During the first few decades of operation at The Fort, the recipe for our pumpkin-walnut muffins was requested by guests on what seemed to be a nightly basis. Generations later, we are sharing the secret ingredient to our favorite bread; it’s all about the pumpkin! These muffins contain nearly twice as much pumpkin as similar recipes, and are cooked for a long time at a low temperature to give them the dense, flavorful texture that guests have come to love.
Historically, pumpkins played a key role in the diets of American Indians and mountain men. The basket makers in Colorado’s Durango and Mesa Verde areas grew them before AD 400. The American Indian diet consisted of corn, beans, and various squashes, including our common pumpkin. When the fur trappers arrived in the region in the early 1800s, pumpkin became a major part of their diets. Mountain men such as Kit Carson, Uncle Dick Wooten and others who frequented the original Bent’s Fort enjoyed pumpkin, and Kit Carson used slices of dried pumpkin as a trade item at Bent’s Fort.
The nutrient-dense pumpkin is packed with vitamin A, fiber, carotenoids, potassium and vitamin C, which assists in keeping one’s heart health, vision and waistline in check – if you enjoy these delicious muffins in moderation, that is.
(makes about two dozen)
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 ¼ cups dry powdered milk
- 2 tablespoons cinnamon
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- ¾ cup chopped walnuts
- 2 large eggs (size does make a difference)
- ¾ cup vegetable oil
- 1 (29-ounce) can pumpkin (not pie filling)
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease two 3-inch muffin tins, or line with paper baking cups. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, powdered milk, cinnamon, salt, brown sugar and walnuts. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, vegetable oil, 2/3 cup water, and the pumpkin. Mix all the ingredients together until just combined. The batter should be easy to scoop. If it is too thick, add a little more water.
Fill the tins three-quarters full, and bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Let the muffins cool before removing them from the pan. Because they are so moist, these reheat beautifully.