Jumbo Pumpkin Donut Muffins & the Summer I Got Canned

Jumbo Pumpkin Donut Muffins: a quick mufin recipe that will impress everyone at your breakfast table.

Once upon a time…

I got canned while on vacation. Yes, me. vacay. fired.

It was slightly embarrassing and perfectly understandable. You see, my boss was a troll.

Wait…that’s not fair. Perhaps, she was just a perfectionist? Nah, she was a troll.

At the time I was working at a bakery. I was super excited because finally, someone was paying me to do what I love. My neighbor, we’ll call her ‘Miss Good Intentions’ got me a job making pastries at a second bakery around the corner. I should’ve known it was a bad idea as she never had anything good to say about her boss; but I took the job anyway. I worked at the second bakery for three days. Here’s how it went.

Jumbo Pumpkin Donut Muffins: a quick mufin recipe that will impress everyone at your breakfast table.

Day 1

I met with the owner, a scary looking woman who looked like she desperately needed a bowl of soup and a nap. I kinda felt sorry for her. Little did I know she would soon can my ass so my sympathy was a bit misplaced. She showed me the recipes and how she wanted everything baked. No problem.

Day 2

After my 4 hr training session(Day 1), I was left to my own devices. I baked all the scones, muffins, cookies, etc. and plated them. It was ten minutes until opening and everything was ready, but wasn’t yet placed in the display case. Troll noticed and hit the roof. Queue the tongue-lashing I received with an audience. The cashier felt so bad for me she offered to make me a latte.

Day 3

With 20 ounces of Low Carb Monster in me I returned to the bakery energized and determined to please Troll. I kept to myself, focused on the tasks at hand and got everything baked and displayed under the wire. There was no praise from Troll she just hobbled over and gave me a new list of ‘things to prep’.

At the end of my shift she asked me to return the next weekend. I couldn’t as I planned to spend a week with my great friend Marsha, who was pregnant with her first child. I offered to come back the weekend after my return and Troll accepted.

Jumbo Pumpkin Donut Muffins: a quick mufin recipe that will impress everyone at your breakfast table.

The following week, whilst vacationing in Alabama, I got a call from the manager. She asked where I wanted my wages sent as my services were no longer needed.  There was no ‘wtf’ reaction from me; I wouldn’t give them the satisfaction. Politely, I answered her question and ended the conversation.

What upset me most is the fact that I never got to try their donut muffins. You see, the bakery was famous for them. Did I mention that Troll never let me try any of the baked goods? Good lord, Troll…have a heart!

Jumbo Pumpkin Donut Muffins and the Summer I Got Canned
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Makes 6 Jumbo Muffins
Serves: 6
  • 1¾ c flour
  • ¾ c granulated sugar(originally ½ cup)
  • 2 t baking powder
  • ½ t baking soda (do not add if using milk)
  • ½ t salt
  • 1 t nutmeg
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • ⅓ c oil
  • 1 egg, large
  • ¾ c pumpkin puree
  • ½ c milk(I used buttermilk, hence the baking soda)
  • 1 t vanilla
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Spray jumbo muffin pan with baking spray or line with jumbo paper cups.
  3. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  4. Mix wet in a measuring cup or small bowl.
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry.
  6. Divide evenly among the six cups. I filled each cup with double scoops, size 16.
  7. Bake for 25 minutes.



To make the glaze, melt 2 tablespoons of butter with 1 heaping tablespoon of heavy cream over low heat. Slowly whisk in 1/4 cup of brown sugar and remove from heat once fully melted. Vigorously whisk in 1/2 cup of confectioner’s sugar. Use immediately.

Jumbo Pumpkin Donut Muffins Photo Notes

by David

This was a good one.  After a lousy shoot last week that produced unusable pictures, I was relieved this session went well.

Frankly, when things go bad, it’s typically due to a lack of planning and bad technique.  It’s nearly impossible to “wing it” with studio food photography, yet I’m still dumb enough to do it on occasion.

This week, I planned, metered, and carefully coordinated the colors and composition before I picked up the camera.  When I finally took the first shot, I knew I had nailed it.


The lighting was composed of three lights. The main light was a monolight bounced off a white wall at f11.5. The second light was bounced into a large piece of foamcore at f8.5 to give a little more wrap and the third was a soft silver umbrella set at f4.5 to provide fill from the opposite side.

I liked the natural look of this setup, but there were problems with specularity off the top of the muffins.  A little specularity is normal and necessary, but the top of the muffins were completely blown out.  I adjusted the camera and lighting angles but I finally used my hand as a Gobo over the top of the muffins.  It was a stupid simple solution, but sometimes it’s just easier sticking your hand on to the set and blocking the light.

Wrap Up

This was a fun shoot and I saved a $1000 on lighting modifiers by bouncing a light off the wall and a piece of cardboard.  It’s easy to get caught up with all the latest gear, but when it comes down to it, once light bounces off something or travels through a piece of nylon, it’s all going to look the same.  The only thing that truly matters is the size of the light relative to the subject.  Of course, if Chimera calls tomorrow with a sponsorship, I’ll sell out faster than M.C. Hammer jumping off a Taco Bell.





Camera: Nikon D90
Lens: Tamron 17-50mm 2.8
Strobes: White Lightning x1600
Tripod: Manfrotto
ISO: 200
Focal Length: 50mm
Shutter: 125
Aperture: f/11

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  1. 1

    Delightful! It’s a heck of a “trollful” story with a beautiful ending. Exquisitely photographed jumbo pumpkin donut muffins that I could instantly pop into my ever-drooling mouth. The freshness of the muffins just oozes from the pictures. I can’t believe David would sell out to Chimera that fast, especially if the platter of muffins were still sitting there.

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      Yes. Use the baking soda in addition to the baking powder, if you’re using buttermilk. If you’re using regular milk, use baking powder only. Happy Baking!

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