Spiced apple cupcakes with caramel buttercream. A quintessential autumn treat in cupcake form!
I swear this year has been a complete blur and I just haven’t been able to keep up. I feel like it was only yesterday I was finishing my culinary diploma and straight after that I went on summer holiday. It’s Halloween today, later this week it’s Bonfire Night and very soon after that we will be celebrating Christmas. I’ve already had my taste testers reviewing some recipes I am hoping to share on the blog in time for Christmas. I can’t help myself as Christmas is my favourite time of year with all the sparkly lights and festive food, it’s just a fun and magical time spent with the closest people in my life.
On my last blog post, I spoke about how much I crave summer and warm weather, however I do still enjoy autumn. With cooler and shorter days, the crisp and chilly weather is a great excuse to have a cosy day in front of the TV watching way too many episodes of your favourite box set, sitting back and relaxing with a film and a giant bowl of popcorn or dedicating an entire afternoon to do some baking.
Recently I’ve been enjoying embracing autumn with bakes that combine cosy, warm spices. So today I’ve turned a quintessential autumnal treat into cupcake form. It’s no lie that I like baking cupcakes. I say like, but it’s more like love.
These apple cupcakes are not only fun to bake, but also delicious to make when you’re feeling in need of an indulgent treat. Best of all this recipe includes fruit, so technically these cupcakes are kind of healthy?
The cake itself isn’t too overly sweet, so the caramel buttercream enhances it perfectly. These cupcakes aren’t like the usual cupcakes I tend to make as they have more of a denser muffin-like texture opposed to a buttery, fluffy cupcake. However, they are still delicious and successfully incorporate the taste of apple and subtly warming spice flavour from cinnamon and ginger in each bite. The flavour and texture of the cupcakes is best on the day of baking, but they will keep at room temperature for a few days – we all agreed that the cupcakes were just as tasty, if not tastier after a couple of days.
To decorate the cupcakes I wanted to pick a buttercream flavour that complimented the apple. When considering ideas, caramel buttercream sprung straight to mind, so I stuck with that idea.
This caramel buttercream is made with a smaller quantity of butter, but as caramel/dulce de leche changes the consistency of buttercream, I like to add just a touch extra icing sugar to make sure it was thick enough and would hold peaks when piped. The buttercream requires only three ingredients, plus one extra if you decide to add a pinch of salt like I did. For me, just the smallish pinch of salt evens out the sweetness.
You know what they say, an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Well I’m thinking more along the lines of a cupcake a day keeps the doctor away! I’m not sure about you, but I like that logic!
175g (1 and 1/4 cups) plain/all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon (5g) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
60g (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
200g (1 cup) caster or granulated sugar
1 large free-range egg, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
90ml (6 tablespoons) buttermilk, at room temperature
2 medium apples (approx. 1 and 1/2 cups), peeled, cored and grated
150g (2/3 cup) unsalted butter, softened
375g (2 and 1/3 cups) icing/confectioners’ sugar, sifted
100g (3.5 ounces) caramel or dulce de leche
Pinch of salt
- Preheat oven to 180°C / 160 Fan / 350°F / Gas Mark 4. Line a 12-hole cupcake tin with paper cases.
- To make the cupcakes: In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and spices until thoroughly combined.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar until creamy and smooth for about 2 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and continue to mix for a further minute until incorporated.
- Add the buttermilk along with half the flour ingredients and mix until a few lumps of flour remain. Add the remaining flour and fold to combine. Finally, fold through the grated apple.
- Evenly divide the cupcake batter between the paper cases, fill each cupcake case about 3/4 full. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the cupcakes are risen and are starting to take on a golden shade. Check the cupcakes are baked all the way through by inserting a cake tester into the centre, if it comes out clean without any uncooked batter remaining then the cupcakes are ready.
- Leave the cupcakes to cool in the tin for a few minutes and then carefully transport to a wire rack. Leave the cupcakes to cool completely to room temperature.
- To make the buttercream: Place the softened butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Cream the butter for 2 minutes until smooth and pale. Add the sifted icing sugar in two batches and beat until combined. Cream on medium speed for 5 minutes, stopping the mixer halfway though and scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl to ensure everything gets combined. Finally, add the caramel and a generous pinch of salt and continue to mixing for another minute.
- Fill a large disposable piping bag fitted with a large star tip with the buttercream. Pipe the buttercream onto the cupcakes and finish by decorating with a drizzle of caramel and some fudge chunks if desired.
- I used cox apples to make these, however you can use braeban, bramley, gala or granny smith. You want to go for a relatively juicy apple, but not too juicy as this will affect the texture of the cupcakes and they may not bake correctly.
- If you want you can dice the apple instead of grating/shredding it. Just be sure to cut the apple up into a small dice.
- Buttermilk needs to be at room temperature. Leave the buttermilk out for at least an hour prior to baking the cupcakes.
- If you don’t want to get too fancy you can decorate the cupcakes by spreading the buttercream on rather than piping it if you’re not confident enough.
- Omit the spices if you’re not a fan.
- Decorating is optional, we loved the extra caramel drizzle on each cupcake and the fudge chunks. You could definitely be decorate these in many different ways, so have some fun and get creative!
- Recipe can easily be doubled to make 24 cupcakes if you’re wanting to make a bigger batch.
- Cupcakes will store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Cupcake recipe from Chowhound
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