Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple-Cream Cheese Frosting

In the fall, my daughter would love to eat some sort of “pumpkin spice” item every day to celebrate the season. 😉 She loved these cupcakes!

These super moist cupcakes were delicious but it was the maple-cream cheese frosting that really put them over the top. The frosting was fabulously creamy with the perfect amount of sweetness.

The recipe was adapted from David Leite via smittenkitchen.com. I modified the method and used fine sea salt.

Yield: 18 cupcakes (with leftover frosting)

For the Cupcakes:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup firmly packed dark-brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin

For the Frosting:

  • Two (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 4 T (1/4 cup) pure maple syrup
  • pinch fine sea salt

To Make the Cupcakes:

  1. Heat oven to 350° (175°C), preferably on convection. Line a cupcake pan with 18 liners.
  2. In a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugars on medium speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, salt, and pepper into a medium bowl.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, to the mixer, scraping down the sides after each addition.
  5. Combine the buttermilk and vanilla extract in a liquid measuring cup.
  6. Alternate adding the flour and buttermilk mixtures to the mixer, beginning and ending with the flour.
  7. Beat in the pumpkin until smooth.
  8. Scoop the batter among the cupcake liners — you’re looking to get them 3/4 full. (I used a cookie scoop.)
  9. Bake the cupcakes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, rotating halfway through the baking time, about 19 to 20 minutes on convection or up to 20 to 25 minutes in a standard oven.
  10. Cool the cupcakes on racks completely before topping with the frosting.

To Make the Frosting:

  1. In a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter to combine.
  2. Add all of the additional ingredients and continue to beat on medium speed until fluffy.
  3. Frost the tops of each cupcake, swirling decoratively. (I used a pastry bag and decorative piping tip.)
  4. Refrigerate cupcakes for 30 minutes to set up frosting prior to serving.

Oatmeal Snickerdoodles

I made this twist on a classic snickerdoodle to share with friends at the beach while enjoying one of our last summer sunsets. Perfect. 🙂 The original recipe describes this version as being Early American, from Connecticut. They were thin with crisp edges and a more tender center.

The recipe was adapted from Cookies are Magic by Maida Heather. I had never baked cookies on foil which was recommended in the recipe to slow the browning process. Interesting! I modified the recipe to reduce the amount of cinnamon-sugar topping.

Yield: 50 cookies

For the Cookie Dough:

  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large or XL eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

For the Cinnamon Sugar Topping:

  • 1 T granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  1. Adjust 2 racks evenly spaced in the oven. Preheat to 400 degrees.
  2. Cut aluminum foil to fit 4 rimmed cookie sheets. (I used 4 half sheet pans and 1 quarter sheet pan.)
  3. Sift the flour, then measure.
  4. Sift the baking soda, salt, and cinnamon into the measured, sifted flour. Set aside.
  5. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  6. Add the vanilla and both sugars and beat well, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  7. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well.
  8. On low speed, gradually add the sifted dry ingredients, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula and beating until just combined.
  9. Stir in the oats.
  10. Using a cookie scoop (I used a 1 T cookie scoop), place by rounded scoops onto the prepared baking sheets, about 2-inches apart. (I placed 12 cookies per sheet on the 4 prepared sheets, and the leftovers on the quarter sheet pan.)
  11. Make the Cinnamon Sugar Topping by whisking the cinnamon and sugar together.
  12. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar generously over the scoops of cookie batter.
  13. Bake the cookies for 9 to 12 minutes, reversing the sheets from top to bottom and back to front as necessary to ensure even browning.
  14. After removing from the oven, let cookies rest on the sheets for a few seconds until they are firm enough to transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Summer Fruit Buckle

This very special breakfast treat was more clafoutis or bread pudding-like than coffee cake-like. It was eggy, moist, and loaded with fruit. Practically any combination of summer fruit could be used. I used blueberries, strawberries, and a yellow nectarine. Great.

The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I incorporated whole wheat pastry flour. I also reduced the baking time for a convection oven. The original recipe notes that the sugar can be adjusted by one or two tablespoons, reduced or added, depending upon the sweetness and tartness of the fruit used.

Yield: one 9-inch cake

  • 1/2 cup/114 grams (1 stick) butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing pan
  • 1/2 cup/100 grams granulated sugar, more for sprinkling
  • 1/4 cup/55 grams light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • finely grated lemon zest from 1 large lemon
  • 1 teaspoon/5 milliliters vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups/156 grams all-purpose flour (I used 100g all-purpose flour + 56g whole wheat pastry flour)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 1/2 cups summer berries and/or chopped fruit (a mix of blueberries, raspberries, blackberries or use any one kind)(peaches, nectarines, figs, or plums can also be incorporated)(I used 2 cups blueberries + 2 cups strawberries + 1 chopped yellow nectarine)
  •  cinnamon, for dusting, optional
  •  Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Butter a 9-inch round cake pan. (or coat with cooking oil spray)
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, add butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar and beat until light and fluffy.
  4. Add eggs one at a time, then add lemon zest and vanilla and mix until combined.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, nutmeg and baking powder, and whisk to combine.
  6. Add dry ingredients to egg mixture and mix until just combined.
  7. Gently fold fruit into the batter, then spread batter in pan and sprinkle lightly with more granulated sugar.
  8. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes in a convection oven, or up to 50 minutes in a standard oven, or until top is golden and cake is cooked through.
  9. Allow cake to cool, then sprinkle with cinnamon, if using, and confectioners’ sugar.

Funfetti Mini Bundt Cakes

My daughter and I made these mini cakes as a birthday surprise for her friend. ❀ Sprinkles=Birthday over here. Using red, white, and blue sprinkles would make these cakes a fun and patriotic Fourth of July treat.

The recipe was adapted from thebittersideofsweet.com. They can be served for breakfast or dessert! 🙂

Yield: 4 mini cakes

For the Mini Bundt Cakes:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour 
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1/2 cup sugar 
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt 
  • 1 large egg 
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt (I used whole milk Greek yogurt)
  • 1 tablespoon milk (I used whole milk)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted 
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
  • 1/3 cup rainbow sprinkles 

For the Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup Confectioners’ sugar 
  • 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons milk (I used 1 1/2 T whole milk)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
  • rainbow sprinkles
  • gel food coloring, optional
  1. Preheat the oven to 325° F, preferably on convection. (My pan has a dark, non-stick interior finish. Set the oven to 350° F if using a pan with a light interior finish.)
  2. Spray 4 wells of a mini bundt cake pan with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
  3. In large bowl, whisk together flour, baking power, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Set aside.
  4. In medium bowl, whisk together milk, yogurt, and eggs. Stir in melted butter and vanilla and whisk until combined.
  5. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Slowly stir until just combined. 
  6. Fold in sprinkles. Avoid over stirring.
  7. Using a cookie scoop, distribute the batter into the 4 prepared wells of a mini bundt pan.
  8. Bake for 17 minutes in a convection oven, or for 20-25 minutes in a standard oven, or until edges are golden. A toothpick inserted in the center of the cake should come out clean or with a few moist crumbs.
  9. Remove from oven, leave cakes to cool in pan for 5 minutes.
  10. Remove cakes from pan and allow to completely cool on wire rack.
  11. Once cool, make the glaze. In a medium bowl add milk, Confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla. Whisk until smooth. Tint with food coloring, if desired.
  12. Drizzle glaze over cakes. Top with sprinkles.

Ina Garten’s Vanilla Bean Brioche Bread Pudding

Our Father’s Day celebration involved grilling and baked goods. We started the day with a mini-bundt cake version of Alton Brown’s Strawberry Muffins. There may have been some leftover Strawberry Crumb Cake on the side too. My husband loves strawberry season. 🙂

Because he has been excited about experimenting with his meat grinder, my husband wanted to make his own burger blend for dinner. (This time, he used a combination of beef brisket and chuck steak. It was a success!) I made curly fries, corn on the cob, and a green salad with ice box buttermilk dressing to serve on the side. I think that he really wanted me to have time to focus on this incredible dessert!

This bread pudding recipe was adapted from Cook Like a Pro: Recipes and Tips for Home Cooks- a Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten. The “pro tip” in this recipe was to use melted vanilla bean ice cream as a shortcut crĂšme anglaise to drizzle over the top. It was rich, indulgent, and absolutely fabulous.

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

  • 8 to 9 ounces brioche (I used 6 slices of Trader Joe’s brioche)
  • 1 1/2 extra-large whole eggs (I divide an egg in half by weight)
  • 4 extra-large egg yolks
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 T granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • seeds scraped from 1/2 vanilla bean
  • confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
  • 7 ounces (1/2 pint) vanilla bean ice cream, melted, for serving (I used HĂ€agen-Dazs)
  1. Place the ice cream in a pitcher in the refrigerator to melt.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection, with a rack in the center.
  3. Cut six 3/4-inch slices of brioche. (Trader Joe’s brioche is pre-sliced.) Keep 3 1/2 slices whole. Trim the crusts from the remaining 2 1/2 slices; cut into 1-inch dice.
  4. In a single layer, spread the whole slices and cut pieces of brioche on a rimmed sheet pan. Place in the preheated oven for 5 minutes, to lightly toast the bread.
  5. Meanwhile, make the custard. Whisk the whole eggs, egg yolks, half-and-half, milk, granulated sugar, vanilla, and vanilla bean seeds in a large bowl, preferably with a spout. Set aside.
  6. Line a 2-inch deep baking dish with the whole slices of brioche, cutting them to fit in a single layer. (I used a 9 1/2-inch round, ceramic baking dish. An 8×8-inch square dish, or equivalent, could be substituted.)
  7. Distribute the diced brioche on top.
  8. Pour the custard over the top of the bread and press down lightly so that the bread is soaked with custard. Set aside for 10 minutes.
  9. Place the baking dish in a roasting pan large enough to allow the baking dish to sit flat. (I used a large roasting pan with handles. I also placed a silicone mat underneath the baking dish to prevent it from moving within the pan.)
  10. Pour about 1 inch of the hottest tap water into the roasting pan, being sure not to get any water into the custard.
  11. Cover the roasting pan tightly with aluminum foil, tenting the foil to make sure that it doesn’t touch the custard. Cut a few holes in the foil to allow steam to escape.
  12. Bake for 45 minutes.
  13. Uncover and continue to bake for an additional 30 to 35 minutes, until browned and set. Test by inserting a knife in the center- it should come out clean.
  14. Dust with confectioners’ sugar. Serve warm, drizzled with melted ice cream.

Nigella Lawson’s Strawberry Sour Cream Streusel Cake

Every year, we make a double batch of strawberry shortcake cookies to share. This year, I had the intention of sharing this cake as well, but…oh my! We ate the entire cake (well, almost) in one sitting. Oops.

My husband said that it was one of his “favorites” and my son described it as “like our homemade strawberry ice cream- but warm.” ❀ It was slightly crispy on the outside, moist on the inside, and the strawberry filling oozed just perfectly.

The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Nigella Lawson. I incorporated whole wheat pastry flour, unsalted butter, coarse salt, used homemade strawberry-vanilla bean jam in the filling, and modified the baking time.

Although similar to one of our favorites, warm strawberry crumb cake, it was different enough for me to justify indulging in both this strawberry season. 🙂

Yield: one 9-inch cake

For the Strawberry Purée:

  • 8 ounces strawberries
  • 3 tablespoons strawberry jam
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For the Cake:

  • vegetable oil or cooking oil spray, for greasing the pan
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup plus 2 T all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, sifted
  • scant 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

For the Crumb Topping:

  • 2 teaspoons Demerara or turbinado sugar

To Prepare Strawberry Purée:

  1. In a blender, combine strawberries and jam. (I used a Vitamix.)
  2. Make a paste of cornstarch and vanilla, and add to blender. Purée until smooth. Set aside.

To Prepare the Cake:

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Grease a 9-inch springform pan and place on a parchment paper-lined, rimmed baking sheet; set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. Sprinkle in butter cubes and incorporate with a pastry blender until mixture resembles large coarse crumbs. Remove 1/2 cup and set it aside.
  5. Combine the sour cream, egg and vanilla in a glass measuring cup. Add to the large flour mixture. Mix well.
  6. Using a little over half the cake batter, drop dollops of batter into pan. Pat batter across bottom of pan and about 1 inch up sides; mixture will be very sticky and somewhat uneven.
  7. Add the strawberry purée, making an even layer across bottom of pan and leaving a rim of dough above it.
  8. Cover with remaining cake mixture.

To Prepare the Crumb Topping and Bake:

  1. In a medium bowl, combine reserved 1/2 cup dough and Demerara sugar or turbinado sugar.
  2. Stir with a fork to mix. Sprinkle evenly over cake.
  3. Bake cake until lightly golden, about 35 minutes in a convection oven or up to 45 minutes in a standard oven. (I baked mine for 37 minutes on convection.)
  4. Cool completely before serving. (We ate it warm! This may have created the oozing filling- which we loved.)

Strawberry-Cornmeal-Olive Oil Snacking Cake

My family really embraces strawberry season. We can’t get enough freshly picked Long Island berries! 🙂 After making our essential Strawberry-Vanilla Bean Jam, I made this super moist, coarse-textured snack cake which incorporated my special jam.

I baked the cake a day in advance and served it for dessert with homemade Fresh Strawberry Gelato. Yes, it was over the top! We ate the leftovers for breakfast. In retrospect, although it is sweet enough to be a dessert, I think that I would serve it for breakfast, or as a special snack with tea or coffee, next time. It was a wonderful breakfast- such a treat.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Sarah Jampel. I modified the baking time and used homemade jam. The jam sinks to the bottom of the cake and, with the granulated sugar coating, forms a crispy, caramelized crust. Yum.

Yield: One 13×9-inch sheet cake

  • 8 to 10 oz strawberries, hulled, thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 238 g (1 cup plus 3 T) granulated sugar, divided, plus more for pan
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt, plus more
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for pan (or use cooking spray for pan)
  • 188 g (1 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 60 g (1/2 cup) cornmeal, preferably finely ground
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 T sour cream
  • finely grated zest of 2 lemons
  • 3 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup strawberry jam, stirred (original recipe recommends Bonne Maman Intense)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°, preferably on convection.
  2. Gently toss strawberries, 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar, and a pinch of coarse salt in a medium bowl. Let sit, stirring occasionally, until ready to use.
  3. Grease a 13×9-inch metal baking pan with oil or cooking spray. Line with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on 2 long sides.
  4. Grease parchment with oil or cooking oil spray. Generously sprinkle pan and parchment with sugar, tilting to coat pan in an even layer; tap out excess.
  5. Whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, 200 g (1 cup) sugar, and 1 teaspoon coarse salt in a medium bowl.
  6. Whisk eggs, egg yolks, sour cream, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla in a large bowl until well combined.
  7. Add dry ingredients to sour cream mixture and whisk gently to combine.
  8. Using a spatula, gradually fold in 3/4 cup oil until batter is smooth and homogenous with all of the oil incorporated.
  9. Scrape batter into prepared pan and spread evenly.
  10. Stir the strawberry jam to make more fluid. Using a small spoon, dollop jam onto surface. (I made 36 small dollops over the surface of the cake.) Using a butter knife or small offset spatula, gently swirl jam into batter.
  11. Arrange reserved strawberries on top of batter in even rows, touching at widest points. (You may have extra sliced berries; reserve for another use.) See note.
  12. Sprinkle all over with remaining 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar.
  13. Bake cake until risen and deeply bronzed with no damp spots in the middle, the sides begin to pull away from the pan, and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes in a convection oven or up to 40–45 minutes in a standard oven.

Note: Because the strawberries will shrink and sink a bit during baking (how much depends on their size and sweetness), make sure they’re placed shoulder to shoulder on top of the batter. (My design didn’t hold up very well during the baking process but no one seemed to mind.)

Do Ahead: Cake can be made 4 days ahead. Cover with foil or plastic wrap and store at room temperature.

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