It is as American as apple pie. Although I find it nigh on impossible to look at an apple pie without sniggering or muttering “Band Camp” to myself.
Thanksgiving is held on the 4th Thursday of November, which this year is the 24th. Similarly to harvest festivals held throughout Europe, the first American Thanksgiving was held to celebrate the harvest and a year in a new land by the European settlers who had arrived on the Mayflower a year before.
Traditions abound, the President pardons a turkey, then presumably will sit down for dinner usually consisting of the pardoned turkey’s less fortunate cousin. Cranberry sauce accompanies the turkey and pumpkin pie is served for pudding.
The cranberries and pumpkin pie gave me the inspiration for these cupcakes, which are based on Sarah’s recipe. Rather than use tinned pumpkin pie mix I roasted a pumpkin and blitzed it with milk with a stick blender, left over pumpkin is delicious in smoothies.
In an effort to get more done last night I switched off the phone and laptop and went cold (Thanksgiving) turkey on twitter, blogs and the internet in general. I have to admit that I twitched just a little bit and tried to reach for my Blackberry more than once, but feel refreshed after 12 hours off grid. I am fairly sure that our brains are not designed for such constant stimulation?
Cakes were baked last night. Buttercream coloured and prepped and fondant stars cut. All ready for assembly this morning.
I had a big batch of buttercream in the fridge ready for colouring (Sarah’s idea) it keeps for ages. I reckon that you need just over an ounce per cake. I use gel colours, the liquid ones change the consistency too much, particularly when you are aiming for a darker colour. Disposable piping bags are an essential, I try to live a green a life as possible, and I hate the use once aspect to them, but really life is too short to wash a piping bag! Use disposable and be extra diligent on sorting your recycling to assuage any guilt. Klippits (from Lakeland) are essential for sealing the buttercream into the bag until you are ready to use it.
Inspired by the traditional American feast, but far easier to cook!
- 55 g butter or baking marge I use Stork
- 120 g brown sugar
- 1 egg free range please
- 35 g roasted pumpkin
- 55 ml milk
- 1/2 tsp lemon juice
- 125 g plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp all spice
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- Handful dried cranberries
- 75 g butter
- 250 g icing sugar
- Food colourings
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1-2 tbsp milk
Cream the butter and sugar together with a hand held mixer or in your stand mixer. Put the pumpkin, milk and lemon into a container and whizz with a stick blender. Add to the butter and sugar mixture together with an egg. Mix well.
Sieve the flour, baking powder and spices and fold into the batter. Fold in the cranberries.
Line a bun tin with fairy cake cases. Fill each case 2/3 with batter and bake at 190C / GM 5 for about 12 minutes.
The buns are done when risen and springy.
The secret to fluffy buttercream is to beat the butter really well before you add any sugar. I have also recently learnt the hand trick of making butter cream in the food processor to prevent the kitchen being covered in clouds of icing sugar. You can make it with a hand mixer, but will need to add the icing sugar slowly to the butter.
Put the butter in the food processor bowl and process for a minute or so, until soft and fluffy. Pour in the icing sugar and milk, put the lid back on and cover with a damp tea towel, and process again. Scrape the sides down, add your vanilla and colouring, and more milk or icing sugar if needed and process again.
Pipe red and blue roses onto each cake and sprinkle with white fondant stars.
If buttercream is too sweet for you make a crunchy lemon topping by mixing equal volumes of lemon juice and caster sugar, stirring well and spooning over the cakes.