Autumn is by far my favourite season of the year. Not only is there ample opportunities for long walks on crisp, cold days, the food at this time of year is pretty spectacular.
After a long summer (most of which the sun was absent) it’s now the season for roast dinners, fruit crumbles, red wine and open fires and around this time I also like to over-indulge in pumpkin-flavoured bakes.
When I lived in San Francisco for a year I got to experience how much autumn is celebrated from street competitions where whole neighbourhoods went above and beyond to decorate their houses for Halloween to the classic Thanksgiving celebrations.
This year for Halloween I was visiting a long-time pal Sarah in Jersey, who I lived with in America and who will be my bridesmaid next year. Jersey is somewhere that really gets into the spirit of autumn with pumpkin patches across the island and houses decorated in intricately detailed pumpkin designs.
We decided to get into the spirit and carved a giant pumpkin, grown from seed by Sarah, into a cat. Despite the lack of design skills we managed a pretty successful cat/gerbil pumpkin.
To go along with the festivities, I made some pumpkin and cinnamon muffins. These two flavours go extremely well together and provide a really warm, comforting, homely taste (and smell).
I used canned pumpkin puree (but you could de-seed, peel and use an actual pumpkin) as I had some spare. The pumpkin adds a deep orange colour and a mild, light flavour while the cinnamon gives the muffins some extra spice.
They’re very versatile muffins and can be used as a quick breakfast if you’re running out of the house in a hurry or as a sweet treat at any other time of the day.
200g self raising flour
125g soft brown sugar (plus a couple of tablespoons for the topping)
80g caster sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
150ml vegetable oil
1 can of pumpkin puree (I used Libby’s)
1tsp ground mixed spice
A pinch of salt
What to put on top
100g icing sugar
How to make…
Preheat oven to 160°C (140°C fan) mark 3 and line a muffin tin with cases.
Mix the sugars and oil together until well blended, this should take about three minutes with an electric mixer or five without.
Add the eggs, one at a time, and continue stirring.
Plop in the pumpkin puree and stir gently and then sieve in all the dry ingredients. Mix everything together for around two minutes with a mixer (four without) and then pop the whole lot into your muffin tins.
Sprinkle the top of the cakes with a tablespoon of the brown sugar and then put them in the oven and set a timer for 30 minutes. They’re done when a knife stabbed into the middle of the cake comes out clean – or the surface bounces back when you touch it.
Once the cakes is completely cold, start making the icing.
Mix together the icing sugar with a drop of water and drizzle over the top of the cake. Sprinkle with the flaked almonds.