Pumpkin, pecan and pepita muffins: goodness in difficult times

When times are tough we often turn to familiar things that give us comfort and peace. It could be listening to music or walking on the beach at sunset; reading or meditating or praying. For me, cooking is always a haven; I can be creative and nurturing and useful at the same time. All across the world people are facing challenges – through illness or isolation or fatigue or fear or no income, and the loss of what was normal life before. Before the virus, and self-isolation, and ‘social distancing’; lockdowns, and not having enough money or food or medical care for everyone who needs it.

I am immune from the worst challenges people are facing. Aside from needing to work from home, not seeing my friends and family, missing weddings, my husband needing to take his scrubs off at the front door when he gets home from work, and the occasional toilet paper crisis, my life is carrying on pretty much as usual. But it is profoundly unsettling and wearying to be living in the ambiguity of this time – not knowing what will happen next, if more people will become sick and die, and when this time might be over.

I hope that you are able to find something that gives you comfort and peace, and if you cook, like me, this recipe might be something simple and delicious you can make for yourself and your loved ones.


  • 1 3/4 cups self-raising flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup pepitas
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 cup cooked, mashed pumpkin
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs

Preheat oven to 180 C. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases. To make the mashed pumpkin roast at 180 C about 500 g Kent chopped pumpkin (with skin on), drizzled with a little canola oil for about 30 minutes or until soft. When cool enough to handle, scoop the flesh out of the skin and mash with a fork. To make the muffins sift the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and sugar into a medium sized mixing bowl. Add the pecans and mix well. In another bowl whisk together the vegetable oil, milk, mashed pumpkin, maple syrup, vanilla and eggs. Tip the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and combine quickly. Do not over beat of the muffins will be tough. Spoon the mixture evenly into the muffin tin and sprinkle the pepitas on top. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes until the muffins spring back when gently touched with your fingertips. Eat warm or at room temperature on their own, or with butter and a drizzle of honey.