Happy halloween! Gluten-Free Spiced Pumpkin Cupcakes

Like many of you, this weekend my kitchen contained a pumpkin. Unlike many of you, I felt mine was just too precious to carve, so I did what comes naturally to me. I turned it into CAKE. Cupcakes to be precise – gorgeously light, subtly spiced, gluten-free ones.

These cupcakes provided a perfect opportunity to get in a bit more practice with sugarpaste, too – something of which I have very little experience – which was essentially like being left to my own devices for two hours with grown-up Play Doh. In other words – AWESOME.

I frosted them with orange buttercream, and got to work on creating outrageously cute toppers and decorations – not always uniform in style, but made with love and enthusiasm, nonetheless! This dinky witches hat is probably my favourite…

The recipe for the cake is adapted from a delicious butternut squash chocolate cake from the wonderful Red Velvet Chocolate Heartache, a book I bang on about to anyone who’ll listen, filled with gorgeous gluten-free (often low-fat) cakes made from vegetables.

It’s pretty unique in that it uses no butter at all in the actual cake – the fat element is made up of ground almonds, and its texture created by the grated vegetables. Now, if there’s anything I love more than cake, it’s guilt-free cake, and these little beauties come in at around 200 calories each – with frosting!

I warn you now – finely grating 200g of any unwilling veggie can be a little testing, but it’s well worth it – and quite therapeutic if you’ve got a little time on your hands.

Gluten-Free Spiced Pumpkin Cupcakes

Makes 14


  •  3 medium eggs
  • 160g caster sugar
  • 200g peeled and finely grated pumpkin
  • 140g white rice flour (or plain flour will do just nicely if you’re not bothered about gluten free!)
  • 85g ground almonds
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1tsp mixed spice
  • pinch of salt
  • 125ml buttermilk (I used greek yoghurt mixed with a little milk instead)

For the frosting

  • 85g butter
  • 85g icing sugar
  • 1-2 tbsp milk
  • few drops of orange food colouring (optional)


  1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees/160 fan/gas mark 4. Line your muffin tin with cases.
  2. Whisk the eggs and sugar in a large mixing bowl for about 4 minutes, until pale and fluffy. It will be quite runny at this stage, but that’s normal.
  3. Beat in the grated pumpkin, then flour, ground almonds, baking powder, bicarb, spices and salt.
  4. Add the buttermilk or yoghurt and beat until well combined.
  5. Pour into the cupcake cases until around 2/3 full, and bake for 20 minutes, or until golden on the top and a skewer comes out clean.
  6. Cream together your butter and sugar, using the milk to help them along. Add in your food colouring a drop or two at a time until you get your desired colour. Be wary of adding too much to get a vibrant colour as it will affect the taste and texture of the icing and it may become unusable (speaking from experience!)
  7. Once the cakes have cooled completely, ice and decorate as you like em – pumpkins, skeletons, eyeballs – the cakey world’s your oyster!


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