< Southern Basics

Fall Baking Essentials

Ladies and gentlemen, mark your calendars: it's officially PSS! (Otherwise known as: Pumpkin Spice Season.) And if the rustle of the changing leaves and the cooling autumn breezes have got you craving cozy, warming spices, there's no need to limit yourself to lattes.

Martha White's Pumpkin Spice Muffin Mix is your shortcut to big fall flavor whenever the mood strikes. Mix up a batch as directed and dig right in—or get a little creative. There are dozens of ways [Back-to-School Breakfast Hacks] to put the mix to use beyond basic muffins. Double the recipe, stir in a cupful of chocolate chips and bake in a loaf pan and, voila—you have a chocolate pumpkin spice tea cake! Pipe the batter into a doughnut pan and bake up a batch of cake doughnuts. Dust them with powdered sugar and serve them warm and no one will believe you didn't stop at the doughnut shop. Or spoon the batter onto a sheet pan in small mounds and surprise your crew with pumpkin whoopie pies! Cream cheese frosting is the perfect filling.

Feeling inspired to do some scratch baking? It's also couldn't be simpler to make your own pumpkin spice blend. The basic components are common spices you probably already have in your pantry: cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Sometimes, for a little something different, we also like to add a pinch of cardamom to the mix—it's bright, lively flavor adds just the right spark. But just remember, spices do go lose their potency over time—so if you're have been sitting in the back of your cabinet for more than a year, it might be worth springing for a fresh batch. Or, to get really big, fresh flavors, you could even try grinding your own blend from whole spices.

Of course, it's also apple picking season! Can't make it to an orchard? Martha White's Apple Cider Muffin Mix has got you covered. Whip up a batch of muffins to grab and go before school—or wait until the weekend to try experimenting with a few new twists. Use the batter to make bite-size apple cider cookies drizzled with confectioners' sugar glaze. Or, for the ultimate finale to a fall family dinner, toss sliced apples with vanilla, cinnamon, and a splash maple syrup, spread them into a casserole dish, and top with apple cider muffin mix "drop biscuits." You can call it apple cider cobbler or apple muffin cobbler or whatever you like—but there's no doubt you'll call it delicious!