Gingerbread Meets Pumpkin Pie, in a Muffin

Pumpkin Gingerbread Muffins

Ah, the holiday season: a time of cooler temperatures, hot apple cider, sweets galore and plenty of other indulgent treats. If you find yourself wanting to bake in order to fill your home with the warm aroma of sugar and spices, but don’t have the energy or patience it takes to do a project piece, don’t feel bad. Assembling a bûche de noël or baking and decorating dozens of cookies might have been ambitious undertakings you attempted years ago, but that doesn’t mean simpler projects can’t be as fulfilling or satisfying to the stomach.

If you love the taste of gingerbread and also can’t get enough of anything pumpkin flavored, then the recipe below is tailor-made for you. These pumpkin bran gingerbread muffins live in the special intersection between gingerbread, pumpkin pie and bran muffins. They contain more fiber than the typical holiday spice muffin thanks to the addition of bran flakes cereal (simply soak in hot milk to soften) and whole-wheat flour in the batter. On top of that, the recipe uses monounsaturated fat-rich extra-virgin olive oil in place of saturated fat-laden butter. While these holiday treats are by no means health food, by incorporating better-for-you ingredients, they certainly reduce some of the guilt associated with baked goods this time of year.

These mahogany handheld delights taste remarkably similar to gingerbread cookies, due in large part to the molasses and classic combination of warm spices used. But, instead of a snappy crunch, the textural sensation here is a soft and tender crumb. Canned pumpkin adds another layer of flavor while also contributing much-needed moisture that can be lacking in many bran muffins.

Simple to make? Yes. Basic in taste? No. Whether eaten for breakfast, snack or dessert, these muffins are sure to be the Christmas gift you end up baking for yourself. Plus, they freeze well enough to last you into 2017!

Pumpkin Bran Gingerbread Muffins

Pumpkin puree

Be sure to purchase pure pumpkin purée rather than pumpkin pie mix. If you wish, you may use 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice in lieu of the individual spices. Do not use blackstrap molasses in place of the unsulfured molasses.


2 cups bran flakes cereal

1 cup hot milk

1 cup canned pumpkin

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup unsulfured molasses

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 large egg

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup whole-wheat flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. ground ginger

1/4 tsp. ground cloves

Cooking Instructions

Muffin pan

1. Preheat an oven to 350°F. Line a 12-well muffin pan with paper liners.

2. Place the cereal in a large bowl and pour the milk on top. Let stand until the cereal is mushy and the milk is just warm to the touch, about 15 minutes. Stir in the pumpkin, brown sugar, molasses, oil and egg.

3. In another bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and stir until just combined.

4. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, filling each well just below the rim.

5. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, 20 to 22 minutes. Let cool in the pan 10 minutes, then transfer the muffins to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 12 muffins.