As we’re all carving our pumpkins this week in hopes they’ll make it to Halloween before they rot or the squirrels get to them, you’ve probably been digging through pumpkin guts and separating out the seeds to make crunchy fall snacks. When you’re done, don’t toss those gooey pumpkin guts — make them into something tasty.
My family isn’t big on pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving (due to our genetic hatred for nutmeg, not to mention the fact that canned pumpkin is a lie), so I’ve started pureeing our Halloween pumpkin guts, freezing some, and using the rest to make pumpkin bread and/or muffins. Here are some of the variations I’ve enjoyed over my years of hosting carving parties.
How to make pumpkin puree
There are many ways to skin a pumpkin. The Food Network recipe calls for a whole pumpkin, and their puree probably tastes great, but we’re aiming to use the jack-0′-lantern leftovers here.
First, make sure you have only pumpkin guts, with no rind or seeds mixed in. After my carvers have scooped out everything and given it to me in big bowls, I typically accomplish this task by hand. (I’m not sure there’s a better way, but if you have one, let me know — it’s messy work.) I keep the seeds, of course, and discard any hard rind. Then I put the guts in either my food processor or blender. Either will produce equally smooth results, so choose whichever appliance you prefer.
Unfortunately, the texture of your puree will vary from pumpkin to pumpkin. Usually, my purees turn out a bit thinner than the canned variety, with a consistency more like applesauce, but you can pat your guts dry a bit with paper or cloth towels before blending if you want thicker puree.
Pumpkin guts bread (and muffins)
You can certainly try modifying your favourite pumpkin bread recipe using your puree as a substitute, but if you want one that’s proven to taste great, here is the one I use to make both bread and muffins.
This recipe makes two loaves or two dozen muffins. You can halve the recipe if you want, but pumpkin bread freezes pretty well.
- 2 cups flour (wheat or white; I often do half and half)
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ¾ cups (1.5 sticks) of unsalted butter, softened
- 2 cups white sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 cups pumpkin puree
- Up to 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips, added during the flour stage. (Make sure to coat the chips in flour so they don’t sink while baking.)
- Spices. My family doesn’t like spices, but you can add one teaspoon each of nutmeg, cinnamon, and/or cloves in any combination before it becomes overpowering even to people who enjoy “pumpkin spice.”
- Preheat your oven to 160°C
- For bread: Grease and flour 2 8×4 loaf pans
- For muffins: line muffin tins
- In a mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients (and chocolate chips if you’re using them)
- In a stand mixer or a separate bowl, stirring by hand or with an electric hand mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy.
- Add eggs one at a time and mix until combined.
- Add vanilla.
- Add pumpkin. The batter will be lumpy.
- Add the dry ingredients. Mix on low until just combined. Do not overmix.
- For bread: I recommend weighing your loaf pans as you add the batter to make sure they’re even, but to the best of your ability, add the batter to both pans evenly. Bake for an hour and then begin checking every 5 minutes. A toothpick or cake tester will come out clean or with a couple of moist crumbs when it’s done. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan and then turn it out onto a wire rack to finish cooling before slicing and enjoying. It’ll fall apart if you cut it too early.
- For muffins: fill the tins about half full. I like using a cookie scoop or ice cream scoop. Bake for 15 minutes and then check every two minutes. A toothpick or cake tester will come out clean or with a couple of moist crumbs when done. Cool for 5-10 minutes in the tins before turning them out onto a wire rack to finish cooling before enjoying. If you try to take off the wrapper before they’re cool, it’ll stick.
Wait a minute
You might look at this list of ingredients and say, “sugar, flour, butter…my goodness, this is cake!” To that I say, a muffin is only a cupcake with better PR. However, if you do need a little fall treat, feel free to make a quick cream cheese frosting (you can call it a “cream cheese spread” if you’re eating it before noon) by combining a stick of butter, a package of cream cheese, a splash of vanilla, a pinch of salt, and as much powdered sugar as needed to make it taste fun, but not too fun.
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