Autumn is well upon us, even in the South, although it looks different than what I’m used to. The leaves don’t so much turn colors as just fall off the tree (although they are as equally efficacious at clogging up gutters as their northern counterparts), and during the day the temperatures still climb into the 80s on a regular basis – but at night there’s a chill in the air, and the morning ride into work is a brisk one. The farmer’s markets are starting to show mostly autumn produce – squashes, the last of the leafy vegetables, etc. Which means one thing – pumpkins!
I picked up a few baking pumpkins at Trader Joe’s (the local farmer’s market being out of them by the time I dragged myself out of bed on Saturday), and roasted them up to use in various things. I’ve been steaming them rather than straight-up roasting – making a foil tent and putting some water into the bottom of the pan. I find that it’s much faster (takes only half an hour for a medium-sized pumpkin), but that you don’t get those lovely little caramelized bits at the edges. Still tasty, though, at least as much as the canned stuff.
The first thing on my list that I’ve been waiting to try out was a cute little recipe for pumpkin-shaped pumpkin cupcakes (found in Southern Lady magazine, Sept/Oct 2008 – Southern Lady has some really nice dessert content – there are always a few recipes per issue that I want to bake!). Not having a mini-bundt pan, I’d been looking around and ended up getting a mini-kugelhof pan, which is a little narrower at top. And, also, takes less batter – I’d filled the hollows about 2/3 full and had quite a bit of over-spillage at the top. The trimmings were usually as big as cookies themselves – perfect for sandwiching together with some extra frosting!
I also had plenty of batter left over for trying out my new silicon muffin pan, so there really ended up quite the pumpkin extravaganza, as you can see:
And now, the Party Pumpkins!
Pumpkin Patch Party Cakes
Yield: 6.00 servings
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- ¾ cup packed brown sugar (I used light)
- ¾ cup granulated suar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 (15-ounce) can LIBBY’S 100% Pure Pumpkin (I used my own home-roasted pumpkin puree, yum)
- ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 recipe Orange Cream Cheese Icing
- Garnish= 6 (4-inch) cinnamon sticks (I used chocolate-dipped Vanilla Stix, but you could totally use chocolate-dipped Pumpkin Pocky) Orange Cream Cheese Icing:
- (Makes about 1 cup)
- 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature
- ½ teaspoon orange extract
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons milk
Preheat oven to 350F. Spray two 6-cavity mini-fluted tube pans with nonstick cooking spray.
Combine flour, pumpkin pie spices, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in medium bowl. Beat butter and sugars in large mixing bowl for 3 to 4 minutes, or until creamy.
Add eggs, beat well.
Add pumpkin and vanilla extract, beat well.
Gradually beat in flour mixture (do not overmix! Just mix until wet.) Spoon evenly into prepared cavities (about ½ cup batter in each). [Note: Here I used a pastry bag and piped the dough in – less mess, and easier to get consistent levels and layers of filling] Gently tap pan on counter to release air bubbles.
Bake for 20 minutes, or until wooden toothpick inserted in cakes comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; invert onto wire racks ot cool completely. With serrated knife, carefully cut off bottoms of each cake so surface is level/flat. (Tip: save the bottoms to enjoy later – and did I!)
Prepare Orange Cream Cheese Icing.
Spread 1 tablespoon icing over cut side of cake to within ½ inch of edge on your 6 uglier cakelingsot to avoid the edge, therefore cream cheese ‘bulge’. Oops] Reserve remaining icing. Place the 6 uniced cakes on top of cakes with icing, making cute little pumpkins. (Save the nicer ones for toppers); be sure to spread mixture over hole in center. [You’ll note that I totally forgot this step, hence a little frosting ‘bulge’ – oops.]
To serve: thin remaining icing by adding 2 Tablespoons milk; beat until smooth. the consistency should be thin enough to drizzle; add more milk as needed. Drizzle over cakes. Garnish with one cinnamon stick (or pocky) “stem” in the center of each “pumpkin”.
[At this point, I also sprinkled a little nutmeg on the top; cardamom would also be nifty.]
Construction was uneventful, although I did forget to keep the frosting contained (so there’s a visible layer between the top and bottom of the pumpkin, oops). I opted to forgo the cinnamon stick (as inedible) to serve as the stem, instead coating shards of vanilla stix (link) in chocolate and using those (although Pocky would work equally as well, and now they make pumpkin pocky! Win-win, there.). A little sprinkle of nutmeg over the glaze finishes it off for the pumpkins – I used cardamom on the cupcakes, which melded nicely with the other spices and pumpkin flavor. The orange in the glaze really worked well with the pumpkin – I usually find powdered-sugar based glazes too sweet, but just a little hint of citrus cuts that.
The pumpkin cake recipe itself was perfect – good pumpkin flavor, good crumb, without being too wet (although the cupcakes took longer to cook than usual – perhaps something to do with the silicon baking pan?). I’ll definitely use it again.
Cute and tasty! These disappeared quickly.