Northern Mummy

General thoughts and wittering about all sorts of things

Pumpkin muffins, revisited

on November 21, 2012

So it’s that time of year again… Thanksgiving is being celebrated tomorrow by Americans around the world.  In honour of the American member of my Bible study group (and because I like the idea of Thanksgiving anyway) I made the same muffins as last year to mark the occasion, only this time in mini form.  I’ve recently become quite keen on mini muffins, for various reasons: firstly, because the ingredients goes further – people rarely eat 3 muffins, which is the approximate equivalent in mixture, so there are more left over for subsequent occasions (or to freeze ready for taking on holiday and then totally forget about, as I did in October); secondly, because when you are dieting and restricted to very occasional high-fat treats, it’s nice to be able to make yourself feel as if you’ve eaten less even when you have eaten 3  join in with what everyone else is having; thirdly, because they are much easier to transport around than normal-sized muffins.

This year, however, things have been a bit more difficult.  After a very hectic few days (the Boy and the Baby have been visiting with their parents over the weekend) I realised that Thanksgiving was this week, not next week, and despatched Southern Daddy on Monday evening to the Special Shop Which Sells Everything to procure a jar of pumpkin.  Remembering last year’s confusion I proudly explained that I knew exactly what he would need to look for, and whereabouts it would be.  He returned empty-handed a short time later bearing the sad news that there is a Pumpkin Shortage in the US and the proprietors had therefore been unable to order their usual supply.

Undeterred, I added a butternut squash to my weekly Tesco order and boiled up a portion of it (helpfully peeled and chopped by SD last night) to mash.  When I’d done this I realised I didn’t quite have a cup of mashed squash so I put a little bit more on to boil whilst I had my breakfast, went off and checked my email, got involved in commenting on someone’s blog and was alerted to potential disaster by the slightly sweet but unpleasant smell drifting through from the kitchen.  I managed to rescue most of the pieces and the singeing didn’t affect the overall flavour of the muffins.

After that, everything went a bit better (my small pan is a little worse for wear, but to be honest the dry-frying required by Rosemary Conley’s low fat recipes has had a detrimental effect on all my cookware recently) and I was very pleased with the results.

My basket of muffins – the very useful and pretty basket is from IKEA and the muffin cases are genuine American (Martha Stewart) ones for the occasion, brought back by my friend in the summer

A cross section! (Sorry about my shaky flash-free photography – someone REALLY needs to get me a tripod for Christmas!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My other baking project of today was to make a birthday cake for a member of the group, whose birthday was on Saturday.  I wanted to make it fairly small as I thought people would prefer the muffins, and I know she is dieting as well, so I found a recipe courtesy of The Baker Chick which in her version is to be baked in an emptied and cleaned tin can (although I gather the original recipe is for 2 cupcakes, which just goes to show how versatile it is!).  I’ve come across fruit cake baked in a tin can before, which, if you fill the tin with mixture (I’m sure there’s a recipe somewhere for the quantities) conveniently makes two mini Christmas cakes ready to sold at a school fair or similar, but I’ve never heard of it with sponge.  I decided, however, that it would be nice to use a large heart-shaped ramekin which I bought one year when I decided to make all Southern Daddy’s food heart-shaped for Valentine’s Day (I know!).

I began combining the ingredients as per the recipe, although I wasn’t sure how much I needed to whisk the egg white and sugar.  In the end I did it with the electric mixer and brought it to the soft-peak stage, so it looked all white and glossy.  It didn’t seem to be wrong but you might not need to do it for that long.  When the batter was made, the ramekin turned out to be just the right size for baking without any overflow (by the way, if you use Cake Release on a stoneware dish your cake will slide out effortlessly on inversion.  Beautiful).

When it was cold, I removed the domed top as directed, fed it to SD to taste it and then sliced it into three equal layers.  With a cake this small this is no problem, as long as you have a knife longer than the diameter of the cake.  I filled the layers with jam and vanilla frosting (left over from the Butterfly’s birthday – I have lots more left but have discovered I’ve gone off it big time during my period of cake-abstinence), added more frosting to the top and decorated with crystallised violets and lustre spray.

 

 

When people arrived for the study it transpired that it’s actually someone else’s birthday today too, so they had to share the cake and Happy Birthday song.  I don’t think anyone minded.

 

Happy Thanksgiving!  This year I’m especially thankful, in the current financial climate, for the luxury of being able to afford to be a full-time parent.  Enjoy the holiday weekend, if you’re fortunate enough to be having one!

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