Shaker your Muffin Tin…and enjoy the simple sumptuous pleasures of squash muffins

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For many years, we made the annual springtime trek to Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, in Harrodsburg, Kentucky. A favorite family spot to enjoy the well known/well preserved Museum and Inn, formerly, a Shaker Community.

Converted, not as in religion, but in the remains of a religious culture gone by – this compound has been transformed into a museum and an Inn for guests to stay and enjoy this serene environment and learn about the community of Shakers.

At Pleasant Hill, there are fabulous antiques and architecture to admire as well as their impeccable grounds. The Inn and guesthouses are filled with Shaker reproductions to give you the feel of what life was like in the community.

The Shakers (initially known as the Shaking Quakers), or United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing, is a communal religious organization that flourished in America from Maine to Indiana during the 19th century. They came to the United States from England in the hope of religious freedom.

Led by Mother Ann Lee, in 1774, they gained about 5,000 followers. About 20 villages were established where followers found solace, contentment, productivity, and a fervor for God in their cloistered communal settings. The only remaining site with actual Shakers is located in Sabbathday Lake, Maine, and there are believed to be three remaining members of the Shaker community.

The Shaker movement began to decline after the Civil War. The spiritual religious revivals, which brought many converts and adoptees to the Shaker community, lost momentum. Communal communities, where men and women lived a life as brothers and sisters, rather than husbands and wives, began to close in the late 1800s.
The locations remaining, beyond Sabbathday, are all Museums and “historical sites.”

While I have been to the other Shaker communities, my personal favorite remains The Shaker Community at Pleasant Hill, in Kentucky. It may be the memories our family has made there…or maybe, their fabulous Breakfast that is served daily.

In honor of this fascinating community, I’m sharing my version of the Squash Shaker Muffins always served…

Feel free to put your own twist on these – nuts, no nuts, jelly fill, glaze, sprinkle with powdered sugar, frost, add herbs…you get the idea!

Batter with chopped pecans added

Squash muffins without nuts in their tin

Squash muffins without nuts in their tin

Baked squash muffins with nuts - baked

Baked squash muffins with nuts – baked

Baked Squash Muffins ready to eat

Baked Squash Muffins ready to eat

Baked muffins with pecans

Baked muffins with pecans

Robust Ginger Squash Muffins

These dense flavorful muffins are great for breakfast or anytime! A feeling of old-time goodness!

Yield: 18-20 muffins

Ingredients:
1 (15 ounce) can organic pumpkin (squash of your choice canned or fresh cooked and mashed)
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup organic molasses
1/2 cup soft unsalted butter (preferably homemade or Kerrygold)
1 egg, beaten
1 3/4 cup organic flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon freshly grated ginger root (previously timmed, peeled and grated)
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Special Equipment:
Muffin pan(s)
# 16 scoop

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375°F. Place oven rack at middle position. Spray muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream sugar, molasses and butter until fluffy, about 4 minutes; add beaten egg and squash and blend well.
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, soda, and salt; beat this mixture into the squash batter. Fold in freshly grated ginger (and pecans now if adding them), making sure all is well mixed and bowl has been scraped to incorporate all ingredients.

With a #16 scoop, fill sprayed muffin pans with batter (about half full); bake at 375° F. for about 20 minutes or when a toothpick inserted in the muffin comes out clean.
Cook’s Note: rotate the muffin tin halfway through cooking process.

Squash Muffins served with Breakfast

Squash Muffins served with Breakfast

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