Halloween Pumpkin Cupcakes

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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!

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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

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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

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

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

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Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake

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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!

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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!

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Allotment Retirement Cake

happy retirement dad allotment celebration cake garden soil pumpkins courgettes carrots and cabbages easy fondant leaves

A couple of weeks ago my lovely Dad finally left his job of many, many years. As we’re still working through the great glut of pumpkins he gave us, what better than to make a cake with his own home-grown produce! He is an avid gardener and I’m sure will be spending a lot more time on the allotment from now on.

I used the same recipe as my Halloween Spiced Pumpkin Cake from a few weeks back, covering it in chocolate buttercream to imitate the soil. The vegetable patch I actually found quite easy to make – colouring up fondant in different greens and an orange, shaping, slicing, scoring the pumpkins, and shading the courgettes with a fine paintbrush.

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The finished vegetable patch – with the fondant simply ‘planted’ into the allotment by pressing gently into the still-wet chocolate buttercream.

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For the personal message on the cake, feeling less than confident with free-hand writing onto the cake, I used a matching piece of chocolate fondant, pressing in letter stencils before piping over with a light green icing.

happy retirement allotment gardeners cake stencil lettering

And to finish, matching ‘Dad’ personalisation on green fondant leaves set onto the cake board.

happy retirement dad cake with stenciled lettering personalised gardener with fondant leaves chocolate icing

A simple but pretty quick idea that I’m really pleased with the result of, and of course a very Happy Retirement to my Dad! I’m sure there’ll be more garden-produce bakes coming this way as he spends more time nurturing the allotment…

happy retirement dad allotment cake with vegetable patch personalised fondant details