spiced pumpkin cupcakes (vegan).

I’m fairly sure the first cupcakes I ever had came out of a box. You know the ones – just add eggs, water and butter, squeeze the sickly sweet icing out of a bag, and drop a little edible sticker of a cartoon character on top. I used to beg my mum to buy these, but I no longer remember whether it was because I liked the taste, or just wanted Minnie Mouse adorning my afternoon tea.

A quick browse of the supermarket’s baking goods aisle tells me that instant packet cakes are still very much in abundance. There seems to be a mix for everything, but I’m not brave enough to try any of them – especially given the absence of edible cartoon stickers these days.

For the most part, cupcakes are very simple – I don’t think you’d even save much time by using a packet mix, given you still have to bake them.

Vegan cupcakes are probably the simplest of the lot, because you don’t have to go through the bother of creaming butter and sugar, or worry about over-mixing the eggs. Just throw the ingredients into a bowl and combine well. The absence of dairy and eggs also makes them relatively inexpensive – ideal if you’re baking for hungry workmates, like I was when I made this batch.

Hope you enjoy the flavours. Sweets containing pumpkin are quintessentially American and, for whatever reason, quite uncommon in New Zealand. But in theory, it’s no different to putting carrot in a cake. Pumpkins are naturally sweet, and complement the spices in this recipe well. We’re at the tail of pumpkin season though, so make these soon!

Spiced Pumpkin Cupcakes (Vegan)

2 3/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup orange juice (preferably freshly squeezed, but bottled juice will work)
150 mL neutral-flavoured vegetable oil (I use rice bran), plus extra for roasting pumpkin
400 g pumpkin, peeled and roughly cut into 2-3 cm cubes
1 Tablespoon brown sugar

Recommended icing:
Cream cheese icing – this is not vegan unless you use dairy-free cream cheese, which I’ve never tried. Bear in mind that you’ll have to add quite a bit more icing sugar if you plan to pipe the icing. Get it to a consistency where it will not drip off your spatula if you scoop a clump out of the bowl – then it should hold its shape when piped.
An easy vegan option is vanilla buttercream, substituting butter for non-dairy spread such as Olivani.

  1. Preheat oven to 180˚C and line cupcake/muffin trays with cases.
  2. Put the pumpkin cubes in a greased, oven-proof roasting dish or tray and drizzle with a little oil. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the pumpkin and roast for 45 minutes or until very soft. Turn them once or twice during this time to stop the cubes from drying out.

    Sweet, well-roasted pumpkin

  3. While pumpkin is roasting, sift flour, baking powder and baking soda into a large bowl. Add salt, sugar and spices, and stir.
  4. When pumpkin is soft, cool for a few minutes then mash or blend until smooth. (I used a stick mixer, which worked a treat.)

    Fancy chefs call this a ‘smear’, but let’s be honest – it’s just mushy pumpkin on a plate.

  5. Add to the flour mixture along with orange juice and vegetable oil, then mix until smooth. I recommend using an electric mixer if you have one.
  6. Fill cupcake cases no more than 3/4 full. I use my trusty ice cream scoop for this – we first met it during cookie making.Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cakes comes out clean.

    I filled my cases half full…

    … Leaving room for the icing once baked.

  7. Cool completely, then ice.

I’m quite pleased with my icing efforts – will post a little photographic tutorial in the next couple of days!

© thebakingof 2012



  1. Wow! These look amazing. I wish I had your knack for food photography (see http://herbitift.wordpress.com for my disasters).
    I really love baking and worried that when I turned vegan my baking days would be over but I am finding so many lovely recipes out there. Thanks for sharing. Mark


    1. Hi Mark, thanks so much! I hope they turn out well if you decide to give them a go. I’m not vegan but have friends who are, so it’s nice to be able to bake for them. I’m a big fan of recipes like this one that don’t require me to go out and buy ingredients I wouldn’t normally have at home.

      1. We don’t often get pumpkins here in the UK apart from a few oversized creatures for Halloween. I’ll have to have a look for a farmer’s market 🙂

      2. You could substitute it for something similar – I’ve made this recipe with bananas (but without the spices) before! Use 1 cup of mashed ripe bananas, and just 125 mL of oil.

      3. Thanks for the tip – that will be perfect 🙂

      4. You’re welcome! Do try the pumpkin version in October – they’d be perfect for Halloween.

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