On a grey Fall morning last week, I drove east of the city, where freeway gives way to farmland, and Mt. Rainier proudly dominates the horizon, winding my way down single lane country roads, in search of a pumpkin patch. I ended up at Spooner Family Farms, where I wandered through rows of orange jack-o-lanterns to be, stocked up on baking pumpkins and butternut squash, and made friends with a few amiable goats.
’Tis that time of year – bring on the pumpkin spice everything!
While the pumpkin spice trend may be a little overdone, sweetly spiced pumpkin baked goods in the Fall will always remind me of home. My mom makes an amaaazing pumpkin bread throughout the holidays (like my Grandma before her), which we always look forward to, and seasonal crazes aside, pumpkin remains one of my very favorite ingredients to cook and bake with during the chillier months.
These pumpkin cornbread muffins are super simple to whip up, and made with ingredients you probably have in your pantry right now, especially if you’re like me and keep canned pumpkin on hand year round.
Remember that shortage a few years ago? Can we be pumpkin doomsday preppers together?
Flavor-wise, pumpkin is a natural fit with cornbread, and makes a great baking ingredient in general, as it keeps muffins (and cakes, donuts, quick breads etc.) incredibly tender and moist – no dry, crumbly cornbread here!
I add brown sugar and warming Fall spices – cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, allspice – which complement and intensify the pumpkin flavor of the cornbread, though not in a cloying, overly sweet way, as many “pumpkin spice” flavored things tend to be.
This cornbread falls somewhere in the middle of the sweet-savory spectrum; sweet enough for breakfast or a light snack, but also pairs nicely with savory dishes, especially alongside hearty soups or chili, and of course on a traditional holiday table.
The simple muffin batter comes together in about ten minutes, followed by twenty minutes of baking, when your kitchen will fill with the delicious aroma of roasted pumpkin, cinnamon, and vanilla. Try these warm from the oven with a generous slather of butter and a drizzle of maple syrup…
- 1 cup yellow cornmeal
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1-1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
- 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice*
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
- 3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
- 3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a 12-cup muffin tin with butter or cooking spray or line with paper muffin cups. Set aside.
- In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.
- In another large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil and pumpkin puree until well-combined. Stir in the brown sugar and vanilla, mixing well. Gently fold the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until just combined. Be careful not to over-mix.
- Use a cookie scoop to divide the batter evenly between the muffin cups. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until the tops are rounded and golden and a cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let rest in the muffin tin for 5 minutes before cooling completely on a baking rack. Serve warm or at room-temperature.
As with most pumpkin (or banana) baked goods, the pumpkin flavor will intensify over time; Will keep for about 3 days in the refrigerator.