November 1, 2011
I’m a little behind on the pumpkin frenzy. October has been another unpredictably crazy month. I suppose that, by now, I should be able to predict that every month is unpredictably crazy. In between scheduled birthdays, parties and holidays—of which there are many this time of year—there are inevitably last minute obligations, meetings and sicknesses. My schedule, cooking and otherwise, never quite works out the way I expect.
If there’s a silver lining to bidding adieu to summer foods, it’s that fall foods bring with them the comfort of stability. Unlike tomatoes and corn, Italian plums, concord grapes and berries, fall foods are here to stay for a while. So, no worries if you haven’t cooked with apples or pumpkin yet—there is plenty of time.
It’s not like me to kick things off with cupcakes—I’ve been wanting to make my Pumpkin Feta Risotto or Baked Pasta with Roasted Pumpkin and Bacon—but we were in Halloween celebration mode this weekend. The Hungry Boy and I spread cobwebs, hung ghosts, made signs welcoming visitors to “Spooky Land,” and scattered glittery spiders. Pumpkin cupcakes were most definitely in order. (And have continued to be in order every day since. Beware of making these in big batches.)
These pumpkin cupcakes are brimming with fall spice. Their sweet smell will fill your house for hours, long after they are done baking. They are the perfect thing to make on a cozy afternoon at home, as we did during this weekend’s freak snow storm. And they are so moist that they’ll keep a deliciously perfect texture for days. I know because look at what I ate for lunch, two whole days after they came out of the oven:
Perfect texture and heavenly fall flavors—the kind that will reliably sustain the many months ahead. The berries and tomatoes are gone, the weather is getting cold—it’s even started snowing—but this cupcake, friends, is our silver lining.
makes about 2 dozen cupcakes
(can be shared with kids 12+ mos)*
2 cups flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger (or 1/4 teaspoon grated fresh ginger)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 heaping cups pumpkin puree (fresh or one 15-ounce can)
1/2 cup buttermilk (store-bought or quick homemade clabbered milk)
3 large eggs
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with paper liners and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger (if using ground), salt, baking soda, nutmeg and cloves; set aside.
2. In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together the butter and sugars. Add pumpkin, buttermilk, eggs and, if using fresh, ginger; mix until well combined. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and continue mixing until smooth.
3. Divide the batter evenly among liners, filling each well a little over halfway. Bake until a tester inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from oven and, as soon as you’re able, transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.
4. Once cooled, ice with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting and serve! These cupcakes can be made up to 2 days ahead of time—just store in an airtight container in the fridge and allow them to return to room temp before serving.
*Note: Though there is nothing in these cupcakes that is unsafe for early eaters, I recommend these beginning at 12 months due to their relatively high sugar content. If you’d like to share these with your littlest eater, consider baking them in mini-muffin tins and skip the icing. You can even cut the brown sugar by a 1/4 cup. No matter how and to whom you serve these, be sure to serve up age-appropraite portions. A little cupcake goes a long way with your, well, little cupcake!