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Pumpkin Cranberry-Walnut Muffins plus Bonus Bread

November 21, 2011

Welcome to All-Things-Pumpkin week. We’re lucky enough to be invited to friends this year which is allowing me to focus on two late fall/winter favorites: pumpkin and apples. I almost always go for the actual produce and avoid canned anything. But there is one notable exception: TRADER JOE’S CANNED ORGANIC PUMPKIN.

It’s a 15-oz. can of a little bit of heaven. I love that TJ’s, along with legions of others, but will save that conversation for later. Thanksgiving is Thursday and we don’t have that kind of time. I’ll just focus on pumpkin. Last week I bought the sweetest little Sugar Pumpkin in the Farmer’s Market, baked it and used it to make pumpkin bread, and you know, it just didn’t do it. Texture was a little too fibrous and the taste didn’t have the richness I was expecting. Why mess with a good thing? TJ’s sells their good stuff around this time so just stock up if you’re into it. I think I keep upping my quota by 2-4 cans every year since I made my canned organic pumpkin discovery some time back. Doing my part to bolster the economy…Yes We Can with One Can At A Time. Hmmmm. Interesting possibility for a slogan.

OK. Back to All Things Pumpkin week. I have been thinking about how to combine pumpkin and apples and got together with my friend Linda Larue for a date in the kitchen testing a cake which will be making its appearance here in a couple of days. If you need a delicious dessert that’s not over-the-top rich and can wait until early Thursday, great. Just make sure you have a can of pumpkin (please, no pumpkin pie filling) and three apples in the house (along with other spice-cakey type ingredients). If it’s too short notice, we’ll just save it for next time.

My niece Karen (K-don’t read beyond this point if you  want to be surprised, otherwise you may proceed along with the rest of  the populace) is a pediatric resident in Ohio who is working through Thanksgiving this year. Also working through the weekend is her husband Yoni, who’s an orthopedic surgery resident. They met in their first year of medical school and are married for a year. Isn’t that sweet? Doesn’t that make you want to send them something for the holiday? Like pumpkin-cranberry walnut muffins? I thought so.

Ready for sharing

The following recipe is slightly adapted (less sugar/fat) from a Pumpkin-Nut Bread from (my hero) Christopher Kimball’s Cook’s Illustrated 2007 Holiday Baking Issue.You can do a 9×5 inch loaf by using the following recipe BUT putting it in a pre-heated 350°F oven for 45-55 minutes. You can also get 3-4 mini loaves in 40-44 minutes. Here are the muffins. Happy Thanksgiving!


Makes 16-18 muffins (depending on how high you fill the tins; not to worry, just leave the empty tins blank – I use a 12-muffin tin and a 6-er).


1 c. walnuts, chopped coarse (pecans are good too)
2  c. all-purpose flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
1 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. sea salt
1/2 t. ground nutmeg
1/2 t. ground ginger
1/4 t. ground cloves
1 15-oz. can pumpkin (organic, if you can, not the pumpkin pie mix)
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. canola oil
2 large eggs
1 T. pure vanilla extract (the good stuff)
1/2 c. dried cranberries


TIP: Can substitute 1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour for part of the flour.


Pre-heat oven to 375°F. Generously coat muffin tins with canola oil spray and fill with papers. Spread nuts on baking sheet and toast until fragrant, 4-7 minutes (don’t leave the kitchen… they’ll burn – if you’re in a rush, you can skip this part, I won’t tell). Reserve 1 T. of nuts for topping.

Whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, ginger and cloves together in large bowl. Whisk pumpkin, sugar, oil,eggs and vanilla together in a separate bowl until frothy.

Gently fold pumpkin mixture into flour mixture with rubber spatula until just combined. Fold in cooled nuts (minus 1 T.) and cranberries.

Fill muffin tins to almost full with batter. Sprinkle tops with reserved tablespoon of nuts. Bake for 22-25 minutes, rotating pans halfway through, and until golden and toothpick inserted into centers come out with just a few crumbs attached. Cool in tins for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool a bit more.

AND HERE’S A BONUS BREAD COURTESY OF MY BEST FRIEND LULU IN NY. Thanks, Lulu, for sharing. It’s terrific, has a different technique and is very easy.



1 c. pumpkin
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/2 t. ground cloves
3/4 c. water
1 and 1/2 c. dark brown sugar
1/2 c. canola or safflower oil
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 and 3/4 c. flour
1 t. baking soda
3/4 t. salt


Pre-heat oven to 350°F.

Heat pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves in small saucepan over medium heat on stove until steamy. Stir continuously until pumpkin stiffens and starts to stick to pan, about 3 minutes.

Transfer to medium bowl, whisk in water, then brown sugar, then oil and then eggs, until smooth.

In separate bowl, whisk together remaining dry ingredients, then fold into pumpkin mixture until just combined.

Bake until firm and golden brown, about 70 minutes for a large loaf and 50 minutes for 3 mini loaves. Let stand for a  few minutes. Cool to room temperature. Slice & serve.

P.S. Please check out my ABOUT page. It’s now populated with more in the works.

  1. Cindy permalink

    Way to go Judy! This looks YUUUUMMMM!

  2. Yoni permalink

    These look fantastic!

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