The fall season brings with it a cozy array of flavors and none so iconic as pumpkin. With the markets brimming with pumpkin-inspired products, Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Bread & Muffin Mix stands out, promising a warm, aromatic baking experience. I recently tried my hand at this mix, and here’s a detailed account of the making and tasting process.
This is another one of those seasonal products that Trader Joe’s introduces in September every year.
I am losing track of how many Pumpkin inspired items there are. I promise I’ll stop reviewing them in a couple of weeks and it will be time to move on to some of the other new items I picked up on a recent shopping trip.
In between the time I bought the mix and when I made it, my wife had bought the kids some pumpkin bread at the local Starbucks for a treat one day. They went nuts and so we broke out the Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Bread mix and I made it last Sunday morning for breakfast.
The packaging is quintessentially Trader Joe’s: clean, clear, and with a dash of whimsy. The charming illustrations of pumpkins and breads evoke a sense of comfort and nostalgia. The directions at the back are straightforward, making it an easy pick for both novices and baking aficionados. A quick scan of the ingredient list reassures one of the absence of any artificial preservatives or flavors.
Obviously, this is a more involved product than your regular “pop it in the microwave” type of thing that Trader Joe’s makes so often. Not quite from scratch either, but pretty darn close.
Basically, what you get in the box is the dried mix which you have to add water, oil, and some eggs to the mix. Lightly mix it up and then either put it in a loaf pan or a cupcake pan.
We opted for the cupcakes! It says to only fill up the cupcake holder things about 2/3 full, but based on how much “lift” we got out of these things, I would say you could almost fill them to the brim.
So we mixed everything up and the kids even helped out filling up the cupcake pan and then we popped them in the oven. They were supposed to finish baking in about 18 minutes but it ended up taking more than 20 minutes. No biggy. We pulled them out of the oven, and oh, by the way, they made the kitchen smell great! We put them on a rack to let them cool and tasted them.
One of the most appealing features of this mix is its simplicity. With just a few additional ingredients (water, eggs, and oil), the mix transforms into a velvety batter in mere minutes. While the package offers directions for both bread and muffins, I chose to go with the muffins for a quicker bake time.
The consistency of the batter was smooth and lump-free, with a rich pumpkin hue. The spices, though pre-mixed, were well-balanced and did not overpower. They exuded a fragrance that was nothing short of autumn in a bowl.
I filled the muffin cups three-quarters full as recommended and popped them into the oven. As they baked, my kitchen was filled with a heartwarming aroma – a blend of nutmeg, cinnamon, and baked goodness.
First off let me say the kids absolutely loved them! I thought the muffins were really good, but not outstanding. The muffins didn’t rise all that much. You can see in the picture that they came only a little above the brim. Next time I will fill the holes up more so we get a good muffin top on them. I did expect a little more pumpkin spice flavor. It was very mild on these, which is probably why my kids loved them so much.
Post the recommended bake time, the muffins emerged with a delightful golden-brown crown. They held their shape well and broke with a gentle crumble when pulled apart.
The first bite was a mix of sensations. The exterior had a slight crust, giving it a delightful texture, while the inside was moist and fluffy. The pumpkin flavor was authentic and not overly sweet, letting the spices shine without overwhelming the palate.
The mix seemed to strike a balance between being dense enough to be satisfying, yet light enough to have more than one muffin in a sitting. Moreover, it was evident that Trader Joe’s didn’t skimp on quality. There was no artificial aftertaste, a common complaint with some store-bought mixes.
Suggestions & Variations:
While the muffins were delectable on their own, I couldn’t help but imagine the variations one could try. A sprinkle of chocolate chips or a handful of crushed nuts could elevate the experience. For those seeking a healthier alternative, apple sauce can be a substitute for oil. If you’re looking for a zestier kick, adding a tad bit of orange or lemon zest could give it a refreshing twist.
Would I buy them again? Of course! The Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Bread and Muffin mix is pretty darn good on its own but is missing something that could be fixed with nuts, dried fruit, or something like that to give it a bit more texture and flavor. Maybe a dash of Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Spice (in the spice section).
I am going to rate the Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Bread and Muffin mix 7 Bells!
UNBLEACHED ENRICHED FLOUR (WHEAT FLOUR, NIACIN, REDUCED IRON, THIAMIN MONONITRATE, RIBOFLAVIN, FOLIC ACID)
SUGAR, DRIED PUMPKIN FLAKES, SPICES, SALT, ARABIC GUM, SOYBEAN OIL, LEAVENING (BAKING SODA, SODIUM ACID PYROPHOSPHATE).
CONTAINS WHEAT, SOY.
MAY CONTAIN TRACES OF EGG, MILK.