Instead of the typical dark brown heavily spiced pumpkin muffins most people are used to, the famous pastel orange pumpkin muffins from Sarabeth’s Bakery in New York City are more like mini cakes. They’re filled with sweet, chewy raisins and sprinkled with crunchy sunflower seeds for a truly unique finish.
(This recipe was originally published in October 2010, but was updated with new photos and content in 2021).
There are many recipes for pumpkin muffins, but Sarabeth’s pumpkin muffins are truly unique. I’ve never seen or tried anything quite like them. They are more like mini cakes than traditional muffins, and feature a slightly dense texture with mild, delicate flavor.
Sarabeth Levine, proprietor of the Sarabeth’s Bakery empire, has said herself that these muffins helped launch her business into the limelight. If you’d like to add a truly unique pumpkin raisin muffin to your fall and winter muffin repertoire, this recipe is for you!
The recipe in the Sarabeth's Bakery cookbook was a bit flawed in my opinion, as can be the case for any restaurant/bakery cookbook which adapts recipes for home kitchens. It yielded way too much batter for the suggested yield. I have tweaked the recipe to make it work better to yield a dozen posh-looking muffins.
- Pumpkin Puree: While you can theoretically roast your own pumpkin to make puree, canned pumpkin puree is readily available and perfect for the purpose. It provides a reliable and consistent texture. It may also be labeled as solid-pack pumpkin or pure pumpkin. Do not use canned “pumpkin pie filling.” It contains additional ingredients and is not pure pumpkin.
- Spices: These pumpkin raisin muffins featured ground cinnamon, ground ginger, and ground nutmeg.
- Raisins: In my opinion in addition to their unique color and texture, the addition of raisins to these pumpkin muffins is what really sets them apart. Use either golden raisins or dark raisins here.
- Sunflower Seeds: This is the other truly unique addition to these delicate treats. Use hulled unsalted sunflower seeds to add a fun and crunchy topping.
How to make it
Whisk together flour, baking powder, ground cinnamon, ground ginger, ground nutmeg, and salt. Set aside.
Add cold cubes of butter to the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until creamy. Then beat in sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, a little at a time, and then beat in the pumpkin puree.
Next, beat in the flour mixture in thirds, scraping down the sides as needed. Add the raisins and give the batter a final mix until smooth.
Scoop the batter using a 2 ½-inch diameter ice cream scoop. Divide it into 12 greased muffin cups. Top each muffin with about 1 teaspoon sunflower seeds.
Bake the muffins until a tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool for about 10 minutes before removing the pumpkin raisin muffins from the pan.
Unlike many other muffin recipes these pumpkin raisin muffins are baked and served “naked” without paper liners. You could obviously use paper liners if you prefer (in which case don’t bother greasing the pan) but the original bakery muffins bake them without the liners.
These muffins will typically crack a bit on top as they expand. I have baked them for years and they have always behaved this way. Don’t be surprised. They are still delicious!
Check your preconceived notions of what pumpkin muffins are supposed to be at the door. Sarabeth’s pumpkin raisin muffins are quite different from the norm, but definitely worth trying. Their texture is a bit more firm-crumbed and dense, yet they taste light and spongy with a hint of sweetness.
Other recipes from Sarabeth's Bakery you may like
- Buttermilk Pumpkin Spice Waffles
- Sarabeth’s Strawberry Peach Preserves
- Apple Cinnamon Bread
- Apple Cider French Toast with Streusel
- Chocolate Chubbies
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Sarabeth's Bakery Pumpkin Muffins
- 2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into ½-inch cubes
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs at room temperature, beaten
- 1 ½ cups pumpkin puree
- ¾ cup seedless golden or dark raisins
- ¼ cup hulled unsalted sunflower seeds
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Grease a standard muffin pan with softened butter or pan spray.
- Whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt together into a medium bowl.
- Beat the butter in the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on high speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Gradually beat in the sugar and continue beating, scraping the sides of the bowl often with a silicone spatula, until the mixture is very light in color and texture, about 5 minutes.
- Gradually beat in the eggs. Reduce the mixture speed to low. Beat in the pumpkin (he mixture may look curdled).
- In thirds, beat in the flour mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl often, and mix just until smooth. Add the raisins. Increase the speed to high and beat until the batter has a slight sheen, about 15 seconds, no longer.
- Using a heaping 2 ½ inch-diameter ice-cream scoop, portion the batter, rounded side up, into the prepared cups. Sprinkle the tops with about 1 teaspoon sunflower seed per muffin.
- Bake for 22 to 26 minutes or until a tester inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean.
- Cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove the muffins from the pan and cool completely.
- Unlike many other muffin recipes these pumpkin raisin muffins are baked and served “naked” without paper liners. You could obviously use paper liners if you prefer (in which case don’t bother greasing the pan) but the original bakery muffins bake them without the liners.
- These muffins will typically crack a bit on top as they expand. I have baked them for years and they have always behaved this way. Don’t be surprised. They are still delicious!
- Adapted from Sarabeth’s Bakery: From My Hands to Yours
*All nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content will vary with brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes and more.*