I realized that I was pretty cranky when I wrote my previous post. I blame it on my diet. I'm participating in a New Year's weight loss challenge at the office. We're in week 8 right now and even though I'm doing fairly well - there are 20 participants and I am currently in the top 3 overall "losers" - I am constantly dreaming about food. In the beginning I was dreaming about pizza from Flour+Water, but now I am dreaming about dessert.
Being on a diet and living in one of the best food cities in the country has been tough, but I guess dieting is tough no matter where you live. Over the past two months I've learned to adjust my eating habits. I've always had fairly decent habits. I eat lots of vegetables and fruits, very little processed/packaged foods, and 98% of the time my drink of choice is plain water. I always bring my lunch to work and my husband and I only eat dinner out 2 or 3 times a month. But my portion size was out of control and desserts were hard for me to pass up. So instead of changing what I eat, I've just changed how much I eat. Before I put any food in my mouth, I always stop and ask myself if it's worth using my limited daily allotment of calories on it.
I can still have a 4505 Meats cheddar bratwurst when I go to the Ferry Building, but instead of eating the whole thing, I will eat a third of the bratwurst and none of that delicious bread that it comes nestled in. On the bright side, I can have all the sauerkraut I want. And that 4505 sauerkraut is definitely yummy enough to make me almost forget the other two-thirds of the bratwurst. I've survived Chinese New Year celebrations, fried chicken and cream biscuits at Prospect, and a pasta tasting at Perbacco.
You would think that I could make things easier on myself if I stopped baking during the weight loss challenge. But asking me to stop baking is like asking me to stop breathing. I just cannot survive without it. And I have been baking a lot lately. Most of it's been tempting, but not blog worthy. I've been able to resist the florentine cookies and lemon mousse cake I made for the Daring Bakers' challenges as well as the chocolate cake I made for Valentine's Day. I usually take one or two bites of what I make just for quality control purposes. Have you ever had just one bite of chocolate cake? It's really, really hard to stop after just one bite. But I did. And that's how it's been for weeks.
But my resolve is starting to wane. And it's all because of these damned pumpkin donut muffins. Damn the internet for bringing these to my attention. Damn Martha Stewart. Damn. Damn. Damn.
These baked pumpkin donut muffins are so hard to resist. They are insanely good. Baking them in a miniature muffin pan gives them the appearance of donut holes which adds to their appeal. They are moist and spicy with that lovely crackly sugar coating.
One bite and I was hooked. I could not stop at just one bite. One bite turned into 2 into 4 into 10. I ended up eating two whole mini muffins. And, yeah, I know, those calories are not going to hurt me, but in the long run every calorie adds up. I guess it just means that I have to stay on that treadmill a little bit longer.
Although I am now constantly dreaming about these pumpkin donut muffins, they are way too dangerous for me to make again. However, the recipe is too good to keep to myself. So bake 'em at your own risk.
Baked Pumpkin Donut Muffins
(Recipe from Martha Stewart)
10 tablespoons (5 ounces/1.25 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp, plus more for pan
3 cups unbleached all purpose flour, plus more for pan
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/3 cup buttermilk (low fat is okay)
1 1/4 cups pure pumpkin puree (which is not quite the whole 15-ounce can; be sure to use plain pumpkin NOT pumpkin pie mix)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 cup (4 tbsp / 2 ounces / 0.5 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Butter and flour 12 (3.5- to 4- fl oz capacity) wells of a standard muffin tin.
2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and allspice. Set aside dry ingredients.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, pumpkin puree and vanilla. Set aside.
4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, scraping down bowl as necessary.
5. On low speed, add flour mixture in three additions, alternating with two additions of the pumpkin mixture. Mix until everything is just incorporated.
6. Spoon 1/3 cup batter into each muffin well and bake at 350F until a toothpick inserted into center of muffin comes out clean, about 25 to 30 minutes. Let muffins cool 10 minutes in pan on cooling rack.
7. Meanwhile, make your sugary coating. In a medium bowl combine granulated sugar and cinnamon. Working with one at a time, remove muffins from pan; brush all over with melted butter, then coat in the sugar mixture.
[NOTE: Martha says the recipe yields 12 standard (3.5- to 4- fluid ounce capacity wells) muffins, but it definitely makes much more. I got 24 miniature muffins and 10 standard muffins. I baked the miniature muffins at 350F for about 14 minutes. I baked the standard muffins at 350F for about 25 minutes. Since I had more muffins to coat, I had to increase my topping quantities accordingly.]