Make Ahead

Birthday Pumpkin Muffins

September 30, 2010
5 Ratings
Photo by Ryan Dausch
  • Makes 18
Author Notes

Out of all my personal recipes, this one is "The Recipe I Want To Be Remembered For," because it is so loved by my husband and kids; it has become a ritual that is almost sacred in our house! It probably started 7 or 8 years ago. My husband wasn't going to be home for dinner on his birthday, and this really disappointed my daughter who was maybe seven years old, so we decided to make pumpkin muffins for breakfast that morning. That way he would have something to put a candle in for making a birthday wish. Somehow this became a regular birthday morning event, and we haven't missed a birthday since then - even on hectic weekday mornings we squeeze in this family ritual. I have several loose copies tucked into cookbooks so that the recipe can always be found by whoever needs it. They are not super fancy, and my kids like them "plain" without the nuts or cherries, but they are fairly quick and easy if you prep the night before, by mixing the dry ingredients together (and stored covered on the kitchen counter), and mixing the wet ingredients (and stored covered in the fridge.) The next morning I can whip them up while not quite awake. I sometimes add toasted pecans (or walnuts) and dried cherries. We spread them with plain whipped cream cheese, as "frosting." —Sadassa_Ulna

What You'll Need
  • 2 cups unbleached flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest (or 2 drops orange oil)
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans or walnuts
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Liberally butter muffin tins without paper baking cup liners (or line 18 muffin tins with paper baking cups and spray with unflavored canola oil spray.) Omitting the paper liners and baking the muffin in buttered dark metal tins will give the muffins a nice crunchy crust!
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, mix together the first 7 ingredients.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix wet ingredients together. Add orange zest - if using orange oil be very sparing, two tiny drops goes a long way.
  5. Add wet mixture to dry mixture and stir by hand to until well mixed. Add nuts and berries.
  6. Pour batter into the prepared muffin tins, filling each about 2/3 full.
  7. Bake 20-25 minutes.
  8. Serve with soft whipped cream cheese or your favorite cream cheese frosting. If it's your birthday top with a lit candle and make a wish!

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • ccrfood
  • Rebecca Firkser
    Rebecca Firkser
  • jampot
  • hardlikearmour
  • mrslarkin

Recipe by: Sadassa_Ulna

Growing up I was the world's pickiest eater, that is, until my children were born. Karma. Neither of my parents were much into cooking; it was the height of eating fat-free or anything with oat bran added. I taught myself some basics, mostly baking, following the guidelines of a well-worn copy of Joy of Cooking. I was a ballet dancer and a teacher suggested I lose weight. As I began reading about diet and nutrition I became interested in natural foods, which led to a job at a macrobiotic natural foods market in Center City Philadelphia; this was way before Whole Foods came to the area. I learned a lot about food in general. I ate strictly vegan for a while, although I don't now, but I still like it when a recipe can taste great without butter or bacon! In short, my approach to cooking is idiosyncratic, and I don't know very much about cooking meat or proper technique. I love to bake and I am still working on expanding my palate and my repertoire. The hardest part is getting the whole family to try new things! So aside from my food status, I am an architect who likes to garden and play music. I'm married with two kids, and I hope to get a dog someday.

29 Reviews

ccrfood November 16, 2019
My new favorite pumpkin muffin recipe! I added chopped walnuts and crystalized ginger. Yum!
Rebecca F. September 7, 2015
Made these for breakfast today-- A+!!
mimin October 26, 2014
These are wonderful! I split the batter in half, plain for my kiddos, then for the adult half I used craisins, as I didn't have dried cherries. I also added a little candied ginger. I added a little vanilla and nutmeg to the whipped cream cheese. I will definitely make these again!
Cepta October 7, 2014
Hi we dont have canned pumkin in Ireland so can you tell me what weight of pumpkin would I use and I assume I roast the pumpkin first (using fresh one from the garden)
Sadassa_Ulna October 7, 2014
I love that idea. I would use a .5 - 1 kg pumpkin (1-1/2 to 2 pounds) knowing you might have a little leftover. Really roast it a long time, puree, then drain in two layers of cheesecloth. Canned pumpkin is very condensed, almost like mashed potatoes. Or you could skip the cheesecloth and try this: reduce the amount of milk by half and double the amount of home-cooked pumpkin puree. Thanks for your post!
Katie W. February 22, 2021
Hi Cepta,
If you're in Dublin, I'm sometimes able to find canned pumpkin in the small "American" food section at Donnybrook Fair.
jampot May 1, 2014
These taste wonderful! My kids gobbled them up and they aren't even big pumpkin fans! Love spreading cream cheese on top for a cupcake look. Great recipe, thanks!
Sadassa_Ulna May 1, 2014
Thanks for the comment jampot! I just made two batches in the last 10 days because of my husband's and son's April birthdays. I'm glad you all liked them!
hardlikearmour April 29, 2011
Great story! What a lovely tradition to pass on to your daughter. I bet she'll be making these for her family one day.
mrslarkin April 27, 2011
What a great story! The muffins sound very yummy. Thanks for sharing it with us!
Sadassa_Ulna April 27, 2011
Thank you mrslarkin, that means a lot coming from a pro baker like you!
lapadia April 27, 2011
Great birthday story, great tradition and recipe. Oh, and congrats on shining in the spotlight, too!
Sadassa_Ulna April 27, 2011
Many thanks, frienda!
lapadia April 27, 2011
Midge April 27, 2011
I love your tradition and these sounds really delicious!
Sadassa_Ulna April 27, 2011
Thanks Midge, they're tasty without being too decadent . . . it is breakfast after all!
healthierkitchen April 27, 2011
What a lovely tradition! These sound delicious.
Sadassa_Ulna April 27, 2011
Thank you healthierkitchen, please let me know if you ever try them!
drbabs April 27, 2011
Great story and recipe--what a wonderful family ritual!
Sadassa_Ulna April 27, 2011
Thanks drbabs, this contest is one of my favorites, from reading entries like yours!
gingerroot April 27, 2011
Birthday food rituals are the best! These sound delicious. Thanks for sharing the recipe.
Sadassa_Ulna April 27, 2011
Thanks gingerroot, we will have them on Friday when my son turns 12!
gingerroot April 28, 2011
Early birthday wishes to your son!!
kmartinelli April 27, 2011
Such a nice story and love the recipe! My mother-in-law makes mini pumpkin chocolate chip muffins for everyone's birthday so this really strikes a chord with me!
Sadassa_Ulna April 27, 2011
Chocolate chips sound like a great addition, can you post your MIL's recipe?
AmyKlegs December 6, 2010
these look delicious!
Sadassa_Ulna December 6, 2010
Thank you, we love them, especially with toasted walnuts and cherries or dried cranberries. Its a funny ritual we've been doing for many years now!
xsim57 December 5, 2010
These are fantastic with cream cheese.
peanutbutterjellytime November 15, 2010