Another Magnolia bakery has opened up just down the street from my work. From first thing in the morning to last thing at night there is a line that winds out the door and onto Sixth Avenue in midtown. I stroll past the beautiful windows daily- the shelves neatly displaying jars of cup cake adornments and ingredients in a Martha Stewart-esque way. An industrial-sized Kitchen Aid sits in one corner with glossy butter cream icing beating away as a baker slowly adds sugar and the long glass covered display cases are lined with cupcakes designed to entice. And all I keep thinking as I stroll past this enticing little shop is: why are you people so crazy about these cupcakes? They are dry and taste of nothing but sugar. The overly ambitious swirls of icing, weigh down heavily on the pitifully dry cake bases and taste of not of butter but lard. These cupcakes do nothing for me and I find it so hard to believe that anybody throws the wrapper away feeling satisfied. Munching on sugar cubes would give me the same satisfaction, or lack there of. They are the Sarah Palin’s of the culinary world- attractive, maybe even enticing if you don’t think about it, but completely devoid of substance.
But then I’m not the biggest cake eater- which I probably should have let you in on first. If I’m going to sit down to eat cake then it has to be moist, rich in flavour, and utterly moorish– which Magnolias emphatically are not. As one who would not on most accounts break out into a freakish dance of joy over a cake and one loaded with pumpkin and spices to boot, I implore you to try these. Not only do they rise into beautiful ragged-peaked domes with ease and taste even better the next day but despite their small size they manage to remain dense and squidgy and just a teeny bit sticky. If comfort was a cake these would be they.
Pumpkin mini cakes
The recipe from these comes from the two geniuses behind Baked, a bakery in Redhook Brooklyn. If you do not have the Baked cookbook then I would highly recommend it. Their version of this recipe is called Pumpkin Whoopie pies (and you could make these this way too- on baking trays lined with parchment). They were so appealingly moist in the middles that I thought they would work better as muffins. They sandwiched two them together with a cream cheese filling, which I have omitted because I think their just perfect on their own.
Makes 32 mini muffins
Diet Facts: portion control is everything, mini does not mean eat more
200g/ 1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp ground cloves
200g/ 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
125ml/ 1/2 cup vegetable oil
370g/ 1 1/2 cups chilled pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/ Heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Spray 3 mini muffin tins with non-stick spray or line with paper liners. Whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and cloves.
2/ In a large bowl whisk together the sugar and oil to combine. Add the chilled pumpkin puree and whisk again. Whisk in the egg and vanilla to combine. Sprinkle over the flour mixture and whisk until just combined.
3/ Use a mini ice cream scoop to fill the muffin tins- you can fill all the way to the top with this mixture. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes- they should spring back when you gently nudge them with the tip of your finger. If they do not add an extra 2 minutes and check again. If you want to decorate these then I would recommend a simple mixture of icing sugar and the juice of an orange to drizzle over the top.