My favorite part of fall is squash. I would argue it’s the most versatile of the autumn produce and I love that it can be used in sweet or savory dishes all season long! Also, if you remember from my previous ranting, I think that pumpkin is overrated and gets a little too much attention during the cooler months. This year, I set out to create a spiced squash muffin, reminiscent of pumpkin bread, that can be enjoyed all season long.
These muffins, like most muffins, are made used the “blending method” of mixing. The blending method is when you mix together wet and dry ingredients separately and then combine them gently, stirring just enough that everything is all mixed and there are no flour streaks left in your batter. The goal of the blending method is to create as little gluten structure as possible, which leaves you with a soft, crumbly end product- perfect for muffins and quick breads. Most often, liquid fats like oil or melted butter are used when implementing the blending method because no creaming or beating of the fat is needed. In this recipe, the squash and olive oil work together as our fat to create a super moist, slightly savory muffin. I also really love pairing herbs and spices with dessert to give complexity and to cut through all the sweetness a cake or muffin might have. The thyme pecan streusel does just that and in my opinion, its the best part of the muffin.
Trader Joe’s carries canned butternut squash, just like canned pumpkin, all year round (!!!) and that’s what I used in these. If you can’t find canned butternut squash, you can definitely roast a fresh butternut squash and scoop out the flesh, but I would blend (or smash) it really well so that it is completely smooth when adding it to the batter. You can also always sub the butternut squash for canned pumpkin if that’s how you’re feeling.
These little guys freeze beautifully and are perfect for early morning breakfasts or on the go snacks and would be great as an easy and festive make-ahead Thanksgiving breakfast.
Recipe: Butternut Squash Muffins with Pecan Thyme Streusel
Yield: 16 muffins
For the muffins:
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 T cinnamon
2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 15 oz butternut squash (TJ)
1 1/2 cups + 1 T sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup olive oil
For the streusel:
1/4 cup oats, toasted
1/4 cup pepitas, toasted and chopped
1/4 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 T flour
2 T sugar
1 T brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
1/2 stick of butter, soft
Toast oats and nuts in a 375 degree oven until fragrant (about 5-7 minutes) and set aside to cool. Grease, or line with muffin liners, and lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, and ground ginger. Set aside.
In another bowl, whisk together squash, eggs, and sugar until smooth. Slowly stream in olive oil, whisking continually. Sprinkle dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and fold in gently.
To make the streusel: Mix together dry ingredients and nuts. Use a spoon or your hands to mix in the butter until everything is combined.
Scoop muffin batter into cups filling them 2/3 of the way full. Sprinkle about 1 T of streusel on the tops of each muffin.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until the muffins spring back when touched or a skewer comes out clean.