It’s been a couple of months since I’ve taken part in the Breakfast Club blog challenge. There’s no particular reason for this – I can hardly say that I’ve been too busy, and I’ve certainly not stopped eating breakfast or anything ridiculous like that. Perhaps I’ve just been lacking in inspiration a bit… Whatever the reason, I decided to get my act together and get back into the challenge, because it’s always good to keep breakfast interesting! The current challenge is being hosted by Sarah at A little bit of heaven on a plate…, and she has chosen “Stars and Stripes” as the theme.
Now I’d say that the US is pretty big on breakfast, so I felt rather spoilt for choice. To me, the most utterly American breakfast just has to be blueberry pancakes – they just scream USA. But it’s not exactly blueberry season, so I had to come up with something else… We lived in the US for four years when I was little, and for some reason, I always associate pumpkins with the US. Something to do with the whole pumpkin-carving tradition at Halloween perhaps, and enforced by the almost constant presence of pumpkin pie between Halloween and Thanksgiving? Who knows why I associate anything pumpkin-related with the US, but I do. So I thought about making pumpkin pancakes for breakfast. Of course, if I was going to go all-out American, the obvious thing to do would be to use tinned pumpkin (Libby’s, of course), but aside from not having any, I decided that I’d feel a bit silly using tinned pumpkin when it’s actually pumpkin season. I do try to use seasonal ingredients as much as possible, so fresh pumpkin was really the only option. This also means that I could submit this recipe to the Simple and in Season blog event over at Fabulicious Food. So I acquired an adorable little pumpkin and set about roasting it, ready to use in some pumpkin pancakes…
Now, you’ve probably noticed that the photos in this post are quite clearly not pancakes. Not even pancakes gone horribly, horribly wrong. And you’d be correct, because you see, whilst planning my pancakes, I may have gotten ever so slightly distracted by a muffin recipe… A rather delicious-sounding recipe for pumpkin muffins with a surprise layer of cream cheese hidden inside. Luckily, I also consider muffins to be a totally American thing to have for breakfast (although I feel they should be jumbo muffins – unfortunately I don’t have any large muffin moulds or tins, so I just had to make normal-sized ones), so I scrapped the pancake plan and made pumpkin and cream cheese muffins instead. How did they turn out? Delicious! They’re wonderfully moist and have a strong pumpkin flavour which goes beautifully with the surprise cream cheese layer. Basically, they taste like pumpkin pie, but in a muffin. Being muffins, they’re also easy to eat whilst travelling, and I had several of these for breakfast whilst on the bus to St Andrews on Friday morning. They made an excellent start to a wonderful little two-day trip!
Pumpkin & cream cheese muffins
60 ml olive oil
¼ tsp vanilla essence
For the topping:
A few pecan halves (optional)
2 tbsp unrefined granulated sugar
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1. Line a muffin tin with liners or set out silicon liners on a baking tray. Pre-heat the oven to 175°C.
3. Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and spices together into a bowl, and mix together.
4. In a separate bowl, beat together the pumpkin purée, egg, sugar, milk, olive oil and vanilla essence. Once the wet ingredients are well mixed together, stir in the dry ingredients using a metal spoon until just combined.
5. Add about half a tablespoon of pumpkin mixture to each muffin liner (make sure that the mixture covers the bottom but that there is enough left to cover the cream cheese layer). Add a dollop of cream cheese in each liner on top of the pumpkin layer. Split the remaining pumpkin mixture between the liners, making sure to completely cover the cream cheese layer. For the topping, mix the sugar and cinnamon in a small ramekin. Roughly chop the pecans and sprinkle evenly over the muffins, followed by the cinnamon sugar.
6. Bake for 20-25 mins, until golden. Allow to cool in the tin for a few mins before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.