In the northern hemisphere this 22nd and 23rd of September marks the official start of Autumn. To welcome the start of Autumn 2010 I have baked a very Autumn treat, Kuri Squash Corn Muffins. The spirit of Autumn is very much alive in these little muffins, from the vibrant colors to the taste and smell. I love Autumn first and foremost because of the vivacious color palette, which can sometimes feel like you are walking in a magical almost fairy tale painting. There is a different kind of smell outside, a crisp and cool breeze that somehow magnifies the beauty of nature changing and getting ready for something else. Taking those long walks to hear and feel the soft crunching of the dying leaves beneath my feet which radiate the most magnificent shades or red, orange and yellow. Then sipping that warming cup of tea after I’ve come back from a long cool walk. I love the feeling of my scarves wrapped around my neck, so soft and cuddly. Here in Prague it seems like Autumn has arrived a little bit early this year, which to be honest even though we had a cool Summer I am not minding at all. My little family has already been out enjoying the sunny Autumn weather with plenty long walks. This weekend my husband and I went out to the city center and we saw some of the trees starting to change colors already. Of course I had my little point and shoot camera with me and I can’t wait to go back out once all of the trees have changed, it will be so beautiful to see.
Two thing that screams Autumn is here are corn on the cob and all of the pumpkin/squash varieties for sale every where. So I thought why not combine the two with some warm spices. I actually didn’t use fresh corn for the muffins but instead used corn flour. I used red Kuri squash which is also know by these names Japanese squash, Orange Hokkaido squash, Baby Red Hubbard squash, and/or Uchiki Kuri squash. This is a round small winter squash that has a bright orange skin and a vibrant yellow, like Turmeric, flesh with thick seeds. It is my first time both tasting and cooking with this squash and I liked it so much that I bought a few. I have already used it in several recipes for us and even cooked it for our little puppy, in case you are wondering he loved it! The taste is a very similar to a chestnut of all things, and it is very easy to cook with because it absorbs spices well. I sliced and roasted the squash then mashed it to use in the muffins, so this is what I advice you to do as well. The extra leftover squash can then be used in any other recipes you like.
Ingredients: (makes 12 small muffins)
1 cup (140 grams) all purpose white flour
11/2 cups (185 grams) medium grain corn flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 tbsp. organic brown sugar ( adjust to taste)
1/2 tsp. salt
4 whole allspice
4 whole cloves
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. ground cardamom
11/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 cup (140 grams) cooked and mashed red kuri squash
1 medium egg
1/3 cup (85 grams) plain white yogurt
3 tbsp. sunflower oil
1/2 cup ( ml) whole milk
1. Preheat oven to 200C or 390F, prepare the muffin molds. Grind the whole allspice and cloves in a mortar and pestle to a fine powder. In a large bowl combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, sugar,salt, ground allspice, ground cloves, ginger, cardamom, and cinnamon. Mix these dry ingredients until well incorporated making sure the spices are well distributed in the flour. Set the bowl aside.
2. In a separate bowl whisk the mashed squash, yogurt, oil and milk until well incorporated. Next beat the egg into the wet ingredients until well incorporated. Make a well in the dry ingredients bowl and gently mix in the wet ingredients. Mix just until the ingredients are incorporated. Fill each muffin molds or paper mold 3/4 full, place in the center of the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until cooked through.