Pumpkin & Spice Cupcakes

Hints of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and allspice combine beautifully with the natural sweetness of roasted pumpkin and, when topped with a light and airy cream cheese icing, make these the Autumnal cupcakes of my dreams. Try and stop at one!

Note: it is best to make the pumpkin puree the day before.

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Ingredients (makes 12)
½ a butternut pumpkin (approx. 550g)
1 cup plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarb soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
¾ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Icing
225g full-fat cream cheese, room temperature
115g butter, room temperature
3 cups icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1¼ teaspoons ground cinnamon

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Method

To make the pumpkin puree, preheat oven to 180°C fan-forced. Line a large baking tray with baking paper. Peel and de-seed the pumpkin and cut into 3cm pieces. Bake for approximately 40 minutes or until pumpkin is golden and tender. Once cooled, blitz in a blender until silky and smooth. Refrigerate until required.

Preheat the oven to 180°C fan-forced. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with patty pans.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, bicarb soda and spices together in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. In a separate bowl, whisk 1 cup pumpkin puree, oil, eggs, brown sugar and vanilla until combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and gently stir with a silicone spatula until just combined.

Divide the batter evenly between the 12 patty pans. Bake for 18-25 minutes, or until the cupcakes bounce back when touched. Cool for 5 minutes in the tin before transferring to a cooling rack.

To make the icing, add the cream cheese and butter to a large bowl and beat with a handheld mixer on high speed until smooth and creamy. Add vanilla, cinnamon and icing sugar and beat on low speed until just combined. Switch to high speed and beat for 2 minutes until light and airy. If the icing is too runny, add extra icing sugar.

Once the cupcakes have cooled completely, spoon the icing into a piping bag fitted with a large star piping tip (I use Wilton 1M). Ice the cupcakes in a circular motion from the outside in for a softserve look. Enjoy!

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Recipe adapted from ‘Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting’ from Sally’s Baking Addiction.

Apple Pie

This year, in honour of Pi Day tomorrow (14th March, 3.14 – nerdy I know!), I made my first latticed apple pie. Heading into Autumn, apples are particularly sweet and delicious and they really shine in this pie. I’ve kept flavouring simple and traditional with just a sprinkle of sugar and cinnamon to enhance the flavour of the apples. I used red apples because that’s what we had in the house, but it would work well with granny smith apples as well (but you may want to add in a little more sugar). Happy baking!

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Ingredients (serves 8)
Pastry
1⅔ cups plain flour
1 tblspn caster sugar
¼ tspn baking powder
180g cold butter, chopped
⅓ cup iced water
1 tspn vanilla extract

5 apples peeled, cored and chopped
1 ½ tblspns lemon juice
⅓ cup caster sugar
4 tspns cinnamon
1 tspn vanilla extract
2 tblspns almond meal
1 egg, lightly beaten
Caster sugar, extra

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Method
To make the pastry, place the flour, sugar, baking powder and butter in a food processor and process until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. With the motor still running, add the water and vanilla and process until it comes together and forms a smooth dough. Wrap in Gladwrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

While your pastry is chilling, peel, core and chop your apples and grease a 22cm pie tin.

Preheat oven to 180°C. Place the apple pieces and lemon juice in a large, deep frypan and cook over a medium heat for 8 minutes or until tender. Carefully pour out approximately half of the liquid from the pan and then add the sugar, cinnamon and vanilla to the remaining mixture. Set aside to cool.

Take the pastry out of the fridge and roll out half of it with a rolling pin until it is 3mm thick. Carefully line the base of the pie tin with the pastry, trimming off any excess. Prick the bottom with a fork, then line with baking paper and top with pie weights or uncooked rice. Bake for 15 minutes and then remove the baking paper and pie weights and bake for another 10 minutes or until pastry is browned lightly.

Allow the pie base to cool slightly (around 5 minutes). Sprinkle the base of the pie with almond meal and then top with the apple mixture. Try to make the top as flat as possible to help with your pastry (you may have some apple mixture left over).

To make a lattice pie lid, roll out the remaining pastry until 3mm thick and cut strips of your desired width (I made 6 thick strips and 4 thin). Place strips evenly spaced on top of the pie, and weave them in a lattice design (see here for instructions). Cut off any excess and press down the edges of each strip so it links to the sides. Alternatively, roll out the remaining pastry into a large 3mm circle and drape it over the pie. Cut slits in the top of the pastry.

Brush your pie lid with egg and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until pastry is golden and crisp. Serve with cream or ice-cream and enjoy!

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Adapted from ‘High-Top Apple and Sultana Pie’ from Donna Hay’s Seasons.

Apple Streusel Muffins

We’ve had an abundance of delicious apples this season and so I wanted a recipe to showcase them, preferably in an easily portable package so we can take them to uni and work for lunches this week. These muffins fitted the bill perfectly, and smelled absolutely divine while baking. I love the crispy streusel topping as a contrast to the soft apple and fine crumb of the muffins.

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Ingredients (makes 12-14)
Streusel Topping
⅓ cup self-raising flour
⅓ cup plain white flour
⅓ cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
80g cold butter, chopped coarsely

40g butter
3 large apples, peeled, cut into 1cm pieces
2 cups self-raising flour
½ teaspoon mixed spice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
⅔ cup caster sugar
80g butter, melted, extra
¾ cup buttermilk
1 egg

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Method
Make streusel topping by processing flours, sugar and cinnamon. Add butter and process until combined. Roll dough into a ball, wrap in glad-wrap and freeze until required.

Melt butter in a large frying pan; cook apple, stirring about 5mins or until lightly browned. Add brown sugar and cook, stirring for an additional 5mins or until the mixture thickens.

Preheat oven to 200°C/180°C fan-forced. Line a 12-hole muffin pan with patty pans.

Sift flour, spices and sugar in a large bowl. Stir in the combined, extra butter, buttermilk and egg. Do not overmix. Stir in half the apple mixture.

Divide mixture among patty pans. Top with remaining apple mixture. Coarsely grate streusel topping over muffin mixture. Bake ~20mins.

Stand muffins in tray for 5mins before turning out, top-side up, onto wire racks to cool. Enjoy!

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Recipe adapted from the Australian Women’s Weekly ‘Little Pies and Cakes’ cookbook.

Rhubarb & Cinnamon Muffins

These are some of my favourite muffins and one of the most delicious ways to use rhubarb. The combination of the tart rhubarb and buttermilk with the crunchy sugar and cinnamon crust is a match made in heaven. Try them warm out of the oven and try and stop at one!

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Ingredients (makes 16)
For the rhubarb mixture
1 bunch rhubarb, washed, ends trimmed
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons sugar

For the muffins
1 cup rhubarb mixture
1 ¼ cups plain flour
½ cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
¾ cup buttermilk
¾ cup olive oil
1 egg

For the sugar-cinnamon crust
⅓ cup sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

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Method
Preheat the oven to 180°C fan-forced. Line muffin tins with 16 patty pans.

Chop rhubarb into small, even pieces and cook with water and sugar in a small saucepan over a medium heat until the rhubarb is tender and the sugar has dissolved. Stand for 5 minutes to cool.

Add flour, sugar and baking powder into a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Carefully pour in the buttermilk, olive oil and egg and gently stir to combine. Mix in the cooked rhubarb, being careful not to over-stir (note: the mixture is supposed to be very wet, don’t worry!)

Spoon mixture evenly into muffin cases & top with mixed sugar and cinnamon.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Top with extra stewed rhubarb and cream if desired. Enjoy!

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Recipe adapted from Grandma