On our flight back from Philadelphia two weeks ago, I found myself in a middle seat caught in a conversational crossfire between Lucas and the founder of HotorNot.com at the very moment I’d decided to get some dissertation writing done. If ever there was place to be a fly on the wall. After forcing Lucas to swap seats with me, I threw some instrumental music on my headphones to drown out their animated discussion. Which would have been a solid plan except Explosions in the Sky’s A Song for Our Fathers was the only instrumental song on my iTunes.
So obviously I listened to it on loop for three straight hours. And let me just say: never was I more productive.
My friend Jamie just told a story about her 7-year-old daughter reading a novel while listening to Adventures in Odyssey at the same time. When her Grams asked how she could make sense of both stories at the same time, she simply explained, “Grandma, it’s no problem because my brain has two sides.”
All I’m asking is to be able to put my iTunes library on shuffle on in the background while I work. Meanwhile this kid’s successfully splitting her attention between a book and the radio. Can you IMAGINE how productive you’d be if you had her skills? Instead I’m sitting here listening to A Song for Our Fathers for the
fourth twelfth time in a row since starting my quest to tell you about these pumpkin muffins.
As if mother nature knew I was in a pumpkin spice state of mind, it’s finally feeling like fall around here. The wind is dragging thin branches against my window like fingernails and the sky a dull gray with a hint of a chill in the air. Plus, I have a sore throat which is a clear indication that the weather’s changing. I’m sure I’m jinxing it and it’ll be warm again at a moment’s notice, but for now I’m snuggled up with a scarf, a cat, and a cup of hot tea wishing I could build a fire and dreaming about squash and pomes.
You know when it wasn’t so chilly? When I baked these pumpkin spice muffins last weekend…two times in a row because the first attempt needed tweaks. Hours with the oven on brought the kitchen to a toasty 90°F, but these streusel-topped fall muffins were completely worth the sweat. With all my petty weather complaints, it’s striking me that I live just where I belong – in a climate that fluctuates no more than 30 degrees all year round. Life is good.
Back to the muffins. These pumpkin spice muffins are an updated gluten-free version of the pumpkin pie muffins I made two autumns ago. In addition to the optional flour swap, I lightened them up by replacing some of the sugar with honey and oil with applesauce. Then I added an oat flour streusel and thin drizzle of cinnamon cream cheese glaze to make breakfast feel just a little bit more like dessert.
Whether you’ve been on the fence about the texture of gluten-free baking, or you’re the muscle behind the “I hate muffins” brigade, these pumpkin spice muffins are here to win you over. They’re moist and hearty without being heavy or chewy. The fall spices draw out and highlight the rich pumpkin while the streusel and cream cheese drizzle make it all taste a tad tart and indulgent, but not cloyingly so. I’m going to go ahead and call this the official muffin of fall 2014.
For more pumpkin inspiration, check out these pumpkin recipes from around the web:
Pumpkin Pie Brown Rice Crispy Treats by Snixy Kitchen
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- ⅓ cup oat flour (1½ cups all-purpose flour can be substituted for the first 6 ingredients if not making gluten-free)
- ⅓ cup millet flour
- ⅓ cup white rice flour
- ¼ cup sweet rice flour
- ¼ cup tapioca starch
- ½ teaspoon xanthan gum
- 1½ teaspoons cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2½ tablespoons applesauce
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- ¼ cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ¼ cup oat flour (Note: I grind gluten-free oats in a food processor until fine)
- 1 tablespoon butter, room temperature
- 1 ounce cream cheese, room temperature
- ¼ cup powdered sugar, sifted
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2½ teaspoons non-fat milk
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
- Prepare the streusel topping according to the directions below.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the oat flour, millet flour, rice flour, sweet rice flour, tapioca starch, xanthan gum, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the pumpkin puree, applesauce, vegetable oil, vanilla extract, and eggs. Whisk on medium-low speed until smooth.
- Add the sugar and honey and mix thoroughly to combine.
- Gradually add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture, mixing on low until just thoroughly combined.
- Divide the batter among 12 lined muffin tins, filling each cup about ¾ full.
- Sprinkle the streusel topping on top of each muffin.
- Bake for 26-30 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck in the middle comes out clean.
- Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
- Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl with a fork or with your hands until they are evenly combined and crumbly.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and cream cheese over medium-high speed until smooth and creamy.
- Reduce the speed and gradually add the powdered sugar, beating until thoroughly combined.
- Add the vanilla extract and ground cinnamon, and mix until combined.
- Gradually add the milk in small amounts until the mixture thins into a glaze (adding a teaspoon more milk at a time as needed).
- When the muffins have cooled a bit, drizzle the glaze on top (I used a pastry bag to pipe the glaze, but you could also use a spoon to drizzle it on top).