I’ve been on something of a pumpkin muffin kick lately. I blame it on the weather: that kind of unbelievably beautiful, crisp, brightness of early Autumn, when the breezes carry a cooler edge and everyone starts talking about Halloween and Thanksgiving plans and you know this is only a precursor to the dark cold winter but who cares?! Pumpkin things are pretty much the standard obsession in this season, I realize, and there is hardly a shortage of suggestions for how to partake. I just happen to have made a habit of the muffin variety these past couple weeks.
My go-to recipe has been this one from Very Best Baking, mostly because it was the first I clicked on after doing a search for “pumpkin muffin” in a last minute rush getting ready for breakfast at the Inn. And they were delicious so I made another batch for home. And then I made more at the Inn. And then we needed more at home… They are great in the morning for breakfast, and really hit the spot for an afternoon snack with a cup of tea (for best results, share with a small someone with perfectly dimpled fingers).
And then today, there was one muffin left on the counter and half a can of pumpkin puree in the fridge: we clearly needed to restock. So I grabbed the eggs and got whisking. At which point I remembered we’d used the last of the all purpose flour for last night’s pancake supper.
When faced with this situation, there are three choices. The first: Put the eggs and pumpkin in the fridge and postpone muffin making until after the next scheduled shopping trip. Second: Dash out to the nearest shop for flour immediately. Third: improvise.
It is no secret that recipe following is hardly my strongest point. Case in point: I never used the full amount of sugar called for in the original recipe above. Also, having no official pumpkin pie spice mix, I just shake in my own blend (see recipe below) every time. That said, I’ve never been entirely successful with serious substitutions, of which I consider flour to be paramount. But of course that doesn’t stop me from trying, so I took a look in the pantry and did a bit of googling and decided to try oats.
I dumped the oats in the food processor and ground them as fine as they seemed to want to go. Not quite regular flour consistency, but close. We only had quick oats, maybe regular would behave differently. The recipe calls for 3 cups flour, and my oats only made up 2 so I filled in the difference with whole wheat. To balance out the heavier flours, I used 1/2 cup buttermilk in place of the water/orange juice. And I added baking powder in addition to the baking soda.
(You can see that I clearly had no business baking today at all: I didn’t even have muffin liners. The parchment paper technique works just fine though, and is very pretty though a little finicky to fill.)
I had low expectations of these muffins. Not that they would be terrible, more that they would be mediocre and I would eat a few out of obligation and then the rest would linger on the counter until someone finally threw them out.
But obviously, because otherwise what would be the point of this post, these muffins are great. As in, husband declares them better than the original. As in, half eaten by bedtime. As in, I fully expect a string of abject kitchen failures to follow as I replace staple ingredients with reckless abandon.
Oatmeal Buttermilk Pumpkin Muffins
Adapted from Libby’s Pumpkin Muffins on Very Best Baking
1 can pumpkin puree (15oz)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 Tbsp ginger
2 Tbsp cinnamon
2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cloves
1.5 tsp salt
2 cups sugar
2 cups oat flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup buttermilk
Whisk eggs into pumpkin puree until well beaten. Add oil. Whisk in spices, salt, and sugar. Pour flour on top of the mixture. Measure baking powder and baking soda and mix them gently into the flour before whisking everything together. Add buttermilk and whisk until just incorporated, no need to overstir.
Pour into muffin liners or well greased muffin tin.
Turn oven to 350° F and place muffins in cold oven.* Bake 25 minutes or until the tops spring back when lightly pressed.
*I baked my muffins in two batches, so the oven was preheated for the second batch. When the edges of the second batch were ready to come out, some of the centers still seemed under done so I turned the oven off and left the tray in for another 5-7 minutes. That did the trick and they came out great.