Pumpkin Muffins Bakealong: Challenge #2


The gradual fading of summer’s sultry heat signals a happy return to fall. Chilly enough outdoors that lighting the oven isn’t a chore, the weather’s still mild enough for a bountiful harvest of fresh produce — apples and pumpkins in particular.

A sunny autumn day is the perfect occasion for this month’s Bakealong challenge: Inside-Out Pumpkin Muffins.

And an inside-out muffin is … ?

A wonderfully moist, tender muffin filled with sweetened cream cheese — and topped with streusel for good measure. One bite of this muffin will convince you: yes, you need to make these for your family. Or fellow foodies at work. Or the parents at Saturday soccer. These muffins are simply eye-roll, contented-sigh, satisfied-groan good.

September is here! Let’s get started on our Inside-Out Pumpkin Muffins Bakealong challenge.

Pumpkin Muffins Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

This recipe calls for a couple of specialty ingredients, boiled cider and pumpkin pie spice. Each lends its own distinctive flavor; boiled cider also adds moistness.

Don’t fret if you don’t have these; you can use common substitutions. Though honestly, we highly recommend you give these both a try sometime. And if not now — when?

The recipe gives two flour options: unbleached all-purpose, or white whole wheat. I’ll make half the muffins with all-purpose flour and half with whole wheat, so you can see the difference.

First, start preheating your oven to 400°F. For easiest handling, line a standard 12-cup muffin pan with muffin papers, and grease the papers.

We’ll make the streusel first, then the filling, then the muffin batter. That way, you can use the same bowl (no rinsing) for all three — making this an easy one-bowl recipe!

For the streusel topping:

1/2 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour or King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour
1/4 cup light or dark brown sugar (packed)
1/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats or quick oats (not instant)
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter, at firm room temperature

Mix everything together until evenly crumbly.

Pumpkin Muffins Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

That’s streusel made with all-purpose flour on the left, and with white whole wheat on the right. There’s a very slight color difference.

Scrape any remaining streusel crumbs out of your mixing bowl, and make the filling by combining the following:

1 cup (8-ounce package) cream cheese, at room temperature; low-fat is fine
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or a few drops Fiori di Sicilia flavoring, optional

Pumpkin Muffins Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Stir or beat slowly just until combined; a few scattered small lumps are OK. Refrigerate the filling while you make the batter.

Scrape the mixing bowl clean of filling. Using the same bowl, combine the following:

1 cup pumpkin purée (about half a standard 15-ounce can)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup boiled cider (for best flavor), dark corn syrup, or honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice*
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup milk

*Substitute 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon + 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves +  1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, if desired.

Beat until thoroughly combined.

Gently beat in 1 1/2 cups (6 1/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour or King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour (6 ounces). Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and beat briefly to incorporate the scrapings. You’ll have a smooth and fairly liquid batter.

Next, we’re going to scoop a scant 2 tablespoons of batter into each of the muffin cups, followed by the filling, followed by more batter, and then the streusel topping.

Now that’s a lot of seat-of-the-pants division, isn’t it? Do you really need to measure exactly 2 tablespoons batter into each muffin cup? And how do you know what 1/12 of the filling is, or 1/12 of the streusel?

Well, if you bake with a scale, you can weigh the batter, filling, and streusel and do the necessary arithmetic to come up with the weights needed for each individual muffin.

Pumpkin Muffins Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Or you can use a tablespoon cookie scoop, which turns out to be a hugely handy tool for this recipe.

A slightly overfilled tablespoon scoop (shown above) measures a scant 2 tablespoons.

Pumpkin Muffins Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Scoop a scant 2 tablespoons batter into each muffin cup.

Don’t have either a scale or a scoop? Measure 2 tablespoons into the first muffin cup, and eyeball the rest.

Retrieve your filling from the fridge. You’re going to scoop a heaping tablespoon of filling into each cup.

Pumpkin Muffins Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

On the left, a measuring spoon heaped with filling. On the right, a level cookie scoop (a.k.a. heaping tablespoon) of filling.

Pumpkin Muffins Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Drop a scoop of filling into the center of each muffin cup. Another cookie scoop plug: this is a LOT easier with a scoop than a tablespoon, which requires scraping out after each muffin.

Cover the filling with another 2 tablespoons batter; the muffin cups will be quite full.

Pumpkin Muffins Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Well, there’s that helpful tablespoon cookie scoop again! A heaping tablespoon scoop of streusel topping is the perfect amount for each muffin.

Pumpkin Muffins Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Once I top these last two, the muffins will be ready to go into the oven.

Bake the muffins for 18 to 20 minutes, until a cake tester or toothpick inserted toward the edge (not into the filling) comes out crumb-free.

Pumpkin Muffins Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Remove the muffins from the oven. As soon as they’re cool enough to safely handle, transfer them to a rack to cool completely.

The four muffins on the left are 100% whole wheat; the two on the right, 100% all-purpose flour. You can still see a very slight difference in streusel color — but not enough to alert anyone that these are whole wheat, right?

Pumpkin Muffins Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

And how about inside? 100% whole wheat on the left, all-purpose flour on the right. Do you see a color difference? I don’t. And I couldn’t detect any flavor or texture difference, either.

If ever there was an easy way to introduce reluctant whole-grain eaters to the miracle of white whole wheat flour, these moist, tender, totally yummy Inside-Out Pumpkin Muffins are it!

Pumpkin Muffins Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Inside-Out Pumpkin Muffin tips

  • For best release, use muffin papers, and spray them with nonstick vegetable oil spray before filling with batter. For more, see our blog post, How to use cupcake and muffin papers.
  • A tablespoon cookie scoop is your best friend here. Use a heaping scoop for the 2 tablespoons batter; a level scoop for the filling; and a slightly heaped scoop for the streusel topping.
  • Worried about your potholder damaging a fragile, just-baked muffin while you’re pulling them out of the oven? For easiest handling, set the muffin pan on a baking sheet before putting both pans into the oven.
  • “Division by eyeballing” is a thing of the past when you use a scale. Weigh your batter: divide by 12, and that’s how much batter you’ll use for each muffin (half underneath the filling, half atop the filling). Ditto the filling and streusel. 
  • Baking gluten-free? Try this recipe using our new gluten-free Measure for Measure flour. Or make our Gluten-Free Pumpkin Muffins, adding filling and streusel topping (made with gluten-free flour); your yield may be more than 12 muffins.
  • These muffins are equally good made with all-purpose flour or King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour. If you’re looking to increase the fiber in your diet, try the whole wheat version.
  • Want to make this recipe dairy-free? Use non-dairy milk in the batter; coconut oil or margarine in the topping, and vegan (non-dairy) cream cheese in the filling.

Are you ready to make Inside-Out Pumpkin Muffins and join our Bakealong challenge? Print the recipe.

Interested in more? See our complete collection of Bakealong recipes.

PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!


  1. Tom O

    A great way to start off autumn because these babies scream autumn! The pumpkin and the boiled cider and the cream cheese and the streusel topping…are you kidding me right now???? SHAZAAM!!!

    As I made these for a dinner party and was totally trying to show off, I used paper tulip baking cups (the fancy paper ones you only see in fancy bakeries). I got twelve for about three bucks which I personally think was worth the extra “wow” factor. You won’t miss that extra dollar or two while relishing in the glow of glory as everyone walks passed snarky Aunt Petunia’s “Generic vanilla cupcakes from a box, topped with three inches of shame that makes you feel like your one bite closer to a dentist appointment, but hey…at least it has fun sprinkles on top” to get to your gorgeous, delicious and unique homemade mini-cakes made with love!

    Words of note:
    Don’t let there being three different parts to make scare you. They are all amazingly easy and as long as you get the butter and cream cheese to mostly room temperature, you shouldn’t even need to bust out the mixer. I just used a fork and it came out perfect.
    I misread the instructions and put two tablespoons of batter below the filling which only left me with one tablespoon for on top. Make sure not to do this. One good size tablespoon on the bottom and two tablespoons on top. It worked out fine for me, but I’d of much rather preferred one on the bottom and two on top than the other way around.
    I made the cream cheese filling first so I could get it in the fridge while I made the rest. Having the filling chilled made scooping it into the cups much more manageable.
    I’m not sure how important the boiled cider is compared to like a honey or the dark corn syrup (as I have only made these once) but as the boiled cider can be made days ahead of time, is outrageously easy and makes the whole house smell like an apple orchard…I highly recommend it!

    Thanks King Arthur Flour and thanks PJ for the great article! Can’t wait to ruin snarky Aunt Linda’s day again at the next family function!!!!

  2. Lindsay

    Is the boiled cider/honey/molasses a must ingredient? Looking to adapt these for sugar free enjoyment. Could I sub sugar free maple syrup?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We haven’t tested it, Lindsay, but we say go for it an experiment using the sugar-free maple syrup. Happy experimenting! Annabelle@KAF

  3. Eileen

    Can these muffins be made ahead and frozen? Will the filling be altered by freezing, or make the muffin mushy once defrosted?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      You bet, Eileen. You can freeze the muffins, well-wrapped, up to 3 weeks. Rewarm cold muffins in a preheated 350°F oven, tented with foil. Or heat briefly in a microwave set at low power. Enjoy! Kye@KAF

  4. V English

    I realize the idea here is to purchase the boiled cider, but if limited resources, here’s a sight that walks one through making own….
    Thinking great addition to a apple bread glaze?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We love making boiled cider glazes and drizzling it over practically any baked good. It would certainly make a regular loaf of bread more elegant and exciting. You can use this recipe for Boiled Cider Glaze if you’re looking for something substantial and creamy, or you can use the simple glaze that’s included in our recipe for Maple-Apple Turnovers that uses boiled cider for an extra punch of flavor. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We didn’t forget about the gluten-free bakers, Linda! There’s a tip in the blog and recipe — you can use Measure for Measure Flour without making any other changes. Enjoy! Kye@KAF

  5. Krissy Barry

    Loved all the flavors here, but I had some technical trouble. I wish I could post a picture, but my muffins sank in top after coming out of the oven. How do I keep them from doing that? What made them sink?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Krissy, we have a Baker’s Hotline for baking emergencies like this! We hope you’ll consider giving us a call at 855-371-BAKE(2253) so we can hear a bit more about your method and do some troubleshooting. Typically sunken muffins are a culprit of too much liquid, the incorrect (or ineffective) leavener, or another ingredient substitution. We hope to hear from you to help make the muffins look just as beautiful as they are tasty. Kye@KAF

    2. Taryn

      I had the same problem…about half have sunk in the middle since I took them out about 5 minutes ago. I made no substitutions, other than using a different brand of flour. I used the honey option as I didn’t have boiled cider. I double checked the recipe and I definitely used the correct types and amounts of leaveners. I’m sure they’ll taste good, just not as pretty as I thought they’d be.

    3. The Baker's Hotline

      We encourage you to try making this recipe again using King Arthur All-Purpose Flour for best results. Our flour has a higher protein content than most other brands, which means your baked goods maintain a better structure and overall texture than they would if made with another kind of flour. We hope you give these Pumpkin Muffins another shot soon! Kye@KAF

    4. HG

      Sadly I had the same problem. The muffins sank in on the top, and they don’t have a great texture on the bottom. I used King Arthur All-Purpose flour. Great taste though!

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