My pumpkin chai cupcakes are inspired by the flavours of Autumn. They are the perfect compliment to sipping your favourite hot drink in a snuggly jumper.
If you’re a fan of chai tea lattes, then you will absolutely LOVE these pumpkin chai cupcakes. Please bookmark this webpage or PIN the recipe for later if you don’t have time to read through it now – I don’t want you to miss out.
Autumn is one of my favourite times of the year. This season brings us so much colour and delicious seasonal produce to enjoy. With pumpkin being one of the most apparent foods, these cupcakes are an excellent way to celebrate this ingredient.
The idea for these cupcakes was sparked by a similar cupcake recipe by Anna Banana, but I wanted to create a VEGAN version for you to make at home.
Pumpkin Chai Cupcakes
These beautiful cupcakes are quite simple to make from start to finish. Once you’ve made and tasted them, you’ll want to make them over and over.
The combination of these fragrant, aromatic and warming spices is heavenly and perfect for this time of the year.
Also, please don’t feel discouraged by the ingredients list. It may look a lot, but it’s not much more than any other classic cupcake recipes.
How have I made these pumpkin chai cupcakes vegan?
I always find it amazing that a simple handful of wet and dry ingredients combine to create CAKE. It’s awesome. For me, baking is both a science and an art.
The more we become familiar with baking, the more we’re able to tweak recipes to make them vegan and improve results as we practice. But to decide what to tweak, we first need to understand the science of baking.
In any baking recipe, every single ingredient has a purpose. For example, flour gives cakes their structure, while eggs bind the elements and baking powder/soda make it rise. Fats and sugars also have their unique roles in forming the perfect sponge.
Understanding the purpose of each ingredient and required proportions means we can replicate the science with the suitable plant-based substitutions to create the most delicious vegan tastes and textures.
Let’s take a closer look at the ingredients for these pumpkin chai cupcakes together.
These consist of self-raising flour, the spices, and rising agents (baking powder, bicarb’ soda, and a pinch of salt.) Since we are making a vegan recipe, we need to make sure we use dry ingredients and methods which will encourage a good rise. Hence why I use self-raising flour instead of plain and a combination of raising agents.
We’ve got softened vegan butter, golden caster sugar, silken tofu, pumpkin puree, vegan buttermilk (oat milk and ACV), vanilla essence and dairy-free yoghurt.
When you choose a vegan butter, you want something that tastes, acts and behaves very similarly to dairy butter blocks. I tend to use either the Vegan block by Naturli and recently
I have favoured Flora’s Plant Butter block. Both offer fantastic results in cakes and general baking.
Other vegan spreadable margarine can be disappointing, much like how dairy margarine isn’t favoured in baking – it’s due to the oil contents.
Vegan butter choice is critical for buttercream as well. Choosing a vegan butter block which ‘solidifies’ when refrigerated means it’s got a good structure. A good butter makes substantial buttercream that pipes well. Otherwise, you end up with sloppy and overly soft buttercream.
The vegan swiss meringue buttercream in this recipe is naturally far lighter than usual buttercream anyway – I love it.
Golden caster sugar gives these cupcakes a hint of caramel, and silken tofu provides the sponge with extra structure.
When it comes to pumpkin puree, you can buy this pre-made, or make it yourself by roasting pumpkin (peeled and diced) and blitzing it into a smooth puree using a blender. Along with the dairy-free yoghurt, these two create a lovely moist sponge.
The Buttercream for these Pumpkin Chai Cupcakes:
For these cupcakes, I’ve made a vegan swiss meringue buttercream which is DELIGHTFUL. I found the recipe for this here, and since have tweaked it to make it my own for this recipe. Instead of egg whites, I use aquafaba (chickpea juice), which works like a dream!
The first step to making this involves boiling the aquafaba and caster sugar together for a short time until the sugar dissolves. Feel free to do this in advance so you don’t have to wait for it to cool down.
Remember to allow the cupcakes to cool completely before you top them with the buttercream. If you’d like to create a similar whip to mine, then you can use a piping bag, and 1M 7-tip rose nozzle. Feel free to simply spread some of the buttercream onto each cupcake if you’re not too bothered about presentation.
Placing the cupcakes in the fridge for a while once there done will solidify the buttercream as you’d see with dairy butter. This makes them easier to handle for additional decoration. For example, if you wanted to apply gold leaf or gold edible paint etc. This is something you might want to consider if you’re baking them for a special occasion.
If you want, you can make the buttercream in advance. Buttercream can be stored for 2 days at room temperature in an airtight container or in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Bring it to room temperature for several hours then re-whip back to a smooth consistency when you’re ready to use it.
How can I make baking easier?
I do believe that having the RIGHT TOOLS in the kitchen makes not only baking but all types of cooking so much easier and straight forward.
I have a Kitchen Aid Stand mixer which is a godsend in baking. Especially if you LOVE to bake regularly, it’s a brilliant investment.
Other useful tools for this recipe include:
- Measuring spoon
- 12-Hole Cupcake Tray
- Fine Sieve
- A variety of bowls
- Blender (if you’re making pumpkin puree from scratch)
- Baking spatula (for scraping down the sides of the mixing bowl)
- Piping bags and nozzles
You can use a hand beater for this recipe but bear in mind that some stages of the recipe will take longer. For example, whipping the aquafaba for the buttercream.
No need to rush.
Cooking and baking can be therapeutic when we immerse ourselves into it. As always, enjoy the process, and let me know how you get on.
If you’ve got a sweet tooth, then you might want to try the following recipes too:
I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments once you’ve tried this recipe. I’m sure you will adore the taste and be delighted by how yummy, and straightforward vegan baking can be.
Much love, G x
For the cupcakes:
- 12 x Kraft Cupcake Cases
- 100g pumpkin puree (see notes)
- 220ml oat milk
- 1.5 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
- 60g softened vegan butter (see notes for recommendations)
- 200g golden caster sugar
- 1 tbsp (30g) silken/soft tofu
- 300g self-raising flour
- 1 tsp bicarbonate soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
- ½ tsp mixed spice
- 1.5 tsp cinnamon
- Pinch of sea salt
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 2 tbsp dairy-free yoghurt
For the vegan swiss meringue chai frosting:
- One piping bag
- 1M Rose Tip piping nozzle
- 160g Aquafaba (the water from 1 can of chickpeas)
- 100g caster sugar
- 100g icing sugar
- ½ tsp cream of tartar
- 150g vegan butter block (see notes from recommendations), room temperature
- 100g shortening TREX, room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon plus extra for dusting
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- One pinch of salt
Step 1: Make The Cupcakes
- Using the whisk attachment, whisk together the oat milk and apple cider vinegar to make vegan buttermilk. Whisk until it becomes frothy (3-5 minutes). That incorporates air. Once whisked, place in a separate bowl.
- Then replace the whisk attachment with the standard flat beater. Then combine the vegan butter and golden caster sugar. Cream together as you would with a traditional cake recipe. Once that’s combined, mix in the 30g silken tofu and pumpkin puree.
- While that’s creaming, you can measure out your dry ingredients: self-raising flour, bicarb powder, baking powder, spices, sea salt. Combine and sift the dry ingredients together into a bowl.
- Then add the dry ingredients to the stand mixer. Combine on a low speed (setting 3) for a few minutes and start to pour in your vegan buttermilk slowly. Once it’s combined well, keep beating it for a further few minutes to incorporate more air.
- Finally, add in the vanilla and dairy-free yoghurt and beat until the cake mixture is of ‘dropping consistency’.
- Pre-heat your oven to 180C and line 12 cupcake cases on a baking tray/cupcake tray. Divide the cake mixture between your cupcake cases, filling about 3/4 of each case.
- Bake in the oven on the middle shelf for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted to the middle comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before topping with the frosting.
Step 2: Make the Swiss Meringue Buttercream (VEGAN)
- Combine the sugar with the chickpea water in a sauce pot and bring to a full boil, whisking it as you go. Boil for 5 minutes or until sugar is dissolved. Then transfer to a bowl to cool completely before continuing. You can do this step in advance.
- With the whip attachment of your stand mixer (a hand beater will work but it will take a very long time) whip the aquafaba on high speed until it is thick and glossy and has firm peaks (approx. 10 mins). If you use a stand mixer, use a medium-high speed setting of 5.
- Combine the cream of tartar with two tablespoons of icing sugar and then add that to the whipped, firm peaked meringue, continue whipping while you add the remaining icing sugar, one heaped tablespoon at a time.
- Add the shortening and softened vegan butter and continue whipping on high speed to a smooth emulsion. Keep the faith. At first, it might look like it’s curdling, but in fact, it’s combining. Give it a good 5 minutes of whipping time, and you’ll notice it becomes smooth and glossy. That’s when you know it’s ready.
- Add the vanilla, spices and salt last.
- Prepare your piping bag and nozzle and fill it with the swiss meringue buttercream. Top each cupcake with a generous whip of icing. You can practise on a bit of baking paper first – that way you can scrape it back in the bag and not waste any.
- Dust with extra cinnamon - VOILA!
Allergens: Gluten, Soy
- Pumpkin puree: You can buy this pre-made, or make it yourself by roasting pumpkin (peeled and diced) and blitzing it into a smooth puree using a blender.
- Vegan butter: When you choose a vegan butter, you want something that tastes, acts and behaves very similarly to dairy butter blocks. I tend to use either the Vegan block by Naturli and recently I have favoured Flora’s Plant Butter block. Both offer fantastic results in cakes and general baking.
- You can use a hand beater for this recipe but bear in mind that some stages of the recipe will take longer. For example, whipping the aquafaba for the buttercream.
- Pre-making the Buttercream: Buttercream can be stored for 2 days at room temperature in an airtight container or in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Bring it to room temperature for several hours then re-whip back to smooth consistency