Sunday, October 28, 2012

Pumpkin Muffins from The Bouchon Bakery Cookbook

The long awaited Bouchon Bakery cookbook is out, and it does not disappoint. Written by Thomas Keller and his acclaimed executive pastry chef Sebastien Rouxel, this 400-page book is big and beautiful, with lots of color photos of luscious baked goods and the two chefs, in relaxed settings, working their magic. This image is in sharp contrast to the precise formality of Keller's kitchens. 

When I was lucky enough to take a tour of the $9,000,000 Per Se kitchen a few years ago, I almost felt like I was in a church or a library; you could hear a pin drop, the staff working efficiently and quietly without the banter that I was accustomed to during my days in professional kitchens. The place was also so spotless you could 

eat off the floor (though that would probably be frowned upon). But back to the book: Bouchon Bakery is full of Keller’s personal anecdotes and memories. He recalls, for example, “I first made cake at my mother’s side. It was a Duncan Hines cake mix, but the frosting was homemade. Just to be with my mother in the kitchen 

was special, since she worked long hours to support us. I loved licking the beaters to get every bit of frosting. Those moments were precious.” The book is divided into chapter on Cookies, Scones & Muffins, Cakes, Tarts, Pâte à Choux, Brioche & Donuts, Puff Pastry & Croissants, Breads, and Confections. There are lots of recipes I 

want to make, but I started with a seasonal one, jumbo Pumpkin Muffins. They were moist, tender and very flavorful, filled with an ultra-creamy and not-too-sweet cream cheese frosting. Just right for a grande snack, Bouchon-style. I heartily recommend the muffins, and this wonderful new book, which is already a best-seller.  

Pumpkin Muffins

Recipe from Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel (Artisan, 2012)

Makes 6 jumbo muffins

1 ¼ cups plus 3 tablespoons (200 g) all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¾ plus 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
Pinch of ground allspice
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (222 g) granulated sugar
¼ cup plus 3 tablespoons (100 g) canola oil
¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons (210 g) pure canned pumpkin puree or fresh pumpkin puree
2 large (100g) eggs
½ cup plus ½ tablespoon (80 g) golden raisins

Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 ounces (226 g) cream cheese, at room temperature
2/3 cup (76 g) confectioners’ sugar
¼ vanilla bean, split lengthwise

For the batter:
1. Place the flour in a medium bowl. Sift in the baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and allspice. Add the salt and whisk to combine.
2. Combine the sugar and oil in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and mix on low speed for about 1 minute. Add the pumpkin, increase the speed to medium-low, and mix for about 1 minute, until smooth. Reduce the speed to low and add the eggs in two additions, mixing for about 15 seconds after each, or until just combined.
3. Add the dry ingredients in two additions, mixing on low speed for about 15 seconds after each, or until just combined. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand and scrape the bottom of the bowl to incorporate any dry ingredients that may have settled there. Fold in the raisins, if using. Trasfer the batter to a covered container and refrigerate overnight, or for up to 36 hours.

To bake the muffins:
4. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a 6-cup jumbo muffin pan with paper liners and spray the papers with non-stick cooking spray.
5. Transfer the batter to a disposable pastry bag and cut ½ inch of the tip from the bag; or use a large spoon. Pipe or spoon the batter into the papers, stopping ½ inch from the top (140 grams in each). 
6. Put the pan in the oven, lower the oven temperature to 325°F, and bake for 45 to 48 minutes, or until the muffins are golden brown and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Set the pan on a cooling rack and cool completely.

To make the frosting:
7. Place the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, add the sugar, and pulse on the lowest speed to combine. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean, add them to the mixture, and mix for 2 to 3 minutes, until completely smooth. The frosting can be used at this point or refrigerated for up to 3 days. If it has been refrigerated, let it sit at room temperature until just cool to the touch, then transfer to a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat until smooth.

To fill the muffins:
8. Using a 1 3/8-inch round pastry cutter, cut through the top of each muffin, stopping ½ inch from the bottom, and carefully remove the center (or use a paring knife to remove the centers).
9. Transfer the frosting to a disposable pastry bag fitted with an Ateco #865 French star tip and fill the cavity of each muffin with frosting. Then pipe a rosette in the center of each muffin. Refrigerate uncovered for about 30 minutes to firm up the frosting.

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