The Best Invention Ever

In the Cook’s Illustrated Holiday Baking issue this year, they share that they “put powdered buttermilk, long a staple of commercial kitchens, to the test in the test kitchen and found it produced baked goods every bit as flavorful as those made with fresh buttermilk.” Wow. They go on to note that Saco’s Buttermilk Blend is the most widely available. You may recall in my posting for Oatmeal Tea Bread in a Jar that I note to put substitutions for buttermilk in your recipe in case your recipient doesn’t have it. Well, Saco wants you to mix the buttermilk powder in with your flour and dry, and then simply substitute water for buttermilk with your liquid. So perfect if you’re making mixes as gift. No separate reconstituting.  Holidays are a great time for home-made brunch and warm pumpkin muffins, fresh from the oven, are a fantastic addition to that brunch. The nod from Cooks had me trying the Sago blend. I’ve ignored it in the stores previously, but this “new to me” ingredient has been making me very happy with my recent baking.


I enjoy the coffee shop pumpkin muffins with cream cheese.  Had checked the web for copycat style recipes and found some folks add sugar or sugar plus egg to the cream cheese. Some leave it as is. Always a fan of simplicity and pure flavors, I decided to try a recipe just adding cream cheese. For my base recipe I started with and Bon Appetit’s Giant Pumpkin Muffins. My changes were to add some spice, skip the candied ginger and use the Saco buttermilk blend. The dry ingredients will exactly fit on one regular mason jar. As always, I bake and thoroughly enjoy test any recipe before gifting it or publishing on my blog.

Bon Appetit’s Giant Pumpkin Muffins adapted to add spice and cream cheese

For a Jar Mix Gift: Stir the spices, salt and baking powder into ¾ cup of the flour. Stir the buttermilk powder into some of the remaining flour and layer your dry ingredients in a quart mason jar. You might have to tap it on the counter a bit to get everything to settle and all the ingredients to fit (they really do with that tapping and settling).

2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 TBL powdered buttermilk blend
1/2 teaspoons  nutmeg
1/2 teaspoons  cinnamon
1/4 teaspoons  cloves
1/4 teaspoons  allspice
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar

Wet Ingredients

1/2 cup canola oil
3 large eggs
1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
½ cup molasses (spray your measuring cup with non-stick
1/2 cup water
Cream cheese (you’ll use less than a package)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Spray 6 giant (1 1/4-cup) muffin cups or 18 standard (1/3-cup) muffin cups with nonstick spray.

Cut cream cheese into little squares about ¾ inch each for each muffin cup.

Using electric mixer, beat eggs 1 at a time into oil in large bowl. Beat in pumpkin, 1/2 cup molasses, and water. Stir in flour mixture until just blended.

Divide batter among prepared muffin cups. Push a cream cheese square down into the batter in each cup. Bake until toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 40 minutes for giant muffins and 30 minutes for standard muffins. Transfer muffins to rack; cool completely.

Consider including the small can of pumpkin and package of cream cheese in your gift. So many folks take time off work over the holidays that ready to bake breakfast/brunch treats are a thoughtful addition to your gift. You can also add the 1/2 cup molasses by using four ounce jam jars filled to the brim.. My relatives and friends have always let me know how quickly they baked up and how much they enjoyed the brunch baskets I’ve included with their gifts in the past.

I have guests often in ski season and when I make this recipe up I always have my own mixing  bowl plus 3 gallon ziplock baggies out so I can do the dry for four batches at once. This makes a deliciously moist flavorful muffin that’s irresistible warm from the oven. If there’s any left, stick em in a ziplock and they’ll be luscious the next day as well.

Stay tuned and I’ll get up a post with some decorating ideas for food gifts I’m posting (you might want to subscribe J ). Labels for this recipe are available to download in this post

For a variation on muffins with glaze and crystallized ginger see

This post is participating in the linky parties noted below.

12 comments on “The Best Invention Ever

  1. great ideas. i have some powdered buttermilk in my cupboard and hadn’t yet found a reason to use it…and now i have plenty of reasons! thank you for sharing with tuesday night supper club.

  2. Allison says:

    Ohhh… Those look so good!
    Thanks for linking up again this week!

  3. Berg4 says:

    Tasty! Definitely a “have-to try” recipe. Thanks for sharing

  4. Hi Maggie! I want to welcome you to the hearth and soul hop and let you know I am now following you via networked blogs! My sister and I are both grown up crafters like you, though she focuses on knitting to test publishers patterns and I am a textile artist focused mostly on tie dye and heliographic dye. It is all so enjoyable! Your recipe looks wonderful, I would change the canola oil to butter though because I dont use polyunsaturated fats. Very nice to have you on the hearth and soul hop and I wish you all the best! Alex@amoderatelife

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Alex – Following back at ya! I’m always happy to follow other blogs that match my interests for recipes, fiber art, crafts and sewing. When baking I often substitute butter for oil (or vice versa) depending on my mood. We have a lot of organic olive growers here and I can pick up locally pressed olive oil in many shops around town (first pressing have a more robust taste, later pressings can give you the milder buttery taste). I never fry anything as I also avoid polyunsaturated fats and figure there are so many things I enjoy without resorting to that artery clogging cooking method, but I will use cold pressed oils in many things. Great to make your acquaintance!

  5. Powdered buttermilk is a great tip! Thanks. And this recipe sounds fabulous. Thanks! jj

  6. girlichef says:

    Hey Maggie…these look totally delicious! And ya know what? I keep that brand of powdered buttermilk on hand for when I don’t have any in the fridge! I think it’s an ingenius invention and it’s saved my butt more than a few times 😉 Thanks for the wonderful recommendation and for sharing this with the hearth and soul hop!

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Heather, yea – I’m probably the last one on the powdered buttermilk bandwagon. Funny as I keep powdered millk on hand always (live in the mountains, dirt road not maintained by the powers that be) and I hate Cremora type products but must have something milky in my coffee. If I’m taking the time to bake, I want it to be tres excellent and hadn’t even considered the buttermilk until the folks at America’s Test Kitchen gave it their nod. But – this is why it’s wonderful to start networking more with foodies like you – if you’d given it a huge nod I’d probably have picked it up to try out of curiosity as well!

  7. Pamela says:

    I bet the muffins make the house smell so cozy. They look yummy. Never would have thought of powdered buttermilk.

  8. Melissa says:

    Ok, yum! Thanks for sharing over at Tuesday Tell All!

  9. Brenda says:

    I have that same issue of Cook’s Illustrated and read that about the powdered buttermilk. Unfortunately I have never seen powdered buttermilk here in Toronto. I guess it’s one of those things I’ll have to pick up in the States the next time I’m there. I love cream cheese in my pumpkin muffins, I buy them at Starbucks all the time in the fall and winter. Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe with Cookbook Sundays!

    • Maggie says:

      There are so many recipes I want to try out in this particular issue – it’s deadly 🙂 Have just been finalizing my shopping list so I’ll be ready.

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