Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

Look at me! I’m a .com! 

I assume most people love making cupcakes, and that they find them fun and enjoyable. I do not. I find them fiddly and annoying. 

I haven’t been able to adopt the technique of Martha and many others in using an ice cream scoop for equal and accurate filling, nor have I mastered the art of using two spoons to fill two thirds of a flimsy little paper case with cupcake mix. 
Cupcakes are creatively stunting. There is only so much you can do to the basic mix of a cupcake or muffin to make it fabulous.

I see cupcakes asdecor ative ornaments. On their own they are not attractive; when attractive they are virtually inedible. I also find they don’t stay fresh for very long without covering the top with something to prevent them drying out, whether they’re in a tin or not – what is with that?

But ’tis the season for pumpkin and spice so I couldn’t get out of doing some Halloween cupcakes. I was boring and recreated the same spider web effect on some of them as I used last yearI hate making cupcakes okay. It was slightly different as I made an icing to cover the cupcake first which was setting very quickly making it harder to pipe and drag the chocolate circles into it.

I made these with Selina so we took a piping bag each for the glaze and chocolate to get a little production line going with the cakes. 
I’ve said before that my parents aren’t particularly keen on thick layers of buttercream or icing on cakes and bakes, so I usually only decorate half the batch with it. We may have gone to the verge of overdoing it with the webs, zig zags, glitter and bronze nuggets.

I don’t even think cupcakes class as a bake. They’re more of a construction. Has anyone ever made a cupcake on GBBO? What would Paul Hollywood say?
I love eating them don’t get me wrong; I could binge eat at Hummingbird Bakery every day.
I think cupcakes go wrong with icing. I will, no doubt, be making cupcakes again. Some of my favourites are from Cupcake Heaven. 
Is there an art to cupcake love that I am missing entirely?

Halloween cupcake recipe adapted from The Best Ever Afternoon Tea Recipe Book

100ml mild or light olive oil 

175g light muscovado sugar
50g soft dark brown sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten 
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract 
275g grated pumpkin flesh – mine was fresh from the garden grown by Mummy dearest.
120g dried cranberries or sultanas
275g self-raising flour
2 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp ground ginger 

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) Gas 4 and line a cupcake or muffin tray with cases.

This mixture will bake to muffin like deliciousness, but if you put them in a cupcake case, are they a cupcake? I’m not sure, but Selina had bought these halloween cases from IKEA which were technically neither cupcake nor muffin sized. They had the base circumference which meant they could fit into my mini cupcake tray, but were taller than usual cupcake or muffin cases. Nevertheless, we filled them two thirds with cake mix and they were fine. 

In a freestanding mixer, beat the oil with the sugars until smooth. Add the egg and vanilla and beat well so the mixture doesn’t separate. Stir in the grated pumpkin and dried cranberries. 

Sift the flour and spices into the batter and stir until just mixed. You’ll feel the mixture getting firmer if you mix too long, which will result in drier cakes. 

Divide the batter between the paper cases. Bake for between 16-24 minutes depending on the size and depth of case you have used. Leave the cakes in the tray for around 10 minutes then place them on a wire cooling rack until they are cold. 

For the frosting

250g icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp ground ginger
2 tbsp ginger syrup from a jar of preserved stem ginger
juice of half an orange

My icing took a while to come together for some reason. Adding the orange juice 1 tbsp at a time, mix all ingredients together until you have a smooth frosting. Then feel free to go crazy with your decorations and colouring.

I got some bronze crunch from Waitrose and piped melted chocolate on top of the coloured frosting.

Follow Harleigh’s board Halloween Food on Pinterest.

Harleigh Reid
Harleigh Reid

I write about food and eat a lot.

Find me on: Twitter


  1. Gemma Lyons
    29th October 2014 / 10:05 pm

    The Cake was amazing! you are the best! #youarelikegod #iloveyourcakes

  2. 30th October 2014 / 4:05 pm

    Glad you liked it! Suggestions for the next one I bring in? I know now you only like cakeeeee haha

  3. Freck freclles
    31st October 2014 / 5:50 am

    Well done Harleigh you are so talented x

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