We will admit the fig jam was a gift.. but we will get / share the recipe… But it does go very well with the pumpkin and spice…

  3. That soddy Great Pumpkin, constantly leaving us to our own devices! I think I’ll be mixing these up and using the pumpkin syrup for a spiced pumpkin coffee drink. Is that too much pumpkin? I hope not, I plan on following it up with a cocktail of such.

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  5. We’ve been reading about pumpkins with my 6yo. Now I think we’ll have to make these pumpkin muffins!

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