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From Kim Rizk, author: Hay Day Country Market Cookbook Workman, 1998
Pumpkin-Raisin Muffins

Savvy mothers sometimes soft-pedal the word "pumpkin." So call these Halloween Muffins if you like, but whatever you call them, they are always a huge success with the sandbox crowd as well as their parents. Serve them for breakfast or tea, with apple butter or with sweet butter or cream cheese blended with a little orange zest.
makes 12 muffins


  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • Three-fourths (firmly packed) light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • Three-fourths pumpkin puree (see above)
  • One-third cup fresh orange juice
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice (see note)
  • Generous one-half cup golden raisins
  • One-half cup walnuts, preferably toasted (see Toasting Nuts below), coarsely chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter 12 muffin cups.

2. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar together in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Blend in the egg, pumpkin puree, and orange juice. (The mixture will appear curdled, but it will pull together once the dry ingredients are added.)

3. In another mixing bowl, stir together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and pumpkin pie spice. Toss in the raisins, separating any clumps, along with the walnuts. Make a well in the center and add the pumpkin mixture. Blend until all the dry ingredients are moistened.

4. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling them three-quarters full, and bake until nicely colored and risen (a toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean), 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, and cool in the muffin cups for 5 minutes. Then turn the muffins out onto a wire rack to cool for a few minutes more before serving.

NOTE: The blend of aromatic spices referred to as pumpkin pie spice traditionally is sold for pies with winter squash, pumpkin, and sweet potatoes. Formulas vary, but you can make your own by combining equal parts of ground nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice, and half as much ground cloves.

Get in the habit of toasting all kinds of nuts; you'll be impressed with the way their rich natural flavor is intensified. To toast, scatter the nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven until lightly colored, crisp, and fragrant - 5 to 7 minutes for pecans, pistachios, almonds, and pine nuts, 10 minutes for walnuts. (Sesame seeds, which are oily and burn quickly, should be toasted in a dry skillet; they'll take 3 minutes - stir often).

Toasting also helps in the process of removing the outer papery skins of some nuts, like walnuts, which can leave behind an unpleasant tannic flavor. Once the nuts are toasted, the skins rub off easily when the nuts are rolled inside a clean kitchen towel.

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