It seems like every fall, brands put out a new pumpkin spice flavored product. There are pumpkin spice lattes, syrup, mac & cheese, yogurt—there’s even pumpkin spice Spam. Trying to keep up with all these new foods can be exhausting. As I see the plethora of processed pumpkin spice foods, I wonder how many of them actually contain pumpkin.
The pumpkin flavor and orange color in these cupcakes are a result of using fresh and real ingredients. These cupcakes can be frosted and enjoyed as a sweet fall dessert, but they are also so yummy that they can be eaten plain with a hot cup of apple cider—or maybe a pumpkin spice latte, if that’s your thing.
The first thing I do when I bake anything is preheat the oven, so I don’t have to wait for it after my batter is ready. The other most important thing is to set out your butter and milk; these ingredients need to be around room temperature so the batter will not be clumpy. Cold butter is hard to mix, even in an electric mixer, and pouring cold milk in the batter will re-clump your room-temperature butter. It may also be beneficial to put the cupcake liners in the pan now, to save time later.
Start by mixing the dry ingredients together in a bowl. This includes the all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking powder, salt and pumpkin pie spice. If you aren’t able to use cake flour, you may be able to get away with all-purpose flour, but the cupcakes won’t be as fluffy and moist. Next, it is time to prepare the wet ingredients. Cream the butter and sugar together into a creamy texture and then add the vanilla extract and pumpkin puree. You might notice there are no eggs in this recipe. The great thing about using pumpkin puree, or any kind of fruit puree, is that it acts as a binding agent and adds enough moisture so that you can skip the egg. Once the pumpkin puree is incorporated, measure out the milk but don’t add it all into the wet ingredients at once. The best method for combining all the ingredients is to alternate adding the dry ingredients and the milk into the butter mixture. This can either be done by pouring a little bit at a time or using a cup measure to scoop each in. It’s important to take this part slow and take a few seconds for each addition to mix in. Once everything is incorporated, it’s a good idea to scrape the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl with a spatula to make sure there’s no extra flour at the bottom. Mix the batter just until it’s smooth and then stop, so it doesn’t get overworked.
Use an ice cream or cookie scooper to scoop the batter into the cupcake pan. Fill the cups about three quarters of the way full. If you spill some of the batter on the edges of the pan, like I always do, wiping it off with a wet paper towel will save you from having to scrape off burnt batter later. Bake the cupcakes for approximately 18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
If you think baking the cupcakes is enough work in itself, you’ll probably like the idea of canned frosting with a little extra pizzazz. However, make sure to let the cupcakes cool prior to frosting them — this will prevent the frosting from melting. Grab a can of white frosting and add a couple of teaspoons of ground cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice to create that good pumpkin spice flavor. Add as much or as little as you like! If you’re not into canned frosting or just feel like making your own, homemade cream cheese frosting will also go great with these cupcakes.
To create a pretty frosted pattern, I recommend moving the frosting from the can into a plastic ziploc bag. Cut about a quarter to half of an inch of the corner of the bag off and squeeze the frosting to the bottom of the bag. Then frost the cupcakes in whatever pattern you wish. If you are feeling fancy, professional icing bags and tips can be found at nearly any grocery store and will create that swirly pattern that is common on cupcakes. For an additional personal touch, sprinkle some cinnamon or nutmeg on top of the frosting and call it art.
½ cup butter
1 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 ½ cups all purpose-flour
½ cup cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
¾ cup milk of choice
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and set out the butter and milk. Prepare a cupcake pan by adding liners or spraying the wells with cooking spray.
2. Whisk together the all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking powder, salt and pumpkin pie spice in a bowl and set aside.
3. In a different mixing bowl, add the butter and sugar and whisk until it is creamy. Add in vanilla extract and pumpkin puree.
4. Measure the milk in a separate glass. Alternate adding the milk and dry ingredients into the butter mixture.
5. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides and make sure the batter is properly mixed. Do not over mix.
6. Scoop cupcake batter into the cupcake pan, filling each cupcake three quarters of the way full.
7. Bake for approximately 18 minutes or until the toothpick comes out clean.
8. Let the cupcakes cool until they reach room temperature.
9. While they are cooling, mix the cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice into the white frosting.
10. Once cooled, frost the cupcakes with the mixed frosting and enjoy!
By Katelyn Wiszowaty, A&E Editor