Cupcakes, Uncategorized

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

SweetPumpkinCupcakes

Makes: 30 cupcakes

Difficulty Level: Pretty Easy

Every year, my job holds a Chili Cook-off to raise awareness for the Combined Federal Campaign, a Campaign that allows federal employees to make a one time or recurring donation to a charity of their choice. This year, I chose a charity close to my heart and my family the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

I volunteered to make desserts for the hungry employees but was  unexpectedly tapped to bake a “specialty dessert” to be auctioned off. This was both flattering and stressful! Now my dessert had to be pretty & delicious enough to sit on a table full of lovely desserts made by some of my Offices baking MVP’s. While deciding what to make, I was struck by a thought instilled in me by the great Yotam Ottolenghi: when you’re cooking (or baking) for others, it’s not the time to try out new, complicated recipes. Bake what you know. Impress them with recipes you’ve perfected. For me, this meant the humble cupcake. Cupcakes served as my original foray into baking, so I figured I’d choose a fun, seasonal, recipe, and bake to impress. I strayed a bit from the Ottolenghi gospel and tried a new recipe I felt confident I could follow through on. I was inspired by a recipe on one of my favorite blogs, the Cake Blog. This great blog, filled with recipes for super impressive cupcakes, cakes and more, had a recipe for these pumpkin cupcakes with cinnamon frosting.

I topped them with fancy little pearl sprinkles I found at Safeway, took a few glamour shots, and got them to the auction. I think these cute little cupcakes held their own on a table full of impressive desserts!

Ingredients:

For the cupcakes

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temp.
  • 4 eggs, room temp.
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 and 1/2 cups pumpkin puree (I used the boxed organic pumpkin puree from Whole Foods)

For the frosting

  • 3/4 cups of unsalted butter, softened
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon

For fun

  • Little white pearl sprinkles

Directions:

Cupcakes

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F & line your cupcake tin with liners
  2. Get out your large bowl and combine your dry ingredients: Flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. I like to sift all of my ingredients into the bowl and whisk it for a few seconds. This makes for a smoother batter.
  3. In the bowl of a standing mixer with a paddle attachment, mix butter, sugar and brown sugar until creamy and well combined.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time & beat well after each addition.  TIP: Crack the eggs into a separate bowl beforehand to avoid any shells in the mix.
  5. Add your dry ingredients one cup at a time, alternating between dry ingredients and milk. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down sides as needed.
  6. Mix in pumpkin puree
  7. Fill liners 2/3 full & bake for 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean
  8. Let those cute little cupcakes cool in the pan for 5 minutes & then transfer to a wire rack.
  9. Once the cupcakes are completely cooled, frost them.

Frosting

  1. If it’s not too much of a pain, sift your powdered sugar into a bowl. This helps create smooth frosting. If, like me, you get impatient after a few cups, just try not to add too many lumpy pieces of sugar in the bowl, OKAYYYY?
  2. In the bowl of a standing mixer equipped with a whisk attachment, whisk the butter and cream cheese.
  3. Add powdered sugar one cup at a time. Scrape down bowl as necessary. Try to get those lumps out. Lumpy cupcakes are not cute.
  4. Add cinnamon and vanilla and mix until combined.
  5. Place your icing in a piping bag equipped with a large tip. Round is best. I think the one I used was too narrow.
  6. Sprinkle on the little white pearls.
  7. Refrigerate! These have cream cheese!

 

Minis

Mini Apple Cider Bundt Cakes

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Mini Apple Cider Bundt Cakes
MAKES: 12 mini bundt cakes
PREP TIME: 15 minutes
OVEN TEMP: 375 degrees F
COOK TIME: 18-20 minutes
I decided to bake these perfect little cakes for my work’s picnic. I had a jug of apple cider in the refrigerator, left over from my Rosh Hashanah apple cider bundt cake, and didn’t want all of that apple-y goodness to go to waste. I was inspired by a recipe for mini apple cider donuts over on one of my favorite sites, Inspired by Charm, and was excited about the ease of the recipe, the minimal ingredients required, and….the cuteness. Oh, the cuteness.
Ingredients:
For the mini cakes
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. apple pie spice (I made my own: 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg, 1/4 tsp allspice)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 3/4 cups extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
For the cinnamon sugar topping:
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. Spray the bundt pan. I don’t use spray. I typically grease a non-stick pan by melting a bit of unsalted butter, dipping the tip of a paper towel in the butter, and greasing the pan with a light amount of butter. (For non-stick pans and larger bundt cakes, I’ll butter the pan, sprinkling flour over the pan, and banging out the excess flour. That’s not necessary with the Wilton’s non-stick mini bund pans/)
  3. Get out a large bowl. Sift the flour into the bowl. Then sift in the baking powder and baking soda into the bowl. Add the cinnamon, apple pie spice, and salt. WHISK away.
  4. In another medium sized bowl, whisk sugar, apple cider, EVOO, unsweetened applesauce, vanilla and eggs. I suggest cracking the eggs into a smaller bowl first, especially if you’re a messy cracker.
  5. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry & stir to combine.
  6. Fill each mini bundt imprint about three quarters full. I transferred my batter to a liquid measuring cup and poured from there.
  7. Bake 18-20 minutes. Toothpick test will work: If it comes out clean, or with a crumb or two, take out your cakes. Let the bundt cakes cool in the pan for 4 minutes.
  8. MY FAVORITE STEP: Invert your pan to reveal the tiniest bundt cakes you ever did see. I squealed. I have a problem; I have no shame.
  9. Brush each cake with melted butter & press the cinnamon and sugar topping into each cake. If you’d like a more present crust (I did), you can carefully roll the cakes in the topping.
  10. Let ’em cool. You can store them, covered, at room temp, for up to 2 days.
Uncategorized

The Starting Line

 

I began learning to be a better baker in law school. During a stressful and unpredictable time, the ingredients list, step-by-step instructions, and exact measurements of a recipe were a comfort. The smell of apples and cinnamon wafting throughout the house helped, too. The start of my baking education, a self-taught one, started eight years ago. I’ve learned a lot of lessons over this time, resulting in flat cookies, runny lemon bars, and lopsided cakes.

I’ve grown a lot since that time. I graduates law school, made my way to the DC area with my husband and rescue-pup in tow, and eventually, we bought our first home together. Now the three of us live in our cozy condo. The condo, our vision still in the making, is filled with white countertops, pale pink pillows, countless cookbooks, and most importantly, the smells of cooking and baking wafting through the air most weekend evenings.

These recipes we learn and create keep us busy, keep us close, keep us well fed. The food keeps us in touch with our culture and our roots and allow us to communicate with our loved ones through meals we create. I bake for friends, for co-workers, and for those I hope to build relationships with. I bake for me.

Now, I bake for you, too.

I want to share some of my experiences with you, the reader. I’ll share recipes, culinary trials and tribulations, some “living in DC” tips and tidbits, and even some home styling stories. I hope you’ll join me for the ride.

It only gets better and sweeter from here.