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With all this baking, friends often ask me how I don’t get fat. Breast feeding has certainly helped, but the most common answer is, “I give it all away”. Hubby was searching for baked goodies to pack in his work lunch the other day, and I had to tell him that there were none. In the previous week, I’d made banana muffins – and given them away. Then there was banana bread – that I’d taken to mums group. I’ve been making lots of icy poles, too, but you can’t exactly pack them in your lunch box.

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Clearly, it was time to make some lunchbox snacks. It could have been any number of recipes… such as Muesli Biscuits or Chewy Fruit and Seed Slice, but there was a quick bread recipe I wanted to perfect. It could be said that I’ve filled my quota of muffin recipes here on the blog… Pear, Chocolate and Ginger Muffins, Ham, Corn and Polenta Muffins, Carrot and Pineapple Muffins… the list goes on. But I’ve been working on this recipe for so long now and finally got it just how I want it.

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It’s inspired by a cake I’ve made over the years, that often elicits a bemused response. ‘Pumpkin and Prune Cake’ is a good, old-fashioned fruit cake and has just the consistency I prefer in a cake – quite damp without being heavy. But big cakes need big crowds to be enjoyed properly, so I’ve moved onto muffins. Big cakes also often require a mixer, and we all know how much I love using a mixer (not so much)! So, this is my adapted version of an old favourite, now a one-bowl affair and dairy-free.

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Pumpkin, Orange and Cranberry Spelt Muffins

Makes 16

Ingredients
2 cups wholemeal spelt flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon mixed (pumpkin pie) spice, plus more for sprinkling on top
2/3 cup dried cranberries or other add-ins, as desired (chopped dates and walnuts are also nice)
1/3 cup melted coconut oil
½ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
¼ cup honey or maple syrup
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup pumpkin purée*
1 whole orange, pureed (approximately ¾ cup)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pepitas (pumpkin seeds), for sprinkling on top

Method
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit). Line 16 regular (½-cup) muffins tins with muffin papers. Quarter the orange, remove pithy core and any seeds and process in a blender for 1 minute. If still chunky, scrape down sides and blitz until smooth. Remove any large chunks and set aside.

Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and mixed spice into a large bowl, and then add cranberries/other add-ins. In a separate bowl, beat the oil, sugar and honey together with a whisk. Add eggs, and beat well. Mix in the pumpkin purée and pureed orange, followed by the vanilla extract.

Fold the wet mixture into the flour mixture with a large spoon, stirring just until combined. Divide the batter evenly between the muffin cups, filling ¾ full. Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with a small amount of pepitas, followed by a sprinkle of mixed spice.

Bake muffins for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean. Allow to cool in tins for a few minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Adapted liberally from Cookie and Kate

Notes
*Use a Kent or Japanese pumpkin, Queensland Blue or any pumpkin aside from Butternut squash, which tends to be too watery.

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