Pumpkin Spice…your donuts?
BY TOM YATES
Corn mazes. Fodder shocks. Pumpkin patches.
Yep, it’s coming on autumn. The vibrancy of summer has slowly slipped into the calming pace of fall. Crisp cool breezes dance through the trees, gently releasing their worn leaves to scatter over long shadows on the tired grass. Like summer, autumn will be very different in our new normal. Still, we’ll navigate the changes as we cling to familiarity.
While gushingly ripe summer tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans, and fresh corn might be fading away, we have a new season to celebrate. We’ll cling to pumpkins, winter squash, potatoes, and hardy greens to get us through our autumnal new normal.
And, through it all, there will always be pumpkin spice. And donuts.
As much as the pumpkin spice forces tried to rush us into fall before we were ready, it is finally pumpkin spice’s time.
So, go ahead, put it in anything and everything. Make pies, muffins, pancakes, coffees, and scented whipped creams. Or simply dab it behind your ears. It’s pumpkin spice season. And, now, we’re ready.
Maple Glazed Pumpkin Donuts With Candied Bacon.
Lord knows. I have and will fry anything. If it’ll fit in a fryer, I’ll fry it. Like most folks, I’m a fool for fried donuts dripping with glaze. That said, I went down the baked donut route with these pumpkin-y donuts because they’re consistent and easier to work with.
Time to make the donuts.
Glaze. I combined 1 1/3 cups powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 2 tablespoons milk, and 1 teaspoon Oberholtzer sorghum before whisking the glaze until it was just thick and thin enough to drape the donuts.
Bacon. After completely coating and covering 6 slices thick cut bacon with light brown sugar, I placed them directly onto a foil lined sheet pan (no wire rack) and slid them into a preheated 350 degree oven. As they started to caramelize and crisp, I turned the bacon and swept it through the sweet sticky bacon fat, returned it to oven, repeated the flip/swipe until the bacon candied in its own fat, and removed it to a wire rack to cool.
Dough. So, fresh or canned pumpkin? Although completely interchangeable, I get a kick out of roasting fresh pumpkins. More savory than sweet, fresh pumpkin seems to have a cleaner flavor. And, why not? It’s pumpkin season. After halving and seeding 2 Madison County fresh sugar pumpkins, I roasted them in a 350 degree oven until they collapsed ( about 45 minutes), let them cool to the touch, scraped the warm flesh into a blender, and pureed the pumpkin until smooth.
After scooping 2 cups pumpkin puree into a large mixing bowl, I added 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1/3 cup vegetable oil, 4 tablespoons melted butter and 3 large organic eggs. Using an old school hand held mixer, I blended the wet mixture until well combined and silky smooth.
I sifted 2 cups Weisenberger Mill all purpose flour, 2 teaspoons pumpkin spice (ground cloves, ground cinnamon, ground allspice, ground ginger, ground nutmeg), 2 teaspoons baking powder, and 1 teaspoon salt into a smaller mixing bowl. After a quick whisk to combine, I added the spiced flour to the pumpkin puree, and gently folded the two together until well incorporated (without overworking the batter).
To make life easier, I spooned the donut dough into a pastry bag and piped it into two oil-sprayed silicone donut molds, cleaned the edges, placed the molds onto a sheet pan, and slid them into a preheated 350 degree oven for 15 minutes. When cooked though (clean toothpick test), I pulled the donuts from the oven and let them rest for five minutes for turning them out onto two wire racks to cool.
When almost completely cooled, I dipped the donuts into the maple glaze and let the excess swirl back into the bowl before finishing with shards of candied bacon.
Suspended under the slightly hardened glaze, the baked donuts were soft, tender, and as light as air. While the warming pumpkin spice punched through the rich caramel-like maple glaze, the candied bacon added salty sweet crunch.
Donuts in the pumpkin patch? Get your spice on.
This article also appears on page 18 of the October 2020 print edition of Ace Weekly.
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