I truly love being a make-it-from-scratch baker. I love sifting, stirring, measuring, tasting, blending, and tasting some more. There are days, though, when a speedy mix can be my best friend.
Even better, a mix can be your springboard, your jumping-off point for experimentation. Why not? The basics are already done, your flour and leaveners are all in proportion so you can jazz up the flavors and work in some add-ins knowing you have a good solid base.
Here on the baker’s hotline we often get calls from customers who have a certain mix, but would like to play with it a bit. Think of it as a new twist on an old favorite. Let’s pick one of our popular mixes and give it a go, shall we?
Vanilla bean pound cake mix has been a hit since we introduced it. It’s a great base for so many toppings, but today we’re going to play with the spices a bit and make Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes.
Start by placing the mix in a large mixing bowl.
8 tablespoons very soft butter
1/3 cup pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
Stir together until the mixture is smooth. See those small little lumps? That’s what I get for rushing, and not letting my butter really get soft. Be the better baker, and take the time.
To that batter add 3 large eggs and 1/4 cup milk. These are the original liquids called for in the mix. The pumpkin will also add moisture, which helps these cupcakes rise up a little bit higher. They’ll still be more of a pound cake texture than a fluffy white cake texture, but to me that’s part of the charm of these treats.
Divide the batter among 12 paper-lined muffin cups. Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 15 to 18 minutes, or until the center tests clean with a toothpick. Remove the cupcakes from the oven and immediately turn them out onto a rack to cool completely.
Top with your favorite icing and grate a little fresh nutmeg over the top. We found that the fresh nutmeg is a lovely touch and very, very good.
I couldn’t resist adding a few fondant mushrooms to the tops of some of these cupcakes. After all, I’m a fun-guy! (I know, I know, but fun-gal just doesn’t make as good a joke!)
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Share your jazzed up mix recipes in the comments below.