So… I’ve managed to acquire cuts on the tips of both my index fingers. One resulted from struggling to get into a plastic carton of grapes (nope, I’ve no idea how I managed it either, but so much for being healthy and eating fruit). The other came from a minor altercation with a cable tie (again, I’ve no idea either). Now that we all know that I’m rather skilled at picking up random injuries (you’re perfectly welcome to laugh), my main point is that it hurts a little to type, so I’m going to try and keep this post short (ya, I know, ha ha ha – try is the key word there, ok?).
The majority of the bloggers that I follow are based in the northern hemisphere, so for the last few weeks my Google Reader has been awash with autumnal flavours, pumpkin recipes in particular. Down here in the southern hemisphere it is, of course, spring, but it feels really strange to me not to be baking with pumpkins and apples and plenty of wintery spices in October, particularly with Hallowe’en coming up. It’s not so easy to completely reverse seasonal habits and expectations.
To get the need to bake with pumpkin in October out of my system, I decided to bake with kumara (sweet potato). I know that kumara and pumpkin aren’t the same thing, but pumpkin isn’t really in season any more. In terms of baking, I think they’re more or less interchangeable anyway. So I whipped up some spiced kumara cupcakes which turned out lovely and moist, thanks to the kumara. I love baking with kumara for precisely that reason. The spices come through wonderfully with the kumara in the cupcakes. All those flavours are beautifully balanced by the cream cheese icing and the subtle freshness of the lime zest. And as if they weren’t yummy enough already, I decided to top the cupcakes with roasted pumpkin seeds, just because. I think I’ve got the need for pumpkin-baking out of my system now. At least until Hallowe’en…
Spiced kumara cupcakes
The roasted pumpkin seed topping is entirely optional, but does add a lovely little extra something. There will be leftover pumpkin seeds, and they are great for a snack – store them in an airtight box. The cupcakes will keep for about two days in an airtight container, but are best eaten sooner rather than later.
For the cupcakes:
550g kumaras (sweet potatoes)
300g all-purpose flour
1½ tsp baking powder
1½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cardamom
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground nutmeg
Good pinch of salt
250g caster sugar
150 ml organic rapeseed oil (canola oil)
1 tsp vanilla extract
For the roasted pumpkin seeds (optional):
50g pumpkin seeds
2 tsp organic rapeseed oil (canola oil)
2 tsp dark brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
For the icing:
300g icing sugar
150g cream cheese
60g unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
Finely grated zest of 1 unwaxed lime
To make the cupcakes:
1. Preheat the oven to 205°C/fan 185°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
2. Scrub the sweet potato and pierce the skin with a fork. Place on the baking tray and roast for about 40 mins until there’s no resistance when a knife is inserted through the thickest part. Remove from the oven and allow to cool until it can be handled. Peel the skin off and roughly mash the flesh in a small bowl with a fork. Set aside.
3. Reduce the oven temperature to 175°C/fan 155°C. Line a couple of cupcake trays with liners or set out silicone cupcake moulds on a baking tray.
4. Sift the flour, baking powder, spices and salt into a medium bowl and stir together. Set aside.
5. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar together with an electric whisk until pale and very fluffy (this can also be done by hand, although it will take longer). Fold in the flour mixture with a spatula or wooden spoon. Then add the mashed sweet potato, oil and vanilla extract to the mixture and fold in until combined.
6. Split the mixture between the cupcake liners or moulds, not filling them more than ¾ full. Bake for 20-25 mins until risen and golden and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove the cupcakes from the oven but leave the oven on. Cool the cupcakes on a wire rack.
To roast the pumpkin seeds:
7. Line a baking tray with tin foil (aluminium foil). Mix together the pumpkin seeds and oil in a small bowl until the seeds are well coated. Then add the sugar and cinnamon and stir well. Spread over the prepared baking tray and bake, stirring occasionally, for about 30 mins or until the seeds are golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the tray.
To make the icing:
8. Once the cupcakes are fully cooled, prepare the icing. Prepare a piping bag with the nozzle of your choice (I used an open star Wilton 1M nozzle but a round one would also look pretty). Place the bag in a tall glass (this makes it much easier to fill).
9. Sift the icing sugar into a medium-sized bowl. Add the rest of the icing ingredients and whisk with an electric whisk (if you want to do it by hand, I’d advise using room temperature cream cheese – it’ll be a bit easier) until smooth and pale. Fill the prepared piping bag and then pipe sparingly onto the cupcakes (you’ll need all the icing). Sprinkle roasted pumpkin seeds over the tops of the cupcakes.
PS – Ok, so I didn’t manage to keep the post that short… But I realised that if I wrote most of the post on my phone, only my thumbs were required to type – sorted!