Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cinnamon Swirl Frosting

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Blog readers – get ready for the biggest event of the year. It’s October, which means it is Pumpkin Month! All month, Ellie and I are going to be posting recipes that use pumpkin all month and we are so beyond excited! We ❤ fall. Even though fall in New England is very different from fall in California, I can still pretend that the leaves are changing color and that I need to wear sweaters all the time. 😛 Seriously though, fall is the best time of year.

These cupcakes are incredible. The best recipes come when you’re baking with friends, and this recipe is proof. S, N, and I frosted these together. Don’t you love the swirled, two-color effect (special note to those of you in my English class: not affect)?  We chose purple and orange for Halloween, but you could do this with whatever colors you want. Speaking of amazing fall frosting, one of my fave bakeries posted this on Instagram the other day. Beautiful! So are the flavors in this cupcake. Pumpkin bread is my favorite fall dessert (funnily enough, I’m not a fan of pumpkin pie), and that’s what these cupcakes taste like. The cinnamon frosting tastes like fall itself! There are no words for the combination of cinnamon and pumpkin.

Such exciting things happening right now! Ellie just got a puppy! I have always been a dog person, and I think puppies are God’s gift to the world. Plus Yogi the Schnoodle is absolutely adorable. He gets his own blog too! Yay!

As you can tell, I’m very excited. You will be too, once you try these cupcakes.

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cinnamon Swirl Frosting (cupcakes adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction)


  • for the cupcakes:
      • 1 and 3/4 cups (220g) all-purpose flour
      • 1 teaspoon baking powder
      • 1 teaspoon baking soda
      • 1/2 teaspoon salt
      • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
      • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or use a pinch each of ground ginger, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, ground cloves, and ground allspice)
      • 2/3 cup (133g) packed dark brown sugar
      • 2 large eggs
      • 1 cup (227g) pumpkin puree (canned is best here)
      • 1/2 cup (120ml) vegetable oil
      • 1/3 cup (80ml) milk
      • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • For the frosting:
      • 2 sticks of butter, softened
      • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
      • 2 tablespoons milk
      • 2 teaspoons vanilla
      • 3 teaspoons cinnamon
      • Optional: for swirl effect, 2 colors of gel food coloring (I used purple and orange for halloween).

To make the cupcakes:

Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Spray a 12-count full-sized muffin pan with non-stick spray or line with cupcake liners.

  1. First, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger into a medium bowl.
  2. In another medium bowl, whisk brown sugar and eggs together until thoroughly combined.
  3. Whisk pumpkin, oil, milk, and vanilla into the brown sugar and eggs.
  4. Pour wet ingredients into the dry and mix just until combined, being careful to not overmix the batter!
  5. Pour batter into the prepped muffin pan and bake for 17-18 minutes. Allow to cool completely (I’m impatient, so mine go in the fridge) before frosting.

To make the frosting:

  1. In a stand mixer, beat butter until smooth, about 1 minute.
  2. Add powdered sugar and beat for 2 minutes.
  3. Add milk, cinnamon and vanilla and beat until combined, about 1 minute. To frost, use a piping bag and tip (I used a wilton 1M) or a plastic bag with one corner cut off. Or, try the swirl technique below.

For the swirl:

  1. Divide frosting into 2 bowls.
  2. Add one color to each bowl, and mix thoroughly.
  3. Place your piping bag into a tall glass, pulling a “cuff” over the top.
  4. Using a spatula, stuff one color into half the piping bag.
  5. After rinsing your spatula, use it to stuff the other color into the other half of the piping bag. The two colors should be SIDE BY SIDE, not stacked.
  6. Pipe frosting onto your cupcakes and admire the swirled effect!

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Red Velvet Cake

Attention, readers! Here in the Palo Alto kitchen we have a science-defying, diet-busting, jeans-shrinking, mind-blowing red velvet cake. This distinctly Southern delight was inspired by a certain character in a certain play that a certain theatre class is certainly performing soon! That would be Clairee Belcher in Steel Magnolias, people. Yup, that’s the one where (SPOILER ALERT) everyone cries. The absolute tear-jerker of a play manages to be hilarious, devastating and breathtakingly written at the same time. I get to bring to life the matriarch of the whole thing, the epitome of a proper Southern lady (not unlike a particular grandmother [yup, Gram, I’m talking about you]). Clairee is sweet and sassy and she inspired this cake. The cake itself is a bomb.com recipe from the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York. I got it from a woman who found it in her shed with a note that said that the recipe-recorder had paid $250 dollars for it.

The decorations were – an adventure. I, being the Buzzfeed addict that I am, was inspired by one of those classic Buzzfeed lists, this time about cake decorating. Unfortunately, once I’d melted my chocolate, with which I was going to artfully pipe out some pretty decorations, I added cold milk. This turned my nice, melted chocolate into basically chocolate clay. I will let you in on a secret, readers. I am a baker. I am not a decorator. Decorations are usually the weakest part of whatever I am baking. Hopefully I will improve with time, but it is a work in progress. Riley Guggenhime, if you’re reading this, THANK YOU! you are a decorating lifesaver. So here it is. The cake that tastes delish, has a beautiful red color, and which broke the no sugar pact I’d been keeping up for a week.

Note: Try this substitute for cake flour: 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons regular flour, 2 tablespoons cornstarch. You can put the cornstarch in the bottom of your measuring cup. For buttermilk, try this: 1 teaspoon white vinegar or lemon juice with 1/2 cup milk. Stir and let sit for 5 minutes. I learned that from Sally – thanks, Sally!

Waldorf Astoria Cake from Food.com:

Makes two 8-inch round layers.

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 1cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 ounces red food coloring (I used “christmas red” gel)
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa (heaping)
  • 1 cup buttermilk (see note)
  • 2 1cups cake flour (see note)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  1. In a stand mixer, cream butter, sugar and eggs.
  2. Make a paste with red food coloring and cocoa. It will basically still look like cocoa powder, your paste will not turn red. Add to mixer.
  3. Combine flour and salt, then add half to the mix.
  4. Add half your buttermilk, then the rest of the flour and salt.
  5. Now, add the rest of the buttermilk and mix.
  6. Add vanilla.
  7. Create that super fun reaction with the baking soda and vinegar together (let out your inner second-grader!) and wait for it to stop bubbling a bit to add it to the mix.
  8. Pour into greased and floured cake pans (I also put parchment paper circles on the bottoms of mine), and bake at 350˚ for 24-30 minutes.
  9. Let cool and frost.

Cream Cheese Frosting from the Food Network:

  • 4 ounces butter
  • 4 ounces soft cream cheese (I used low fat neufchâtel cheese)
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Combine butter and cream cheese in a stand mixer.
  2. Add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, with mixer on s l o w  s p e e d.
  3. Beat in vanilla.

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and yes, I am burning the almost-midnight oil to post this. you’re welcome. 😉

Vanilla Bean Cake with Strawberry Whipped Cream!

Who here LOVES strawberries? I know I do!!!! If you do, this cake is just for you! From the vanilla bean scraped into the cake, to the delicious strawberry filling, to the homemade strawberry whipped cream, this cake is to die for! A few days ago, my friend Michaela and I decided we wanted to make a cake. Not just any old cake, but a layer cake! So we went into Sally’s Baking Addiction (one of our favorite blogs) cookbook for help. When we found this recipe, we knew it was meant to be :).

This cake is one of my favorites! The vanilla bean in the cake itself really makes it the best. What about the gooey strawberry filling that just melts in your mouth? Serious yum! We started making the cake with the idea of a slice of cake and a cold scoop of ice cream in our head…hoping for it to be as good as our thoughts!

Overall, this cake was a success! It is sooooo good and I would totally recommend it to anyone who loves cake!


This is a variation of Sally’s Baking Addiction’s Vanilla Bean Cake with Strawberry Whipped Cream made by Eleanor in the Hingham kitchen!


  • 3 cups strawberries (about 15 medium-sized strawberries)
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch


  • 3 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ plain or vanilla yogurt
  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean* (link below for video on how-to)

Strawberry Whipped Cream:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract


  1. PREP: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray three 9 x 9 x 2 in round cake pans with PAM©, or another non-stick cooking spray. Set the pans aside.
  2. MAKE THE FILLING: Dice the strawberries into small slices and warm the in a small saucepan over a medium heat. Stir them for about 3-4 minutes, or until the strawberry juices have released. Stir in the sugar and cornstarch and combine until there are only a few large strawberry chunks left. Remove from the heat and allow for it to cool while you make the cake. The mixture should resemble the consistency of spreadable jam.
  3. MAKE THE CAKE: Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt with a whisk together in your largest bowl. Set aside. Melt the butter and place in your second largest bowl. Whisk in the sugar, eggs, yogurt, milk, vanilla extract, and vanilla bean seeds until the mixture is combined. Slowly combine the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until very few lumps remain. Do not over-mix the batter, it will be extremely thick.
  4. Divide the batter into three even sections and pour into the three cake pans. Bake for 22-24 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when you insert it into the cakes. Loosely place a sheet of tin foil halfway through baking, to prevent the tops from getting too brown. Allow for the cakes to cool in the pans on a wire rack after taking them out of the oven.
  5. MAKE THE WHIPPED CREAM: Using a hand-held or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment in a metal bowl, whip the cream, sugar, and vanilla extract together on high speed until stiff peaks begin to form, about 3-5 minutes. Beat in ½ cup of the cooled strawberry filling for another 30 seconds.
  6. ASSEMBLE THE CAKE: Trim the top of the cake if they look a slanted. Place one cake on a plate or a cake stand. White a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with half of the strawberry filling. Repeat with the second cake and the rest of the filling. Place the third cake on top, and spread the top and sides with the whipped cream. Decorate with strawberries if desired. If covered, this cake can be stored for up to four days in the refrigerator.

TA-DA! You have a yummy cake!

*Link: how to scrape a vanilla bean

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