Canned pumpkin puree allows you to use less fat in this recipe, yielding moist, tender little cakes that are better for you.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour 18 standard muffin cups. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, allspice, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. In a medium bowl, beat granulated sugar and butter with a wooden spoon until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Whisk in pumpkin puree until smooth, then whisk in molasses, eggs, and buttermilk. Add to flour mixture in 3 additions, stirring well to combine.
Divide batter among muffin cups. Bake until puffed and set, 35 minutes, rotating pans halfway through. Let cool completely in pans on wire racks.
Whisk together confectioners' sugar and 2 tablespoons water. Spoon over muffins and let glaze set, about 15 minutes, before serving.
These cakes were baked in cannele molds, available at baking stores. They're just as sweet made in muffin pans. You can also use a 5-by-9-inch loaf pan; bake 70 minutes. Refrigerate cakes in an airtight container, up to 1 week.