Why It Works
- Blending butter and flour minimizes gluten development, resulting in ultra-tender muffins.
- Thick Greek yogurt keeps the batter stiff, giving each muffin a glorious crown.
- Pumpkin seed streusel adds a burst of nutty flavor, color, and crunch.
Pumpkin spice is one of those things people love or hate (and love to hate), but me? I've got nothing but love. Pumpkin spice is a flavor combo that dates back to the flippin' Age of Enlightenment, so I don't want to hear any flak about it being trendy. Good food is all about celebrating seasonal flavors and traditions, thus I'm all about pumpkin spice in its many forms.
My favorite incarnation by far is the pumpkin spice muffin. For starters, not even cable-knit sweaters can compare to the comforting warmth of a freshly baked muffin on a crisp autumn morning. Now throw in the scent of cinnamon and cloves, the beauty of pumpkin seeds, and a scattering of buttery streusel, and you've got yourself the coziest breakfast in town.
Making the Perfect Pumpkin Spice Muffin
The basic recipe looks a lot like the one for my banana bread, with plenty of Greek yogurt and whole grains to keep the batter thick, but it differs in a few important ways.
Whether you roast your own winter squash or grab a can at the store, pumpkin purée contains more water and less starch than mashed bananas, so the batter doesn't need oil to keep the muffins moist. It can also stand up to a heartier dose of spices, since we're not aiming to enhance the subtleties of pumpkin so much as trying to mimic pie.
Those changes result in fluffier muffins, with a velvety crumb backed by the gentle heat of cinnamon and ginger. Doubling down on the theme of pumpkin spice, I've also topped them with an oatmeal streusel that's loaded with cinnamon and toasted pumpkin seeds.
Even so, with only a tablespoon of butter per muffin, they're not obnoxiously rich, like a cupcake in disguise—you can enjoy one at breakfast or with your afternoon tea and not feel completely bogged down. They're not overly sweet, either; true muffins in every way.
So don't let haters shame you out of enjoying the season's most comforting indulgence, and enjoy every chance to savor pumpkin spice while you can.
For the Streusel:
1 1/2 ounces old-fashioned rolled oats (1/3 cup; 40g), not quick-cooking or instant
1 ounce light brown sugar (2 tablespoons; 30g)
1/2 ounce all-purpose flour (2 tablespoons; 14g)
1/4 ounce ground cinnamon (1 tablespoon; 7g)
1/8 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use half as much
1 ounce unsalted butter (2 tablespoons; 30g)
1 1/2 ounces green pumpkin seeds, raw (heaping 1/4 cup; 40g)
For the Muffins:
6 1/2 ounces whole wheat flour (1 1/3 cups; 185g)
5 1/2 ounces all-purpose flour (1 cup; 155g)
5 1/4 ounces sugar (3/4 cup; 150g)
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon (1/4 ounce; 7g)
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use half as much
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground or grated nutmeg
6 ounces unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks; 170g), soft but cool, about 68°F
8 ounces pumpkin purée, fresh or canned (1 cup; 225g)
4 ounces plain, nonfat Greek yogurt (1/2 cup; 110g; see notes)
2 large eggs, cold
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (1/2 ounce; 14g)
For the Streusel: Combine rolled oats, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt, and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low to form a crumbly meal, then fold in pumpkin seeds by hand. Transfer to a small bowl, cover with plastic, and freeze until needed, up to 1 month.
For the Muffins: Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat to 350°F (175°C). Combine whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cloves, nutmeg, and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (no need to wash after making streusel). Mix on low to form a mealy powder, about 2 minutes. Add pumpkin purée, Greek yogurt, eggs, and vanilla, mixing only until dry ingredients disappear. With a flexible spatula, fold batter once or twice to make sure it's well mixed from the bottom up.
Lightly grease a standard muffin pan. (You can line with muffin papers if desired, but you'll still need to grease the flat part of the pan.) Divide batter evenly between cups, filling each to the brim. Sprinkle generously with streusel, then bake until puffed and firm, about 25 minutes. Cool at least 5 minutes before serving. Store leftovers in an airtight container for about 2 days.
Stand mixer with paddle attachment, standard muffin pan, muffin liners (optional)
Avoid Greek yogurt thickened with gum, gelatin, or pectin. Look for brands that contain only milk and active cultures; this recipe was tested with both Fage and Chobani.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 17g||21%|
|Saturated Fat 9g||45%|
|Total Carbohydrate 43g||16%|
|Dietary Fiber 4g||14%|
|Total Sugars 16g|
|Vitamin C 1mg||4%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|