The Confluence House Bed-and-Breakfast, a popular refuge for weary bicyclists traversing the 151-mile bike trail along the Great Allegheny Passage in Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands, offers more than a cozy place to rest at the end of a long ride. Owners Fred and Sandy Younkin are the only inn in their town serving up a hot breakfast, emphasizing menu items that are fresh, seasonal, local, nourishing and, of course, delicious.
Sandy’s Goat Cheese Pumpkin Muffin recipe (shared below) is a breakfast staple at The Confluence House. Adapted from her husband’s grandmother’s pumpkin bread recipe, she added goat cheese and pumpkin seeds, among other things, to appeal to modern-day palettes.
“The recipe was published in the Community Cookin: Confluence Firemen Ladies Auxiliary book in 1983,” Sandy says. “Recipes were provided by ladies of the community with a variety of treasured family keepsakes and newer versions of recipes enjoyed by the families.”
With more than three-quarters of their guests being bikers, there’s a draw for their fresh, healthy morning meals. Sandy shops at the Springs, Pa., farmers’ market whenever possible to shop for seasonal produce offered by the area’s Amish and Mennonite farmers.
“I believe in a nice healthy breakfast that meets everyone’s dietary needs,” she says.
Gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian diets are happily accommodated thanks to Sandy’s years of experience as a professional caterer for weddings and other special events.
“For gluten-free recipes, I find a mix of various flours work the best. Using just one type of flour doesn’t give your recipe enough texture or baking consistency,” she says. “I also add xanthum gum in place of wheat gluten for texture. I tend to avoid soy flour as many people are allergic to soy and it can sometimes have a bitter taste.” Her version of gluten-free flour includes a mix of white rice, coconut and tapioca flour along with potato starch and 2 tablespoons of xanthum gum. To make the recipe vegan, substitute a half cup unsweetened applesauce or prune purée for the eggs, and skip the goat cheese.
Recipe: Goat Cheese Pumpkin Muffins
Courtesy Sandy Younkin, Confluence House Bed & Breakfast
Yield: approximately 30 muffins
- 1 cup oil
- 3 cups sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 16 ounces puréed pumpkin (canned or fresh cooked)
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 3 cups flour
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. baking powder (If using gluten free flour increase baking powder to 1 Tbsp.)
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. cloves
- 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
- 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup dates, chopped
- 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
- 4 ounces pumpkin goat cheese
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Cream oil and sugar until fluffy and light in color. Add eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly after each. Add pumpkin and vanilla, mixing to combine. In a separate bowl, sift flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and spices. (Cinnamon clumps when added directly to wet ingredients and not mixed with flour.)
Blend flour mixture into wet ingredients until just moistened. Add nuts, dates and raisins. Using regular-sized muffin pans sprayed with a non-stick coating or muffin paper, and fill each cup three-quarters full using large scoop. Using small, 1-inch scoop, place goat cheese in center of each muffin.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until done.
You may divide recipe in half for smaller yield or freeze extra muffins for later use.