If you’ve been my guest here on Teenie Cakes for any length of time, it’s no secret of how fond I am of muffins, how I’ve had my fair share of obsessions with Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins, and that I adore cheeses.
Last week I received the beautiful and highly anticipated new cookbook, Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented by Matt Lewis & Renato Poliafito, for review by the publisher. Please read more of my initial perception and experience with the cookbook below (after the recipe). I’ll be continuing my review with a series of two additional recipes within the next week.
This recipe for Pumpkin Cheddar Muffins screamed for my immediate attention. Pumpkin and cheddar cheese? Really?
Wow! These are the boss of savory, seasonal pumpkin muffins. If you take a look at the ingredient list, you may be scratching your head trying to make sense of the amount of cayenne and black pepper used, WITH extra sharp cheddar cheese in a pumpkin muffin. This is a keeper of a recipe. Enjoy it any time of the day and it’s sure to get some ooo’s and aaaah’s at your holiday gatherings. It’s moist, has a slight pepper bite with a fantastic textured muffin crown of cheddar and pepitas. I enjoyed it fresh out of the oven and room temperature the next day. When serving fresh out of the oven, pulling them apart reveals cheese goodness. The recipe is straight-forward…it’s a sure thing, and by that mean, it’s packed with unusual but complimentary flavors. It just works!
I was initially concerned that the muffins would be a mess with melted cheddar cheese all over the pan, this was not an issue. I adjusted the baking temperature and time from 400 degrees/20 minutes to 375 degrees/15 minutes. Basically, know your oven and the other variables that need to be accounted for when baking:
- Where your baking rack is set in the oven (if not specified, set to middle);
- the thickness of the baking pan you’re using;
- convection or traditional oven
- I usually end up with over-baked muffins when baking at 400 degrees. I adjusted the temperature on these to 375 degrees and the baking time for 15 minutes.
- Trader Joe’s has 16-ounce bags of raw pepitas for $5.49.
- Used Lite sour cream and it turned out wonderful.
- Used an extra sharp cheddar by Kraft. Matt and Renato suggest using a raw-milk cheddar explaining that they are more nutty and earthy. The sharper the better for these muffins.
- Instead of trying to measure out the cheese by cups, weigh it and use the full 4-ounces
- For muffins, I don’t use baking papers.
source slightly modified from Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented by Matt Lewis & Renato Poliafito
Makes 12 Muffins
1 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin puree
3 tablespoons sour cream
2 large eggs
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 1/4 cups (about 4 ounces) grated sharp cheddar
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
Place oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly spray each cup of a standard 12-cup muffin pan with non-stick spray. Distribute spray evenly, making sure to cover each well.
In a large bowl, whisk together pumpkin and sour cream. Add eggs and butter and whisk until combined.
In another large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cayenne pepper, salt, black pepper, and brown sugar. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into the well, and with a large rubber spatula, fold until just combined. Fold in three-quarters of the cheese.
Evenly divide the batter amongst the muffin cups. Sprinkle remaining cheddar and pumpkin seeds on top of each muffin.
Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown AND a wooden toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let the muffin pan cool on a rack for about 10 minutes before gently removing muffins from pan.
Serve them warm!
Muffins taste best when eaten fresh, but they can be made ahead of time and reheated in oven at 200 degrees.
by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito – Photography by Tina Rupp
I first heard of Matt Lewis and his previous book, Baked: New Frontiers in Baking from the Martha Stewart show when he, with Martha, made Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Cream-Cheese Filling. I had no idea he and Renato Poliafito were about to release their second book this month, until a couple of weeks ago.
Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented is a compilation of 75 recipes consisting of dessert classics, with a “Baked” spin on those recipes and thus adding their own signature on those treasures.
The cookbook is a tribute to beloved American treats and baked goods that have not only been many of our country’s favorite gems, but some emphasis on regional favorites, as well. Five Chapters are laid out as follows:
Chapter 1 – Breakfast (Mom’s Olive Orange Bundt, New York Style Crumb Cake and 12 more)
Chapter 2 – Tarts and Pies (Almond Joy Tart, Whiskey Pear Tart, Sawdust Pie and 9 more)
Chapter 3 – Cookies and Bars (Chocolate Salt-‘N’-Pepper Sandwich Cookies, Cowboy Cookies, Black and White Cookies and 14 more).
Chapter 4 – Cakes (Tomato Soup Cupcakes with Mascarpone Frosting, Caramel Apple Cake and 11 more)
Chapter 5 – Confections and Pastry (Bananas Foster Fritters, Vanilla Bean and Milk Chocolate Budino and 12 more)
There’s also a Kitchen Tools and Equipment Terms and Brand Recommendations section.
Perceptions of the cookbook:
The book is beautifully organized and well laid out, keeping a consistent them throughout the entire book. The 45 or so full-page images/photography by Tina Rupp is absolutely gorgeous and keeps to the theme of exploring new frontiers by incorporating a warm, familiar ambiance, welcoming colors to the sweet treats. Every recipe has a personal head note and if there are additional notes or “Baked Notes” to be shared by the authors, they run consistently alongside the borders of the page next to the recipe’s directions.
I’ve only just begun to try the recipes in this cookbook, but so far – I’m so pleasantly surprised. The Pumpkin Cheddar Cheese Muffins were right on by following the directions. I have two more recipes to share and complete my review of the book. Please join me in the next days while I continue Baked Explorations!