Halloween Pumpkin Cupcakes

halloween spooky pumpkin face cupcakes decorated

Happy Halloween! This bake is another inspired by my baking calendar (as was my lemon & lavender cake back in the summer). Spiced pumpkin cake with ginger icing? Yes please!

baking calendar cake a month october halloween pumpkin cupcakes recipe inspiration

I altered the recipe a little, to include more pumpkin, no sultanas, and added some cream cheese to the icing. Finished with a glittered pumpkin fondant topper – scary and sweet all at the same time! A slight confession – hopefully you’ll forgive – as these cakes are made with oil rather butter, and mixed rather than creamed and folded, they’re actually more muffins than cupcakes. But they still taste as good!

Ingredients (makes approx. 15 medium muffins)

350g mashed pumpkin
125ml olive oil
150 light muscovado sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
300g plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
2 teaspoons nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg

Method

– In a large bowl, beat together the pumpkin, oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla
– Sieve in the dry ingredients, and mix until just combined
– Spoon into cupcake / muffin cases, filling to about 2/3
– Bake at 180 degrees for 15 – 20 minutes, until an inserted skewer comes out clean

pumpkin cupcakes easy recipe and method for autumn or halloween baking

Spiced cream cheese icing

50g butter
125g cream cheese
275g icing sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ginger
Pinch of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence

– Mix together the butter and cream cheese until smooth
– Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Don’t beat too much or the cream cheese will start to melt.
– Refrigerate for 15 minutes before using to top the cooled cakes. Keep the cakes in the fridge until they’re ready to be eaten

pumpkin cupcakes with spiced cream cheese frosting autumn recipe

The lovely My Cake Decorating Halloween special came with this great pumpkin plunger cutter, perfect for making scary-faced pumpkins every time!

orange fondant pumpkin shapes for halloween cupcakes

I used a little black + red edible glitter to fill in the eyes, nose and mouth for extra spooky effect.

painting fondant orange pumpkin faces with edible glitter for halloween baking Trick or treat! What do you think?

halloween pumpkin cupcakes spiced recipe using vegetable flesh cream cheese frosting halloween pumpkin cupcake flavoured and decorate spooky glitter face halloween pumpkin cupcake spooky face orange fondant and edible glitter

Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake

halloween autumn or fall dessert recipe ideas for the family pumpkin pie cheesecake healthy and low fat

It’s definitely that time of year again – no, not the dark, cold, grey one (although that does seem to be advancing at an alarming rate), but the one where everything growing in the garden seems to be ready at once. Personally our garden is over-whelmed with tomatoes, so every other meal seems to be bolognese-based, but from my Dad’s side, his garage seems to be overflowing with giant pumpkins!

I’m not sure if this one was bigger than last years – but certainly big enough for me, it took over 2 hours to chop up and freeze all the flesh!

giant halloween pumpkin homegrown british allotment pie recipe

For dinner at the in-laws last weekend, I wanted to make a dessert and there was really only one thing that could go in it – with my fridge and freezer both filled to the brim, it really had to use up a good amount of pumpkin flesh. It’s a very sizeable cheesecake but would work just as well if you used, say, half the recipe.

Once you have your pumpkin ready (and you could use canned puree if you don’t have any fresh), it’s really very quick to put together. The end result is a creamy cheesecake with all the taste of pumpkin pie.

Ingredients

250g digestive biscuits, crushed
125g butter, melted
Pinch each of cinnamon and nutmeg
1 teaspoon cocoa powder (optional)
1 tablespoon light muscovado sugar

450g mashed / pureed pumpkin
500g quark or cream cheese
150g light muscovado sugar
150ml sour cream
5 eggs
2 teaspoons nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger

Method
– Mix together dry ingredients for the base in a large bowl, before stirring in the melted butter
– Press firmly into the bottom of a large spring-form or loose-bottomed tin, and put in the fridge whilst you make the topping
– In another large bowl, mix the pumpkin, quark, sugar, spices and sour cream, and beat until smooth. Have a quick taste test – add more sugar or spices if you feel needed.
– Add the eggs and stir together until just-combined; don’t over-mix at this stage- Pour over the biscuit base, you should not need to smooth as it will settle to a flat top
– Bake at 180 degrees for 1 – 1 1/2 hours, until the top is set (it should only wobble slightly if you shake the tin)
– Remove from the oven and run a knife all around the edge, this will allow the cake to shrink away from the edges as it cools
– Leave in the tin until completely cool (overnight ideally), as the inside will continue cooking
– Remove from the tin and serve in large slices!

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I’d intended to take a photo of the inside before we tucked in, but was a little fork-happy! What I can tell you was that the inside was smooth and tangy, with a lovely treacly flavour from the muscovado, perfectly offset by the spices and sour cream. Yummy!

pumpkin pie cheesecake thick treacle base creamy insides halloween recipe

Halloween Spiced Pumpkin Cake

halloween pumpkin cake shaped fondant recipe and decoration with leaves decoration

Last week my dad brought round some of the harvest from his allotment – in the form of 3 huge pumpkins, the largest of which weighed a whopping 5 stone!

giant homegrown pumpkins largest weighing five stones

We went through one of the smaller ones last week, which Rob carved into a cat:

homegrown pumpkin carving cat face

We wanted the monster pumpkin to display outside at Halloween. A whole evening of carving and scraping and everything-else pumpkin-y later, our fridge and freezer was full to the brim with a whopping 10 kilos / 1.5 stone of pumpkin flesh! And this is not even half of it…

giant pumpkin homegrown allotment five stone weight halloween
inside of giant pumpkin kilos of thick flesh halloween recipe usage
kilos of pumpkin flesh from carving use in cake recipe

This week was also our Halloween Nottingham City Clandestine Cake Club, and given the volume of pumpkin in the kitchen there really was no choice on what to make!

The recipe is adapted from several sources, you can add more or less spice depending on your tastes. It’s very moist on its own, or you can add a cream cheese frosting for an indulgent treat. Or dress up in its own costume as I did! There were a lot of recipes that called for delicate folding and sieving yada yada… I made it straight in one bowl, mixed carefully, no mess, no fuss, perfect cake 🙂

Ingredients

225g plain flour
175g light brown sugar
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cinammon
3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ginger
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
2 eggs
120ml vegetable oil
200g pureed pumpkin (pop it in the blender or mash)

Method
– Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl
– Add the eggs, oil and pumpkin, and mix until just combine (it doesn’t need to be smooth).
– Pour into a well-greased tin (8 inch square or similar, approx 2 litre capacity), and bake at 180 degrees for 45 – 60 minutes, until an inserted skewer comes out clean.

I’d planned ahead for this bake an invested in a medium hemisphere tin from Lakeland.

lakeland medium hemisphere tin usage and recipe review

At £6.99 it was a good price for a sturdy new tin, and I’m already plotting more uses! They do recommend you buy a baking tin to hold it upright while you’re baking, but I was sure there’d be something in the kitchen cupboard I could use. Lo and behold, my amazing number and letter pan came into use once again!

semi circle half sphere tin from lakeland balanced upright in letter and number cake tin

I made 2 batches of the above batter and baked 2 half-sphere cakes, trimming them once cool to give a slightly flatter base and top, and ensuring the middles fitted together well.

two half sphere cakes made with spiced pumpkin trimmed into shape

sphere pumpkin cake two halfs together and trimmed into shape

After a quick coat and fill of lemon buttercream, I covered the cakes in orange fondant. And you thought a normal round cake was difficult! There were a few lumps and bumps but thankfully this is a normal pumpkin characteristic 🙂

sphere cake spiced pumpkin covered in orange fondant for halloween

To create the ridged sections of the pumpkin, I simply pressed lines from the top to the bottom using the back of a thin paintbrush.

carving details into halloween pumpkin cake marking lines and ridges with paintbrush

To finish, I added a brown stalk, and some assorted green leaves around the base (mostly to disguise my bad fondant covering!)

fondant stalk and leaves on halloween pumpkin cake recipe

leaf decorations on halloween pumpkin cake shades of green

The completed cake, intentionally wonky and bumpy, of course!

halloween pumpkin cake orange fondant and spiced vegetable recipe decorated with green leaves

And of course the pumpkin was suitably carved to adorn our doorstep this evening – being such a monster it literally eats baby pumpkins for breakfast!

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Perfectly Petite Pumpkin Pie

(and it’s low-fat too!)

If last weeks pumpkin was a baby, this weeks is truly a monster.

(Last weeks carving had started to sag a little, I love how it looks like a gummy old man pumpkin 🙂 )

The monster in the background was home-grown by my dad, and even though he claims they didn’t grow very big this year it sure looked like a whopper to me. Bringing it home in the car it took up the whole passenger seat, and I was tempted to put a seatbelt on to keep it from rolling around!

As another measure of scale – it was nearly as big as our two (fully-grown but not that large) cats, Chilli and Pepper.

Are cats supposed to like pumpkin? They couldn’t quite figure it out in any case!

Because I’d made quite a big pumpkin tart this week, I kept only a little of this one for baking. The rest was used in some delicious pastas and risottos, and finished off last night in a creamy pumpkin soup. Yum!

I very loosely based my pie on this bbc recipe, although I’m rather disappointed they suggest a shop-bought pastry case when they’re so easy to make at home.

The following is for a teeny little tart of approximately 3-4 inches, but should easily scale up.

Pastry

40g butter can be substituted for low fat spread although end texture may differ a little)
80g plain flour
Water

Rub the butter into the flour using light touches. Add a little water at a time until the pastry mixes to a stiff dough. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before rolling. Remember to save 1/3 of your pastry for the lid!

I made my pastry case in a mini, loose bottomed tart tin. I blind baked it for around 15 minutes at 180 degrees – producing a crisp, slightly golden case (the ceramic baking beads had just been decanted into a second tin so the case could cool down). Blind baking is recommended for this kind of pie, as it has such a moist filling you are in danger of the dreaded soggy bottom if the pastry is not pre-cooked.

As for the filling, well, this is where I improvised rather a lot on Mr. Worrall-Thompsons recipe. Steaming the pumpkin, boiling this that and the other. Far too complicated! I was a bit slap-dash with throwing things in the bowl so quantities are a little approximate.

Filling

300-400g raw pumpkin
2-3 tablespoons of brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon each of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger
1/2 egg (keep the other half for egg washing the top)
100ml cream (I used this alpro alternative as a great low-fat and dairy-free substitute. It tastes exactly like cream!)

– microwave the pumpkin for 3-4 minutes in a large bowl until hot and mushy
– pour the pumpkin into a sieve and use a spoon to press out the excess water. You want the texture to be a bit like mashed potatoes

– put the pumpkin back in the bowl, mix in the sugar, spices, and cream, and microwave again for 2 minutes until hot and bubbling
– taste! it might look like baby food bit is delicious at this stage: creamy, spicy, sweet pumpkin mush 🙂 Add more sugar or spices if you feel it needs them

– add the egg and quickly stir before it starts to cook in the hot mixture
– spoon the mixture into the pie case

– brush a little egg round the top of the pastry case before placing on the lid.
– to add some extra spook I used the extra pastry to cut out a bat shape (using the same cutter as my bat biscuits), which I again brushed with egg before placing in the middle
– finally a last egg wash all over the top for a nice shiny finish, and a couple of small holes for steam vents

– baking time will depend on your size and oven. Mine took around 30 minutes at 180 degrees. The pie should be piping hot and a lovely golden brown colour

A little while later I carefully turned it out of the tin and immediately fell in love with its’ cuteness – such a perfect little pie!

Once cut open the pastry was crunchy and crumbly, and the filling a moist, creamy just-set texture.

Oh and that wasn’t all! I had a little pastry and a little filling left, so made some teeny tarts in my silicon petit four cases. I simply cut a circle of pastry and filled generously with the pumpkin mixing, before baking for about 10 minutes. Some of the cutest (and tastiest!) tarts I think I have made 🙂

But how could I forget the piece de resistance – you are surely not still reading for the baking! Another masterpiece carving to finish with.

Halloween Bat Biscuits

Happy Halloween!

These biscuits were a tasty excuse to try out my new bat biscuit cutter, that came as part of My Cake Decorating magazine‘s Halloween special.

The recipe was my basic chocolate butter biscuit (which you can find here), topped with chocolate royal icing and plenty of chocolate sprinkles!

I added eyes made out of fondant (stuck on with a little more chocolate icing), and dotted with some black food colouring.

Simple, sweet, smooth… and spooky!

 

We didn’t have any trick-or-treat-ers in our little cul-de-sac, but needless to say they will be devilishly devoured pretty soon 🙂

 

Chocolate Orange Cobweb Cupcakes

Another week, another cake club! This one was held by Cake Eaters Anonymous (you can also find them on facebook), which I am very proud to say started in Nottingham. There are now a few more clubs springing up around the country but this is surely the original and best 😉
The idea behind this cake club is slightly different to last weeks in that it is run in aid of charity. The charity itself varies from month to month, but all bakers pay about £3 per ticket, which gets them 3 (massively generous) pieces of cake, with the rest sold off, and other items raffled, all for the good cause.

The theme for this month was, of course, Halloween. A lot of bakers had similar ideas along the chocolate and orange lines, but it’s surely not possible to have too much of such a good thing!

I found these fantastic halloween cupcake cases in Wilkinsons that were so bang on trend I couldn’t possibly resist.

For the cakes themselves I made a very basic chocolate sponge recipe (makes about 15 cupcakes)

150g butter
150g caster sugar
3 eggs
100g self raising flour
50g cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

– cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy
– beat in the eggs one at a time with a little flour (to stop them curdling)
– sieve in the rest of the flour, cocoa, and baking powder, and fold in with a metal spoon
– spoon into the cupcake cases and bake at 180 for about 12 minutes, until firm but spongy to touch and/or a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean and dry

Whilst they were cooling I whipped up some orange buttercream. Orange in both colour and taste – when else can you get away with making near-luminous foods if not halloween!

75g butter
150g icing sugar
1/2 – 1 teaspoon orange essence (to taste)
few drops of orange food colouring / paste (to however dark you want)

– beat all the ingredients until you have a smooth, creamy icing

Once cool, I cored out the centre of the cupcakes with a sharp knife:

…spooned in a generous amount of the orange buttercream…

…replaced the (now trimmed) top…

…added a small blob more buttercream on top…

…cut circles out of fondant…

…and finally lay the fondant across the top of the cupcake, pressing lightly so the buttercream helps it stick.

Onto the decoration – I mixed up some royal icing sugar, cocoa powder, and a few drops of black food colouring, to make a thick dark chocolate piping icing.

The cobwebs were incredibly easy to pipe – simply making a star out of 3 or 4 lines across the cake (intersecting in the centre), before slowly going round and making the webbing between each spoke.

A pinch of edible glitter and a few spiders later…

Inside the cakes were very generously filled, and the ultimate compliment came from Rob who said they tasted like Mr Kipling’s! The boy can definitely have more cake 🙂

To take to the cake club I popped the cupcakes into some halloween cupcake wrappers. Not quite as intricate as the cupcake wrappers I reviewed a few months back, but these ones (along with the spiders) had come free with the halloween special of My Cake Decorating magazine – you can see the whole amazing stash of halloween goodies over on my twitter.

Finally it was time for cake club! The cupcakes looked fab on a stand (and surrounded by eyeballs):

But not nearly as amazing as the great array of cake all put together!

Needless to say a fabulous time was had by all and I’ll definitely be heading back here again – all for a good cause of course 😉

Spiced Pumpkin and Treacle Tart

Who’d have guessed you could have a whole evenings’ fun with a pumpkin, and one that cost only £1 from tesco!

With Rob carving and me baking we had great (and tasty) fun; I can’t share an exact recipe as such as it was a bit of a make-it-up-as-you-go-along, but I hope it gives you some halloween inspiration.

The pumpkin was only little, about 1.5 kilograms in total, but perfect for us to have a little play.

I set Rob to work scooping (with the promise he could carve whatever he wanted to afterwards) – and am certain he had no idea what he was in for! About an hour later I ended up with about 600g of pumpkin flesh for my tart. In the meantime I’d made some wholemeal pastry, rested it for 1/2 hour, and blind baked my tart case (so it wouldn’t get soggy from the filling).

Because it was already in small bits from being scooped, I spread the pumpkin on a baking tray, sprinkled with brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, and a little ginger,  and roasted for 20 minutes.

Then I mixed in just a couple more ingredients – 2 eggs, a teaspoon of treacle and a sprinkle more sugar. The spices were already smelling great and after testing a little of the roasted pumpkin I decided not to add any more.

All mixed together, I poured the pumpkin mixture into the tart case and topped with a pastry pumpkin (art was never my strongest subject), before baking for about 20 minutes until just set.

A delicious smell of sugary spices wafting through the kitchen and the tart was cooked – perfect with some custard, ice cream, or even a splash of fresh cream.

Very little goes to waste in my kitchen – so I also spread the pumpkin seeds out on a tray (removing the yucky goopy stringy bits that hold it together), brushed them very lightly with olive oil, sprinkled with salt, and roasted for about 15 minutes. Tasty, healthy, and a great bonus to making pumpkin pie!

Oh and the pumpkin? Well, the boy done good! He had a whale of a time carving out the face, and sat proudly watching the candle flicker inside. And despite his despise for carving it out in the first place, apparently he is buying another at the weekend, bigger, more elaborate – and more pumpkin pies on the way!