Vegan Pumpkin Muffins (with a surprise centre)

Perfect pumpkin muffins

These vegan spiced pumpkin muffins have a secret creamy-mapley centre and are a guaranteed child-pleaser (my kids love them!). The perfect snack with a cup of hot tea after a bracing walk.

Nothing says ‘Autumn’ like pumpkin spice, that aromatic blend of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger – and sometimes allspice and citrus.

Pick your own pumpkin

On Halloween morning, we popped over to our local pumpkin patch near Fordingbridge, Hampshire, and went a-pickin’. What a lovely thing to do with the kids at Autumn half term!

Half a wheelbarrow full of pumpkins later, we’re driving back home and I am wondering what on earth we’re going to do with them all. No problem, say the kids: pumpkin pie muffins! So here we go…

My girls picking pumpkins

First, roast your pumpkin.

Seems faffy but really isn’t. Simply slice in half, scrape out the seeds and roast for 45 minutes at 170C/340F. Leave to cool, then mash – and you have your very own pumpkin puree. Or substitute roast butternut squash or tinned pumpkin puree if that’s what you have to hand.

Roasted pumpkin slices
Roasted pumpkin – just mash for fresh pumpkin puree

I have made puree from carving pumpkins in previous years – the flesh is thinner than ‘normal’ pumpkins, but edible and it always seems such a waste to chuck in on the compost after Halloween. Best to check carefully for candle wax, though… 🙂

Then, spice up your pumpkin

Even if you’re unfamiliar with pumpkin pie spice, the name gives it away – it’s a blend traditionally used in the US in pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving – and for various Autumn foodie treats. It’s a bit like our traditional mixed spice but with more cinnamon and less clove.

For me, it reminds me of Autumn trips to the US and the beautiful colours of New England woodland and my American friends celebrating Thanksgiving…

Kancamagus Pass, New Hampshire. Photo by Yoav Hornung on Unsplash

Where can I get authentic pumpkin pie spice?

I love Trader Joe’s pumpkin pie spice, but we can get hold of pumpkin spice here in the UK – on Amazon UK and many other websites.

Or you can make your own: try a mix of mostly cinnamon, with a little ground ginger, ground nutmeg and allspice. It’s going to taste great, whatever!

Powdered cinnamon
It’s spicy, no?
Photo by LuĂ­sa Schetinger on Unsplash

Food intolerance-friendly muffins

Always mindful of avoiding gluten for those with digestive issues and the ‘leaky gut‘ [not as icky as it sounds – click the link to learn more] that usually goes with this, I have used gluten-free self-raising flour (from the Doves Farm/ Freee brand, which is specially formulated to be a successful, direct substitute for wheat flour – and works pretty well in my experience). You could, of course, use organic self-raising (self-rising) wheat flour if you can tolerate it (although it is higher in FODMAPs), which will work just as well.

Ingredients: 'Secret surprise' centre

Jar of Lovenutty White Almond Butter
LOVENUTTY White Almond butter – SUCH a versatile ingredient!

Ingredients: Dry Ingredients

  • 300g self-raising flour (gluten-free or wheat, if tolerated)
  • 200g brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin spice
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans (roasted or raw – it doesn’t matter, but toasted have have edge)
  • 1/2 tsp pink Himalayan salt

Ingredients: Wet ingredients

  • 100g coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tbsp ground flax mixed with 3 tbsp water (flax ‘egg’)
  • 180g pumpkin puree (use tinned or roast your own)
  • 200ml plant milk of choice – plus extra if required to make a thick, pourable batter

Directions

  1. Oven on at 170C/340F. 
  2. Weigh coconut oil in glass bowl and place in oven to melt.
  3. Fill muffin moulds with reusable silicone or paper muffin cases.
  4. Make your ‘surprise’ centre: place all ingredients in a small bowl and mix together thoroughly.
  5. Next, make the muffin batter.  Start by mixing dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  6. Mix remaining wet ingredients in with melted coconut oil.
  7. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix thoroughly with a spatula, scraping down the sides and ensuring all the flour from the bottom of the bowl is incorporated.
  8. Then, using an ice-cream scoop (or a large dessert spoon), half-fill the muffin cases.
  9. Using a teaspoon, place a generous dollop of maple-nut butter mix in the centre of each half-filled muffin case, and top with another dollop of muffin batter.
  10. Sprinkle extra sugar on top – this gives a crispy, caramelly top to the muffins.
  11. Bake in the oven at 170C for around 30 minutes. I gently press the top, and if it feels firm, your muffins are probably cooked through. If you’ve been extra generous with the batter and your muffins are on the larger side, it might take an extra 10 minutes until they are fully cooked.

Oven-ready muffins!

You can enjoy these muffins warm from the oven with a mug of hot coffee or homemade turmeric latte, or topped with ice cream or natural almond yoghurt.

Photo by Mink Mingle on Unsplash

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