Rustic Mini Pumpkin Cakes

I can think of no other holiday with as much whimsy as Halloween.  Being the lead off to the long holiday season I find Halloween is embraced with all the orange and black people can muster.  After all who does not enjoy the idea of assuming a new personae for a day?  I myself dress up annually and my costumes have ranged far and wide.

One year I was ‘A Vision of Lovliness’ despite being taunted about being Ginger from Gilligan’s Island.
I was the Queen of Hearts, despartely trying to look evil and avoid the photographic effect of a double chin when allowing a 4 year old to take my photos. It was all about the shoes this year….

I had made this costume and a matching one for my daughter when she was three, when she requested our family to all be pumpkins. I was pregnant at the time, thrilling several tiny Trick-or-Treaters sure I WAS the Great Pumpkin. I reprised the costume at the last minute when volunteering for an elementary school Halloween party and was traumatized when a parent I did not know thrust her hand inside my costume curious what it was stuffed with. Though it was not a ‘what Scotsmen wear under their kilts’ situation, I felt sure we did not know each other nearly well enough to reinact how one never wants a first date to go!
This little diddy was swooped up on a snowy day when needing to work at a school Halloween Party. It was freezing outside, and this full body ‘romper’ of Po from the Teletubbies fit the bill. It was ‘unexpected’ to say the least. Not my prettiest of costume moments but I loved the child photog ‘glamour shot’ on the right. Just in case you wondered if I wear contact lenses; it’s now caught on film. Gives ‘close up’ and entirely new meaning.

When my family first became gluten free, I felt I’d be baking a lot from scratch.  No more ordering birthday cakes from a local bakery.  And with that I wanted to make sure the occasions were as festive as when we did eat gluten.  Decorative cake pans did a lot of that for me until I discovered so many gluten free options in recipes and mixes (though I still love the novelty of the unique baking pans!).  I frankly had no idea there were so many selections available from either Nordicware or Wilton (the latter perfect especially for younger children’s birthday parties).

The first holiday that befell us after my children and I became gluten free was Halloween.  I did not bake Halloween cakes when we did eat gluten but the variety of pumpkin pans were irresistible to me.  This Pumpkin Patch Pan has been in high rotation over the years, turning out a variety of cakes with this recipe being a favorite and one synonymous with the Halloween season (though it’s great for Thanksgiving too).  It’s a simple, moist pumpkin spice cake; light and singing the flavors of the season!

Should you not want to invest in the specialty pan, these can certainly be made as regular cupcakes, perhaps frosted with your favorite frosting (or this Orange Cream Cheese Frosting) and a little candy pumpkin; or simply glazing as I have here with seasonal decorating sugars.  They make an unusual treat, and one enjoyed by children and adults alike.

Rustic Mini Pumpkin Cakes

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 12 half pumpkins or cupcakes, 6 full mini pumpkin cakes

These irresistable mini pumpkin cakes are a delight for children and adults alike! The pumpkin, spice cake is light, moist and tastes like fall.


  • 1 ½ cups plus 2 tablespoons flour (gluten free or with gluten)
  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg, preferably freshly ground
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 7 tablespoons butter, softened/room temperature
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • ½ cup milk
  • ¾ cup pumpkin puree


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. If using Pumpkin Patch pan, prepare the cake wells with cooking spray or by greasing and flouring them. If making cupcakes, prepare the wells with cupcake papers.
  2. Sift together the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and the five spices. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a standing mixer (or in a large bowl using a hand mixer) beat butter until smooth. Add the brown sugar and granulated sugar; beat until fluffy, scraping sides of mixing bowl if necessary.
  4. Add eggs to butter-sugar mixture, allowing each egg to be fully combined before adding the second egg.
  5. On low speed, add the flour mixture and milk; starting and ending with flour. Beat until fully combines. Scrape bowl if necessary.
  6. Add the pumpkin puree and beat until fully combined.
  7. Fill cake wells 2/3 full and bake for approximately 20 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow cake pan to cool on cooling rack for 15 minutes. If using the Pumpkin Patch pan (not making regular cupcakes), use a serrated/bread knife to cut off any cake that has rise above the top of the pan before removing them from the pan. Place the knife on its side flat on the top of the cake pan, gently slice back and forth, keeping the knife flush with the pan to create a flat bottom for the pumpkins. Turn cakes out of pan and allow them to cool to room temperature before decorating.
  8. To Make Mini Pumpkins: If using the Pumpkin Patch you will note there is a leaf design on the top of half of the cake wells. To make a full mini pumpkin, find the corresponding size top and bottom and place them together in the correct orientation. After glazing, frosting or simply sifting with powdered sugar, insert part of a cinnamon stick as a stem making sure it’s removed before eating! Half pumpkins are cute too; just use one of the cakes and decorate as you choose.


Recipe adapted from Williams-Sonoma




    • pattypan says

      Hi Toni

      Wow – you should not have posted that link and I so love that pan. This is going to be expensive. I am a great fan of Wilton and Nordic ware in any event and have quite a stash, but not the pumpkin ones and I have also spotted an acorn one as well. And the recipe is one that is going in my recipe stash, that is if you don’t mind. I also love the fancy dress costumes they are fab.

      Thank you for a great post again as usual.

      Take care



      • Toni | Boulder Locavore says

        Patty Pan! So glad to see you here (and I still owe you an email ; ‘note to self’). I love these pans and see you do too. When I was looking for a link for the pan I saw the petite acorn pan! Beyond charming. I’m going back for more I’m afraid. I also have a large pumpkin mold that makes one huge pumpkin. I may have to do something with that before the fall is over….

    • Toni | Boulder Locavore says

      Thank you Angie! You are more than generous with your comment on my lovely Halloween costumes! A friend emailed today asking if it was my real hair in the first photo. ‘No’, is the answer; what fun would that be? I wear my real hair every other day of the year! Glad you liked the little pumpkins too! They make this time of year fun.

  1. says

    I love, love, love the pregnancy pumpkin costume! It’d fit me perfectly at the shape I’m in right now … pear … or more correctly, pumpkin 🙂
    What gorgeous outfits! I’ve missed all the halloween excitement (like I mentioned before, it isn’t that big a deal here, and I so love halloween!).
    Looking at your halloween posts brings back all that excitement and now I’m almost convinced to make those beautiful pumpkin cakes even tho I don’t have a pumpkin patch pan.

    • Toni | Boulder Locavore says

      Your comment about the ‘forgiving’ pumpkin costume reminds me of my wedding dress. I eloped to Fiji and had a native ceremony in a native ‘gown’. It was three pieces all of hand-made, indigineously painted paper essentially. It’s elaborately wrapped and tied; definitely not designed to show off petite features. Regardless of my size I can ALWAYS get into my wedding dress!

      I do love the whimsy of this time of year. It’s really a festive relief to the grind of the school year for a project managine parent having to run her household on military time to ensure everything gets done!

    • Toni | Boulder Locavore says

      Are you questioning to yourself ‘she never puts photos of herself on her blog but she’d show THESE?!’ Threw a bit of caution to the wind today!

    • Toni | Boulder Locavore says

      Thank you Cindy! One has to develop some coping skills when photos are taken almost looking up one’s nose or when recalling being groped by a random same-sex parent unexpectedly. Humor is my self-medication of choice.

    • Toni | Boulder Locavore says

      Thank you Ginny! No worries about the name misspelling. After seeing some of those Halloween costumes spelling my name with a ‘y’ is a minor infraction compared to some of the names I might be called!

  2. says

    OMG!!!! thank you, thank you so much!!! I absolutely love the images of you and the pumpkin outfit rocks!!!!

    now those little cakes look amazing, but I did have to pin a few of the pics of you in costumes for posterity!

    • Toni | Boulder Locavore says

      Now, now; let’s play nice with our friends! I’m not spilling yet but I’m sure my costume for this year will bring back memories for you. Your over zealous use of exclamation marks scares me a bit. If I see these pics somewhere suspect, I’m coming to find you.

    • Toni | Boulder Locavore says

      Thank you Jill! That was the product of a Martha-esque vision. I bought a doll house on eBay years ago, painted it black and turned it into a fun haunted house decoration for Halloween. Made the perfect backdrop of a spooky pumpkin patch of little cakes!

  3. says

    Im going through my reader and am amazed at all your Halloween themed posts (and now I feel like a slacker). I love your martinis – pop rocks are awesome. Those napkins are adorable. And I am really jealous of your mad costume making skills. Not to mention these little cakes sound delish.
    We never do anything and are trying to organize a Halloween shindig but finding it difficult. I need friends like you around me!

  4. says

    This year my son is going as a werewolf and my daughter has decided to be a bumble bee. She wants me to be the King Bee. I don’t have to tell her that there is no King Bee do I? Thanks for the fantastic recipe, we’ll give it a try later this month!


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