Autumn has always been my very favourite season; in fact, I don’t think I could live in a country that didn’t produce a technicolour autumn.
There’s just something so special about digging out a cosy sweater and taking a long walk to admire the riot of gold and scarlet hues of the changing trees. Coming in from the cold requires hot drinks, and something delicious to eat, and these delicious spiced muffins are the perfect treat. They are super easy, and literally taste like autumn thanks to the addition of pumpkin, and the warming spices and nuts. You can buy pumpkin puree in tins, thanks to our American cousins, but if not available in your supermarket, simply boil prepared cubes of pumpkin or butternut squash (you won’t notice the difference!) until till tender, then blitz in a food processor.
What I absolutely adore abouts muffins, is that they’re completely acceptable to eat at any time of the day, unlike most cakes. These pumpkin ones are especially delicious for breakfast. Simply warm briefly in the oven, and your kitchen will become instantly cosy and full of intoxicating baking aromas, especially welcome on a chilly October morning.
However busy day to day life gets, I urge you take a moment to watch the Autumn wonder that is effortlessly going on around you. Take a deep breath and know that you’re a part of that change, that enriching passing of time. Just a beat taken to acknowledge nature’s last burst of vibrancy will fill you with something great. I leave you with a favourite poem of mine by the late US Poet Mary Oliver who won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. Her work is inspired by nature, rather than the human world, and stems from her lifelong passion for solitary walks in nature. This poem I think embodies Autumn’s reoccurring melancholic miracle.
Autumn Song by Mary Oliver
Don’t you imagine the leaves dream now
how comfortable it will be to touch
the earth instead of the
nothingness of the air and the endless
freshets of wind? And don’t you think
the trees, especially those with
mossy hollows, are beginning to look for
the birds that will come—six, a dozen—to sleep
inside their bodies? And don’t you hear
the goldenrod whispering goodbye,
the everlasting being crowned with the first
tuffets of snow? The pond
stiffens and the white field over which
the fox runs so quickly brings out
its long blue shadows. The wind wags
its many tails. And in the evening
the piled firewood shifts a little,
longing to be on its way.
Autumn Pumpkin Spice MuffinsCourse: DessertDifficulty: Easy
255g Plain Flour
1tsp baking powder
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp salt
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
150g granulated sugar
1 large free-range egg
100ml semi-skimmed milk
100g cooked pureed pumpkin
90ml vegetable oil
50g chopped nuts (reserve a little for topping) – I used pistachios and cashews
- Crunchy Sugar Topping
2 tablespoons of demerara sugar
1 tablespoon of melted butter
More nuts for sprinkling
- Preheat oven to 200c, 180c fan or gas mark 5-6
- In a large bowl sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt, spices and sugar.
- In a separate bowl, beat the egg with the fork, add the milk, oil, honey, and pumpkin puree and stir to combine.
- Pour all of the liquid mix into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined and there aren’t any flour traces visible. On the last few stirs, add the sultanas. Remember a good muffin mix is a lumpy mix!
- Spoon the muffin mixture into the prepared cases, fill over half full to ensure a well risen and full muffin.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes or until the tops spring back, or a toothpick comes out clean.