We always have a long wait for fall weather to come and stay here in central Texas, but we’ve had enough cooler mornings of late to get me in the mood to turn on my oven and bake. I’ve also wanted to take advantage of my last few weeks of maternity leave to restock our chest freezer before life really gets crazy. Marriage, motherhood, work, personal time…I know millions of women out there do this juggling act daily, but I’ll be learning how to do so for the first time as a working mother come October 31.
I kicked off my fall-inspired baking spree earlier this month with these Pumpkin Crumb Cake Muffins from Sally’s Baking Addiction. My friend DM introduced me to this blog a while back, and I finally got around to making one of the enticing recipes from it. Despite the worry about how long it might take (I never really know when Mr. Baby will awaken and want to eat, after all), I made all three components–muffin, crumb topping, and icing. I saved time by measuring out the muffin and crumb ingredients at the same time, as there is a lot of overlap on what’s needed. To make these rich muffins slightly more healthy, I substituted whole wheat pastry flour for some of the all-purpose flour and used unsweetened applesauce in place of the oil. My icing turned out much thicker than Sally’s, and it definitely ended up looking globular on top as opposed to her more artistic drizzles. This may have been partly due to the fact that my crumbs spread apart quite a bit during baking, so there were gaps in which the icing pooled. Appearance-wise, my muffins weren’t the prettiest I’ve ever seen. Taste-wise, though, they were worth the effort. These muffins were delicious, even with my substitutions, spreading crumbs, and gloppy icing. They had just the right amount of pumpkin flavor, and I loved the contrast between the moist muffin and the crumbly bits on top. I would highly recommend them as a special breakfast treat or afternoon snack.
For my next baking project, I stuck with muffins (which freeze well and are already individually portioned) and made the Skinnytaste Maple Pecan Banana Muffins. I’ve had wonderful luck with Skinnytaste recipes, and I love Gina’s Skinnytaste Cookbook. I was especially drawn to this recipe because of its lack of refined sugars. My husband, John, doesn’t like his breakfasts super-sweet, and I’ve been trying to watch my sugar intake a bit more closely lately (easier said than done). A maple syrup-sweetened muffin seemed perfect. This time, I followed the recipe exactly. And this time, my muffins looked exactly like the pictures on Gina’s blog. I loved these muffins! While they are not of the BEST MUFFINS EVER caliber, they aren’t trying to be. They are a healthy-but-tasty, everyday kind of muffin, and I will make them again.
Next up were Pumpkin Waffles. I’m a longtime Ellie Krieger fan and own all of her cookbooks. I’ve been trying out a few new recipes from her most recent, You Have It Made, and the pumpkin waffles caught my eye. I rarely make waffles, but every once in a while I get in the mood for them. I liked the healthy aspects to these waffles, which included whole wheat flour, flaxseed meal, and no sugar. I followed the recipe exactly, but I ended up finding them to be a disappointment. There was something off-balance with the pumpkin flavor of these – it was somehow both too much and too little at the same time. The recipe yielded 8 large waffles, so after John and I ate breakfast, I had 6 for the freezer. I’ll eat them up so as not to be wasteful, but I’ll look for another recipe next time I get a hankering for a homemade waffle.
The waffles called for 1 cup of pumpkin puree, so I went looking for a way to use up the rest of the can. I didn’t have to look far, as Ellie Krieger’s Pumpkin Spice Overnight Oats in Jars recipe, also from You Have It Made, sounded worth a try. (I realize this is not a baked goods recipe, but it’s autumnal so I’m writing about it here anyway!) I prepared the oats around lunchtime one day, and we tried them the next morning. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked them! I’ve had hit-or-miss luck with overnight oatmeal recipes in the past, so I was wary when I first opened up my jar to take my first spoonful. But it had just the right amount of sweetness to it, the pumpkin spice flavoring was spot-on, and the add-ins (walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and dried cranberries) added texture and flavor. John wasn’t as big of a fan, as he didn’t like being able to taste the plain yogurt (he hates yogurt on its own unless it’s of the frozen variety). I, however, would make these for myself again! Plus, they are just pretty to look at:
Finally, I made up a batch of The Pioneer Woman’s Maple Oat Nut Scones last week. My mother-in-law first made these during the holidays one year, and since then they’ve been a favorite among the Pierces. When I was needing a baked goods thank-you gift for some of John’s students who kindly cleaned up our yard after some other students toilet-papered it (oh the joys of being married to a high school teacher), I almost immediately thought of these scones. They are decadent and unhealthy, but oh-my-goodness they are delicious. The only change I ever make to this recipe is to divide the dough into 2 balls, which then yields 16 reasonable-sized scones rather than 8 massive ones. They were amazing, as always, and the perfect end to my month of autumn baking.
Happy Fall and Happy Baking to you!