Pumpkin Cornbread Donuts (for dunkin' and snackin')

Last weekend was Lana's first birthday party.  A year ago, I had made these muffins for her. Things have changed between my sister and me - I go to her more. I call her. I don't hang up quickly or make excuses. I stay over for the whole night. I don't leave by nine, saying I like to sleep in my own bed. 

We didn't grow up with family, really. We lived too far away and there were bridges burned before I was even born. It made for disappointing Christmases and silent phonecalls that never came for birthdays. So it's a learning experience for us. We're learning from mistakes we couldn't always understand before. We hug now. Kiss goodbye. I tell her I love her. It's all for Lana. We patched a lot up quickly for her.

Lana and Me

Lana, beautiful and curious and temper-prone, fills the room with a lightness that I've only experienced as the awkward voyeur of other people's families. We crouch and coo with her. We play a game of trial-and-error, trying to figure out what makes her happy and what makes her sad. We kiss her more than she likes. We feed her small cereals and watch her smile with her four teeth.

And I was more than happy to make something when my sister asked if I could. We had a small party at a church hall where her baby shower was held. My sister made three soups and my mother made the cake.  We helped decorate and I made a Midwest staple - cornbread for the chili. And it just made sense to make them in a donut pan, for small hands and streamlined dunking.

And on the floor of the church hall, I sat with Lana and told her she was special. Because she is, with her big eyes and long hair. Because she is, because it only took 9 months to fix 25 years of silence.

Pumpkin Cornbread Donuts

Pumpkin Cornbread Donuts

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk (or whole milk with a 1/2 TB white vinegar)
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 3 TB butter, softened
  • 2 TB honey

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425*F and grease a standard donut pan
  2. Sift together all dry ingredients
  3. Whisk together all wet ingredients
  4. Create a well in the center of your dry ingredients and fold in wet
  5. Beat vigorously until batter is smoooth
  6. Transfer to a piping bag and cut the tip off
  7. Fill the donut indents about 3/4 of the way full
  8. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown
  9. Repeat if you have a 6-donut pan and remember to re-grease your pan!
  10. Enjoy dunked into some hearty chili on a cold day!
Pumpkin Cornbread Donuts
Pumpkin Cornbread Donuts
Pumpkin Cornbread Donuts

Pumpkin Madeleines with Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt

Pumpkin Madeleines with Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt

Still hot. Still dry. Still a confusing pattern of crisp morning and blazing afternoons. We're adapting to this weather. It's hard to adapt when it's so unpredictable. A swaying and perching of temperature highs and lows that vary by twenty degrees within just a few hours.

I'm bitter. I'm antsy. I want it to be cold so I can savor the mornings a bit more than I do right now. The artificial chill of the air conditioner can only give us so much comfort. I want both warm coffee and the shivering hand that holds it. Give me this. Give me turtlenecks and rain boots. I will take it all right about now.

Is there a word for weather that has overextended its welcome? It's not an anachronism, but it feels kind of the same. It's jolting to be looking at Christmas trees made out of wood at a local craft fair when there are rivulets of sweat trickling down my side.

Our yard, our house, our land - they do not like the extended heat. The grass is dead in the patch we reserved for the dogs to play, and shaggy in the field. Overrun, the way I like it. A tamed kind of chaos, the way I like it. It's nearly completely razed in the chicken run, but they don't mind. They'll get to laying soon, I hope. 

But I'm optimistic. I want it to be winter, if we are forced to bypass Fall. But in the meantime, I'll bake up something beautiful. In the meantime, I'll kill off the chocolate that's been in the cabinet for a while. I'll use the last can of pumpkin I had sitting around. I'll keep busy, waiting for the daylight to get shorter and shorter and shorter.

Pumpkin Madeleines, with Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt

Pumpkin Madeleines with Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt

Recipe notes: This madeleine recipe is taken from my adaptation of Ruby Tandoh's Crumb.  These were the following changes I made: I used 6 TB butter instead of 1/2 cup (I did not brown, just melted), 3 TB pumpkin puree, and 1/2 TB orange zest, 1 TB molasses. They bake a little longer at 12-15 minutes. Dipped in 12 oz of melted dark chocolate and a sprinkle of sea salt.

Pumpkin Madeleines with Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt
Pumpkin Madeleines with Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt
Pumpkin Madeleines with Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt
Pumpkin Madeleines with Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt
Pumpkin Madeleines with Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt
Pumpkin Madeleines with Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt