Pumpkin Muffins with Spiced Icing

October really is the best month of the year. The summer heat is dying down, the mornings are chilly, and so sweater weather is finally upon us. Midterm madness is threatening the sanity of students… Pumpkins are in season, apple picking is in full swing, and bonfires are enjoyably toasty. And of course, we can’t forget the amazingness that is autumn baking.

Pumpkins at Och’s Orchard in Warwick, NY.

Pumpkin spiced, apple spiced, chai spiced…ALLLL the spices are welcome in October! So I bring you an autumn classic: pumpkin muffins!

These are ultra moist and soft with a blast of all the classic spices. It’s oil-based, rather than butter based, which I‘ve found to be the key to deliciously moist baked goods. We all love butter, but sometimes it just doesn’t lock in the moisture we want. Using canned pumpkin also brings flavorful moisture to the table. This recipe is very similar to my pumpkin cupcakes recipe, but there are a three key differences.

One, there is less sugar in the muffin version. So they’re definitely healthier (wink wink, you’re welcome). Two, the method. Cupcakes are usually made by creaming the fat and sugar together; muffins, on the other hand, usually require the wet and dry ingredients to be mixed separately, then gently combined. The creaming of butter and sugar in the cake method lends to light and airy cakes, while the muffin method creates a chewier texture. Third, the topping. We all recognize cupcakes by billowy piped buttercream, and muffins are often topped with a glaze or streusel (or both, cause why not???)

I mean, just look at the texture! The signature “muffin top” chewiness owes all it’s deliciousness to the muffin mixing method.

Now for the icing, which is most definitely not optional. I like thick, drippy icing that slightly hardens as it sits. Not exactly like royal icing on cookies, but along a similar line. My muffin icing is just three ingredients: heavy cream, powdered sugar, and flavoring. The options are endless here. Flavorings can be anything, including extracts, real fruit juice, emulsions, and spices. Here we use the classic pumpkin spice mix. If you have a pre-made pumpkin spice mix, then by all means use that. If not, don’t worry. I’ve outlined the spices below.


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