Messing with Tradition: Pumpkin Spice Muffins w/ Pears

We are not a pumpkin pie family (we are also not a green bean casserole family, just to set the record straight).

There is never a pumpkin pie on our Thanksgiving table (I know, sacrilegious!), and please, if I see mini marshmallows on top of a sweet potato casserole, I may have to leave.

I am more of a modern Thanksgiving gal. I like fresher, newer classics, without so much butter, brown sugar and fat.

You could roast some vegetables, cook a big juicy bird and make a delicious sweet potato gratin, along with a great bread & fruit stuffing and that would be perfect for me.

Why do we need 3 different types of potatoes?
Mashed, sweet, AND roasted (for the picky eater in the corner). Isn't one potato dish enough?
I know, tradition, smission.

Back to the pumpkin post.

I've been told if you make a pumpkin pie, you MUST use CANNED pumpkin, never fresh.
Not sure why, but I will adhere to the pumpkin rules.

I decided to trick the family this year and serve a pumpkin muffin on the buffet, let's see if they notice.

I stuck a sliced pear inside each muffin for some beauty, and instead of the traditional cream cheese frosting, I just left them plain.

Sometimes it's good to mess with tradition.

Martha's Pumpkin Spice Muffins or Cake:

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for pan
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon each allspice and cloves)
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin puree
2 pears of your choice (I used green Anjou)

I found these cute little paper self bakers at Home Goods and couldn't resist, so I baked the cake in these. You don't need a muffin tin and they make a nice presentation, but go ahead and bake it in a cake pan if you don't want individual muffins.

Preheat oven to 350F if baking the cake, 375F if baking muffins. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan or line a muffin tin with 10 muffin paper liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, salt, and spices.

In a large bowl, whisk eggs, sugar, butter, and pumpkin puree until combined. Add dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture, and mix gently until smooth.

Turn batter into prepared pan, and smooth top. I stuck a pear slice in each muffin (I left the peel on, but next time, would remove the peel).

Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, 45 to 50 minutes for a cake. For muffins, bake 20-25 minutes.

Cool cake 10 minutes in pan, then turn out of pan, and cool completely, right side up, on a rack.

If you want to make the original honey cream cheese frosting, here is the recipe.

Happy baking!

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Ciao Chow Linda said…
These looks beautiful Stacey. I love the addition of the pear slice and now I want to get over to Home Goods for some of those little paper containers.
Joanne said…
I DO like pumpkin pie but only if it's dressed up a bit. The traditional stuff - I can take it or leave it. These breads are so CUTE! And would be the idea T-Day dessert.
Oui Chef said…
Wow....look at you, baking up a storm . Bet it feels (and tastes) great!
Foodiewife said…
I still love you, Stace, even though I love everything that you don't about Thanksgiving. Except stuffing. Bleccccccch. I don't touch the stuff. However, I'm always open to messing with tradition, and open to more updated dishes. So, um, I make candied sweet potatoes with bourbon. Does that work for you? Happy Thanksgiving! These cakes would be a fun hostess gift, too.
Anonymous said…
About pumpkin.

Regular old Halloween pumpkin won't work. Apparently there are special (rather small) pumpkins that are best for pie. But there's more. Apparently one bakes, then purees them.

So....Libby has made a fortune with their excellent canned pumpkin, which is a fairly cheap ingredient, readily obtainable. Especially when you consider that it is not that easy to make.

I tried a regular pumpkin once and ended up with a watery tasteless batch of pureed pumpkin. Enough already!

Glad you're back and returning to some kind of normal.

I'm so glad you're back in the kitchen!
I like changing things up for thanksgiving as much as I can without complaints. This year I rebelled, I'm grilling 2 8lb breasts, no one eats the dark meat here anyway! And I always have to add a pasta dish!