Round Four of the Willow Bird Baking Challenges found me feeling particularly uninspired. My creativity had hit a wall. Add to that the theme to bake seasonally, and my brain stopped at pumpkin. But there has got to be more to autumn than pumpkin. Right? Turns out there is! Check out all of the other creative challenges here.
I eventually set out to make a brown sugar cupcake that I baked about this time last year. My intention was to fill the cupcake with a white chocolate mixture and top it all off with a simple vanilla frosting. As I flipped through my folder that holds copies of my Great Grandmother’s recipes (it was her brown sugar cake I referred to earlier), I first had to go past no fewer than four spice cake recipes.
What a minute, was that four spice cake recipes? For a round four challenge? Change of plans. That and I realized I had no white chocolate chips when I set out to bake. The innovation had begun.
More often than not, innovation and creativity in my kitchen is based on simply upon what I do and do not have available. Necessity truly is the mother of invention when I cook. I tend to exhaust my supplies before I go to the grocery. I do this because grocery shopping is one of my least favorite chores. I do not mind laundry or sweeping, but grocery shopping is right up there with car waxing on my “chores I dislike” list. Yet, I do it because it must be done.
Notably, I can get away with this because I do not have little mouths to feed. If I am left with a jar of peanut butter and rice, so be it.
Speaking of peanut butter and rice, sometimes innovation can go too far. I like playing Chopped! in the kitchen, but since I usually have only rice, eggs, cereal, soy milk, popcorn, coffee creamer, apples, and beer on hand, things tend not to get too out of hand. However, stir fry made with tuna and peanut butter can result when Chopped! is played among those who are not yet ready. Trust me, that dish is not good.
So about those cupcakes. Baking one of my great grandmother’s recipes really does call for some level of innovation as her recipes could easily double as lists. They are just ingredients. I have no idea how long to bake the cake or at what temperature or if I should pack the brown sugar. But you know, it really doesn’t matter.
I settled on the “Spice Cake – Lottie’s” recipe. One day I hope to get around to baking the one anonymous spice cake recipe and those attributed to Margaret and Leona. The cupcakes are filled with a sweet pumpkin dip and frosted with ginger cream cheese frosting. Ginger was the one baking spice missing from the cake, so it seemed appropriate to use it to complete this creation. Four down, one to go. Enjoy!
- For the Cupcakes
- 2½ cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ cup butter, softened
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup buttermilk
- For the Filling
- ½ cup canned pumpkin
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- For the Frosting
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- ½ cup butter, softened
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
- Whisk the flour, baking soda, and spices together and set aside.
- Cream the butter and brown sugar together until light and fluffy.
- Beat in the eggs.
- Slowly and alternately add the milk and flour mixture in two additions and mix until combined.
- Fill each well of a paper-lined muffin tin about ⅔ full.
- Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the cakes comes out clean.
- To make the filling, mix together the pumpkin, cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, and pumpkin pie spice until well combined.
- When cupcakes are cool, simply cut a "cone" from the center, place the filling inside, and top with just the top of the removed cone (cut the excess away).
- To make the frosting, place the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and ground ginger in mixing bowl and beat until combined.
- Slowly add the confectioner’s sugar one cup at a time, beating until the frosting is light and fluffy.