Pumpkin cupcakes- tastes like autumn!
Nothing says autumn more than pumpkin and cinnamon. And there’s something uncannily comforting in a spicy, moist cake paired with a cream cheese frosting. Hmm I think I have been using way too much cream cheese of late, but this was my last pack of Philly, so I wanted to make it good!
I came across this recipe in Jamie O’s Jamie at Home that soy got as a birthday gift 2 years ago. I like Jamie’s rustic style, which is not just a euphemism for ‘not pretty’, I just think cupcakes have become a massive fad that can be quite fussy and fake. And since cupcakes are now ‘in’, people are actually selling them for $4-5 PER cupcake… which I think is madness! Even more mad are the people who buy them. And most of the time, they usually taste like sugary, airy nothingness. Which is why I feel so strongly about this: cupcakes are simple to make. And if you make your own, you can ensure you put only wholesome, real ingredients into them and no artificial crap. And, to show I haven’t totally gone off tangent, that is what Jamie O’s food is all about- no fluff, just real, tasty food.
I must admit that I initially went.. “Er.. Pumpkin… in a cupcake?!” and it’s true… I only decided to make these for the first time because curiosity got the better of me. That, and, every autumn we usually cart back massive whole pumpkins and then crack out every pumpkin recipe we can think of. Jamie uses butternut pumpkin in his recipe, but any kind will do, just trim off the skin if you’re worried it won’t soften enough in the oven. When I’ve used butternut pumpkin, I just leave the skin on, and they become soft and chewy and add a really nice texture to the cake. Oh, and Jamie’s frosting is a bit different- it’s runnier, tangy and less rich- delicious! But because I had a package of Philly, I made my usual cream cheese frosting. I’ve posted both the frostings in the recipe below so you can make one or both depending on your mood!
These cakes were also special because I had a friend I had not seen in 2 years who came to tea! We ploughed through undergrad together, and then she moved back to Malaysia. Somehow we managed to meet in Singapore during my trips back for a few years, but then just could not line up our schedules. So I was really glad when she decided to spend a day in Canberra! And what a wet, cold day it was… these spicy pumpkin cupcakes and a cup of hot tea made it aaaall better.
Jamie Oliver’s Butternut Squash Muffins
400g butternut squash (ie pumpkin), deseeded and roughly chopped
350g light soft brown sugar
4 large eggs
300g plain flour, unsifted
2 tsp baking powder
a handful of walnuts
1 tsp ground cinnamon
175ml extra virgin olive oil
for the frosted cream topping
zest of 1 clementine
zest of 1 lemon and
juice of 1/2 a lemon
140ml soured cream
2 heaped tablespoons icing sugar, sifted
1 vanilla pod, split lengthways and seeds scraped out
for the cream cheese frosting
1 package (250g) cream cheese, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
lemon juice, to taste
icing sugar, sifted, to taste
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Line your muffin tins with paper cases. Whiz the squash in a food processor until finely chopped. Add the sugar, and crack in the eggs. Add a pinch of salt, the flour, baking powder, walnuts, cinnamon and olive oil and whiz together until well beaten.
Fill the paper cases with the cake mixture. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes.
Remove from the oven and leave the cakes to cool on a wire rack.
To make your runny frosted topping: Place most of the clementine zest, all the lemon zest and the lemon juice in a bowl. Add the soured cream, icing sugar and vanilla seeds and mix well. Taste and adjust the amount of lemon juice or icing sugar to balance the sweet and sour. Put into the fridge until your cakes have cooled down, then spoon the topping on to the cakes. Sprinkle with the rest of the clementine zest sprinkled over.
To make the cream cheese topping: Beat the cream cheese for a few seconds to soften. Beat in the vanilla. Add the lemon juice a tablespoonful at a time. Same for the icing sugar. Rely on your taste and balance the tartness of the juice and the sweetness of the sugar according to what you like!