Recipe Review

These Tender, Sugar-Topped Pumpkin Muffins Taste as Good as They Look

published Oct 6, 2022
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Some of Hummingbird High's pumpkin muffins cooling on rack
Credit: Photo: Julia Gartland; Food Styling: Jessie YuChen

I’ve always enjoyed learning which cookbook recipes turn out to be fan favorites. Had the internet not clued me in, I may have skipped right past Dorie Greenspan’s World Peace cookies from Baking: From My Home to Yours, or Ina Garten’s cauliflower toast from Cook Like a Pro. So when Michelle Lopez of the blog Hummingbird High wrote in a post that the “Choose-Your-Own Pumpkin Spice Bread” was one of the most popular recipes in her book, Weeknight Baking, I immediately wanted to learn more. 

Interestingly, it wasn’t the pumpkin bread itself that she shared on her blog, but rather small-batch pumpkin muffins adapted from the quick bread recipe. The muffins, she said, were light, moist, and fluffy, and tasted like a pumpkin pie. And with their extra-sugary, sky-high domed tops, they certainly looked the part of a recipe showdown winner. But could a recipe yielding just four muffins take home the top prize? I couldn’t wait to find out. 

Credit: Photo: Julia Gartland; Food Styling: Jessie YuChen

How to Make Hummingbird High’s Small Batch Pumpkin Muffins

You’ll begin by heating the oven to 400°F and lining four muffin cups with liners. Michelle recommends this 6-cavity tin, but a standard 12-cavity one works just fine. 

Next, whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together granulated sugar, pumpkin, canola oil, an egg, an egg yolk, and vanilla. Mix the dry into the wet until just combined. The batter will be very loose. 

Fill four of the cavities with 6 tablespoons of batter. The cups will be completely filled, but trust the process! (EDITORS’ NOTE: When we photographed these muffins, our food stylist found that you could get 6 muffins instead of 4 by filling each muffin tin three-quarters full. The tops will be a bit shorter, but they still rise nicely.)

Sprinkle the top of each one with 1 teaspoon granulated sugar. Pour warm water into the empty cavities (this helps the muffins bake evenly), then bake until a skewer comes out with a few crumbs attached. Let the tin cool on a wire rack for five minutes, then transfer the muffins to the rack to cool slightly. 

Credit: Photo: Julia Gartland; Food Styling: Jessie YuChen

My Honest Review of Hummingbird High’s Small-Batch Pumpkin Muffins

It’s always rewarding when homemade baked goods look exactly like the recipe photo, and that’s what happened here. I could have sold these muffins for $5 a piece! Thanks to their sugary domed top and deep gingerbread-like color, they were truly bakery case-worthy. While I was initially worried that 400°F was too hot for muffins, the high temperature definitely helped them achieve their impressive height. 

The best part? The muffins tasted as good as they looked. The crunchy topping gave way to a tender, fluffy, generously spiced muffin. In fact, this recipe called for more cinnamon than the other ones I tried, even though it only made four muffins. I also liked that they weren’t overly sweet, which made the crunchy sugar topping all the more welcome. 

The muffins weren’t quite as moist as I would have liked, so next time I’ll bake them for slightly less time. My only other qualm is the serving size. Even as a two-person household, I don’t mind having extra muffins around to freeze for later or share with friends. Plus, the small yield makes for a few fussy steps: separating an egg and filling the empty muffin tin cavities with water. It also leaves you with a lot of leftover canned pumpkin.

Credit: Photo: Julia Gartland; Food Styling: Jessie YuChen

If You’re Making Hummingbird High’s Pumpkin Muffins, a Few Tips

  1. Start checking the muffins at 20 minutes. The recipe says to bake for 22 to 24 minutes, but I overbaked my first batch slightly. Next time, I’ll check at 20 minutes.
  2. Triple the recipe to make a standard batch of muffins. To make 12 muffins, Michelle says you can triple the recipe and use a full egg instead of three egg yolks. 

Overall rating: 9.5/10

Have you tried Hummingbird High’s Pumpkin Muffins? Let us know in the comments!