I made an apple pie for Thanksgiving, but I had to have something pumpkin, too.

These are great for fall and into winter holidays. The pumpkin makes the cake so moist. People have loved these every time I’ve baked them, from office parties to family gatherings.

Double the recipe below for a “normal” batch, I wanted the just nine that this made.

pumpkin cupcake wrappers
I was given these cute pumpkin wrappers a few years ago. I was happy to finally use them!

I’ve done these before with cinnamon icing, but I decided to double down on pumpkin. I was worried that the frosting wouldn’t work out, the butter and pumpkin did not cream together as one recipe I saw describe them as doing. It worked out once I started adding the vanilla and powdered sugar, though!

Pumpkin Frosting

Recipe: Pumpkin Cupcakes and Frosting

Makes 9 cupcakes

1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons white sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground clove
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
5 oz. pumpkin purée (use canned or fresh, but make sure it is pure pumpkin - this is 1/3 of a 15 oz. can or a bit more than 1/2 cup)
FROSTING:
1/2 stick unsalted butter
3 oz. (a bit less than 1/2 cup) pumpkin purée
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 pound powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350° F, and line your tins with 9 liners.

Beat the butter and two sugars on medium until creamed. Add the egg.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour with the baking powder, baking soda, and spices.

Add the vanilla extract to the buttermilk.

Alternate adding the wet and dry ingredients until just combined, then mix in the pumpkin purée.

Scoop into tins with a ice cream scoop or your preferred method, filling about 3/4. Bake for about 22 minutes, turning halfway through. Cool for 5 minutes in pans, then cool completely on a rack before icing.

For frosting: Beat together the room temperature butter and pumpkin purée until as smooth as possible. Add the vanilla and spices. Slowly add the powdered sugar, mixing well.

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Thanksgiving is coming! Traveling? Baking an apple pie?

Slice of Apple Pie

Last year, I spent Thanksgiving with my husband’s family, and my mother-in-law asked me to bring a pie. I was happy to provide the pie, but I wasn’t sure how to get it to upstate NY in primo condition. I’ve been foiled before by train heaters and bumpy car travel. After much consultation with friends (and my bestie, the internet), I decided to make the dough and filling separately to transport, then assemble and bake upon arrival.

Ingredients

I made the French Apple Pie from The Cotton Country Collection, a cookbook almost everyone in my north Louisiana family owns. This recipe incorporates a custard and apricot preserves into the pie filling.

I baked with Golden Russets from Red Jacket Orchards in Geneva, New York.

This heirloom apple has a firm flesh with an intense sweet-dry flavor. It is a great keeper and very versatile for eating, cooking and juicing.

I also added one Granny Smith to make up the required amount and add some variety, always nice in apple pie.

Prep

I made the dough ahead of time, divided it into 2 and froze each piece in plastic wrap. I cooked and spiced my apples and froze them in a gallon freezer bag.

Frozen Apple Pie FIlling

The night before traveling, I made the custard, which I refrigerated.

On travel day, the frozen items went in a tote to cool during the train ride, and the custard traveled with an ice pack in a cooler bag. (Note that you likely could not do this for plane travel due to liquid constraints. In that case, I would probably freeze a prepared but unbaked pie to carry with me.)

Assembly

I was more grateful than stressed by my mother-in-law’s help with the pie construction. She definitely has more experience with pie-baking than I do. She started hands-off but couldn’t help but get involved! It was fun to do together.

Cut Out Pie Crust
I used a small heart cookie cutter to cut holes in the top crust.

Have a tasty Thanksgiving!

Baked Apple Pie

See also my blog post at Farm2Me about freezing pie filling (for a more basic apple pie recipe) prepared with all your extra autumn apples!

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For Sugar Rush for Relief, I baked two different types of cupcakes—vanilla and pumpkin. I made regular vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream and pumpkin cake with cinnamon-, clove- and nutmeg-spiced frosting. (If you are looking for a recipe, the pumpkin were similar to these without the cranberries and with the additional spices in the frosting.)

spiced pumpkin cupcakes

I’d love comments from any who bought them at the bake sale, as it’s the first time I’ve baked and packaged a big batch. I hope they were a pleasing addition to your Thanksgiving dessert table. Thank you for supporting New York Cares!

vanilla cupcakes by amelie

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pumpkin cupcakes

I’ll be hosting a Thanksgiving dinner this year. Since this will be a first, a practice round was in order. I gathered some willing participants for this Thanksgiving-in-October over Columbus Day weekend. They made sides, my boyfriend and I did the turkey, dressing, and, of course, cupcakes.

I ran a poll on my Facebook Page to decide what to bake: What is your favorite fall ingredient? The top response was pumpkin (not surprised!), so I knew I had to include this classic fall ingredient in my Thanksgiving cupcakes.

I made the Pumpkin Cupcakes from Smitten Kitchen, though I gave them my own twist, adding cranberries to the batter. I love muffins with fresh, whole cranberries that burst as you bite through, but I couldn’t find any fresh cranberries. I used a dried version, so no bursting, but they did give a little something to the cupcakes.

Smitten Kitchen’s version uses maple icing, but I was set on doing cinnamon. I’d wanted to keep it subtle, so I used half a teaspoon of ground cinnamon in what was probably about a batch and a half of vanilla buttercream. Well, I can’t quite imagine it being more cinnamon-y. Subtle, it was not!

piping cinnamon icing
Piping the cinnamon icing with a 1M tip

Because I’d skipped the maple-cream cheese frosting in favor of the cinnamon buttercream, I considered drizzling maple syrup over the top. However, I decided that would be too sweet. When I tasted the plain cupcake, I knew what I needed—more of the tangy cranberry taste!

I let a handful of dried cranberries soak in hot water (just enough to cover) for about 30 minutes, then took my hand blender to them. I added this to 1/2 cup of sugar, a tablespoon of cornstarch, and some lemon juice, cooking until it thickened. I let it cool, then put it through a strainer.

I imagined drizzling the syrup artfully over the cupcakes, but it was a little thicker than I’d anticipated. Perhaps I should have skipped the cornstarch for this purpose, or used less. I first tried pouring the cranberry syrup from a pitcher, but it was just too thick. Spooning was worse. I finally settled on pushing through a small funnel.

Cranberry Syrup
Pouring, spooning, funneling

At any rate, I managed to get the syrup/sauce on my iced cupcakes. And I have a nice amount of cranberry syrup leftover, ready to go on pancakes or ice cream! Or more cupcakes…

I worried there would be too many components, but the sweet spiciness of the icing and cake melded well with the tangy sweet cranberry. I recommend giving these cupcakes a try, if you want an alternative to pumpkin pie at your Thanksgiving meal!

pumpkin cupcake with cranberry syrup

The day for “Fakesgiving” turned out to be unseasonably warm, I believe it hit the mid-80s. Not out of the ordinary in my home state of Louisiana, where I sometimes wore shorts to pick out my Christmas tree, this is unusual for New York. Hopefully the real Thanksgiving will be more seasonable.

Happy fall!

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