Pumpkin Cupcakes

Well, hello October – you really snuck up on me this year!  I was just talking to a friend this morning and we both agreed September was a complete blur.  For me, the arrival of October means fall is finally here (even though technically it arrived a week or so ago).  It means a trip to the orchard for apples as well as a stop to pick up some pumpkins to decorate.  It also means the temperatures cool down enough that I don’t mind turning on the oven and baking all day with those orchard apples or the cans of pumpkin puree I’ve been hoarding in the pantry.  There’s not much better than a chilly fall day with the windows open, cool breezes blowing, and the aroma of baked goods in the air.

Pumpkin Cupcakes

I figured we’d start the month off with a pumpkin treat that’s both delicious and simple – cupcakes!  As I mentioned last weekend, we hosted a baby shower for one of my best friends and these cupcakes were one of the items I made to share.  My friend loves pumpkin goodies so these just had to be on the menu.  I have Bridget over at The Way the Cookie Crumbles to thank for helping me select this recipe as I was torn between a few, and fortunately she’d done a comparison last fall of just the ones I was considering.  She declared this recipe her clear favorite, and I agree that these are terrific.  They’re light and moist with great pumpkin flavor.

Pumpkin Cupcakes

It was a no-brainer for me to top the cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, as it’s one frosting it seems almost everyone can get behind.  In fact, as much as I enjoyed these cupcakes, I know they were simply a vehicle for the frosting for many others :)  I used my go-to cream cheese icing recipe from Martha Stewart, which I’ve professed my love for many times here.  I find lots of frostings fussy and not consistently good, but this particular recipe has never let me down.  Always delicious and just the right texture for piping.

Pumpkin Cupcakes
adapted from David Leite (as seen on The Way the Cookie Crumbles)

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk mixed with 1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Line your cupcake pans with 18 liners.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and both sugars on medium speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and salt into a medium bowl.

One at a time, add the eggs to the mixer, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Alternate adding the flour and milk mixtures, beginning and ending with the flour. Add the pumpkin and beat until smooth.

Divide the batter equally between the cups. (They’ll be about 3/4 full.)  Rap the filled pans once on the counter to release any air bubbles.  Bake the cupcakes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes.  Transfer the pans to wire racks and after 5 minutes, remove the cupcakes to the racks to cool completely before frosting.

Makes 18 cupcakes

Cream Cheese Frosting
from Martha Stewart 

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Beat butter and cream cheese with a mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low. Add sugar, 1 cup at a time (scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally), and then vanilla; mix until smooth.

The frosting can be made up to 3 days in advance.  Refrigerate until needed, then bring to room temp and beat until smooth before using.

Makes about 4 cups