Two favorites in one.
Everyone loves donuts. Everyone loves muffins. Why not have both in one? Moist pumpkin donut muffins rolled in cinnamon sugar are the best of both worlds: You get the texture and flavor of traditional spiced pumpkin donuts, but baked with the ease of a simple muffin tin to avoid deep-frying messiness or buying special equipment. Think of them as giant donut holes.
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Pros, Cons, and Why This Is a Pumpkin Donut Muffin, Not a Pumpkin Muffin
At first glance, this recipe may seem to lean in the direction of pumpkin bread — it is a spiced pumpkin batter baked in a muffin tin, after all. But the difference becomes clear in the finished product. These pumpkin donut muffins may look like muffins, but they have springy, slightly bready texture of a donut.
It is worth acknowledging the pros and, yes, cons of baking a donut.
Pros. Definitely more ease. Mix a batter, scoop into a greased muffin tin, bake, roll in cinnamon sugar. On the other hand, frying donuts means heating a sizable quantity oil to a fairly precise temperature, frying just a few at a time, draining them on paper towels, rolling in sugar, and then letting all that oil cool before disposing of it.
Cons. There is a slight trade-off in baking a donut instead of frying one. Very fresh, fried cake donuts get that amazing, deeply-colored crust on the exterior — that slightly craggy surface that encases the tender donut inside. Baked donuts do not develop that same crust. But rolling them in cinnamon sugar sure goes a long way toward compensating.
Recipe Notes: Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Donut Muffins
- Roll these in cinnamon sugar while they are warm enough to handle, and definitely before they cool. Do not let them cool on a cooling rack. The warmth and slight condensation from cooling them slightly in the muffin tins will help the cinnamon sugar adhere to the muffins.
- How to make cinnamon sugar: Use 1/2 cup of sugar to 1 rounded teaspoon of ground cinnamon. You will not use all of this, but you will need enough for the muffins to roll around in.
- This recipe makes about one dozen muffins, give or take a couple depending on the size of your muffin tin. You can freeze them easily once baked and cooled. Just skip the cinnamon-sugar step before freezing and roll them in cinnamon sugar once defrosted.
Did you make these Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Donut Muffins? How were they?
Baked Pumpkin Donut Muffins
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- 3 large eggs
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1 15-ounce can pumpkin purée (I like Libby's brand)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a muffin tin. (Do not line with paper muffin cups because you won't be able to roll them all around in cinnamon sugar.)
- Beat the oil, eggs, sugars, pumpkin, salt, and spices until smooth. Scrape the bowl to make sure everything is fully emulsified.
- Add the flour and baking powder and stir just until fully incorporated and smooth.
- Scoop the batter into muffin tins, filling each cup about 3/4 full.
- Bake the donut muffins for about 23 to 25 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean and the top of the muffin springs back.
- As soon as the muffins are cool enough to handle, roll them in a wide-bottomed bowl of cinnamon sugar. Enjoy while still warm.Note: These will keep in an airtight container for two days, though you may need to re-roll the donut muffins in cinnamon sugar.