Monday, October 8, 2012

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

Food photography lesson learnt #1: use natural light.

That was my conclusion a few nights ago after my seventh consecutive rejected photo from Foodgawker and Tastespotting.  This is probably obvious to everyone else out there, but I hadn't realized what a massive difference it made taking a photo of something using natural sunlight and taking a photo of something at night with all the lights on.  Okay, so, I'm an idiot.  (And any photography tips are welcome!)

Well, I may be an idiot in the photography department, but I'm learning.  Hopefully these photos are getting better.  More importantly, though, is that even with amateur photography I can still make some damn good muffins.

It's almost summer here, but staring at the plethora of pumpkin recipes going around food blogs have taken their toll - I missed pumpkin, so I went and bought myself a can of pumpkin puree.  These are pumpkin muffins topped with a cream cheese filling which is, of course, the best part.  The muffin is surprisingly light and delicate but still incredibly moist and filled with all the warm, hearty spices of pumpkin pie.

The cream cheese filling surprised me - it's really just cream cheese beaten together with a tiny amount of icing sugar, but it tastes almost exactly like cream cheese frosting.  Place just a dollop - everything in moderation, after all - on top of each muffin right before it goes into the oven.  It will sink a little into the muffin as it bakes and the final result are muffins that have little snow-capped peaks.  These are wonderful with a cup of hot coffee whether it's spring or fall where you live.

Pumpkin Muffins with Cream Cheese Filling
Adapted from Urban Bush Babes
Makes 12 muffins

Note: About the pumpkin pie spice - I always make my own following this ratio, and I think you should too.  Chances are you've already got all the spices needed on your spice rack!

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup pumpkin puree (canned or fresh)
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg white

3 oz. (85g) cream cheese
1 heaped tbsp icing sugar

Preheat oven to 175C.  Spray muffin tins with nonstick spray, or line with paper liners.  

In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese with an electric mixer until pale and light, about 1 minute.  Beat in icing sugar.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices and salt.  Set aside.

In another bowl, or using your measuring jug, whisk together the rest of the ingredients (pumpkin puree, caster sugar, oil, buttermilk, vanilla, egg and egg white).  Pour the wet into the dry and stir quickly to combine, stopping the moment the dry ingredients are mixed in - do not over mix.  Batter will be lumpy.

Fill muffin cups 3/4 of the way full (a standard sized ice cream scoop is perfect for this job).  Place a small dollop (a little less than a teaspoon) of the cream cheese filling on top of each muffin.  

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.  Let cool on a wire rack and serve.

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