On Writing, Friendship, And The Perfect Pumpkin Doughnut

We probably could have used some doughnuts. #RoughNight

“The urge to write has to be stronger and more compelling than the belief that no one wants to hear your stories.”

I woke up this morning after a wretched night of sleep with this thought fully formed in my head. It was such a revelation to me, so astonishing in its truth, simplicity, and application to my current stage of life that I felt compelled to write it down and share it, thus proving the message itself.

Developing recipes, learning everything as I go (including some very basic cooking skills), finding new culinary projects: that has never been hard.

The hard part, as with everything I have written about life and grief and death and yoga and parenting, is the overwhelming doubt that anyone gives a rat’s ass about what I have to say.

I will pause here to assure my three loyal readers that I am not looking for encouragement or a pat on the back. 

The point is that the act of creation – of food, of words, of art – has to be so terrifyingly urgent as to make incomprehensibly unimportant the doubt of reaching an audience who cares. 

Creation doesn’t care about click-throughs, page views, and bounce rate.

(that has the rhythm of a poem to me)

What cares about those things is doubt, fear, and the thought that someone has done it first, better, and simply MORE than I have now or will ever be able to.

Creation doesn’t care because succeeding at the perfect pastry creme (ongoing) or developing a perfect gluten-free pasta (starting this week) is its own reward.

I continue to struggle daily with the feeling that my writing is not good enough and doesn’t matter, and I continue to try and do it anyway. I am learning, and this is always good.

And frustrating and infuriating and slow. 

But still.

Creation is its own reward. That, and a spicy pumpkin doughnut. Made especially for my oldest friend in the world, Kerry.

Yes, I know. Two doughnut recipes in a week. 

But Saturday we went thrift store shopping, and after tasting my apple cider doughnut, Kerry requested a pumpkin doughnut. Today is National Pumpkin Pie Day, a made-up holiday if there ever was one, but certainly better than celebrating the impending doom of 1.5 million indigenous people on this day in 1492 (or thereabouts). Other sources say it’s National Pumpkin Day or National Pumpkin Cheesecake Day, so split the difference and make these.

Kerry has been with me for my most joyful and tragic moments. Also some of my most drunken and ridiculous, which were sometimes connected to the most joyful moments. From in-school suspension together in middle school for a “food fight” consisting of throwing one piece of corn to midnight rides to being one of the first to arrive when my husband died in 2013 and the only friend to drop everything at the death of my father, Kerry has been in it with me from nearly as long as I can remember, not only listening to my stories but also creating a few right along with me. 

Seems like a doughnut is a small thing to ask for, yes?

This doughnut is for Kerry, the person who, no matter how ridiculous they are, not only always wants to hear all my stories but also wants All. The. Details.

Share this with a friend who is like this, then tell me all about them in the comments below.

Spicy Pumpkin Doughnuts


2 eggs
1 stick butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp. vinegar 

1/2 cup pumpkin puree (NOT pie filling)
3 tsp. vanilla extract (you could also do a maple extract here)
1 3/4 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour blend
1/4 cup oat flour OR almond meal
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum (optional if your blend already has it. I use it anyway) 
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 T ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt 

1 tsp ginger 
1/2 tsp. ground clove 
1/2 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cloves

1 stick melted butter
1/2 cup sugar 
1 T cinnamon 1/2 tsp each ground ginger, clove, nutmeg, and allspice


Preheat oven to 400 and grease two doughnut pans (either full size or mini).

Before you begin, combine the milk and the vinegar to make a buttermilk, of sorts. I chose this method over purchasing buttermilk because most people don’t have buttermilk handy. If you do, feel free to substitute 1/2 cup of buttermilk. If not, add the vinegar to the milk and let sit for 10 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine the following dry ingredients: flours, baking soda and powder, salt, and spices.

In a medium bowl or stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add eggs and beat, then add vanilla, milk mixture, and pumpkin puree. Beat until combined, then add the flour and continuing mixing until it is smooth (just a minute or two).

If you have a pastry bag, use that to pipe the batter into the waiting doughnut tins. If not, scoop the batter into a Ziploc baggie, snip off a corner, and use that to pipe the batter into the tins. Fill about halfway up.

Bake for eight to ten minutes. Doughnuts are ready when they spring back from a light touch.

Turn out onto a wire rack. As soon as they are just cool enough to handle, dip each doughnut into melted butter and then roll in spicy sugar mixture. 

These may keep, but I have no experience with them lasting past noon on the day they are made, so let me know if they do.

Recipe notes:

  • Doughnuts are just as delicious without the sugar topping, and you can also just use it for the top if you want to keep sugar in check.
  • Initially I planned on frosting these with a cream cheese frosting instead of the sugar did not. That’s the next iteration.

3 thoughts on “On Writing, Friendship, And The Perfect Pumpkin Doughnut

  1. I may or may not have tossed one of these doughnuts into a bowl of butter pecan ice cream.

    Okay, I did, and it was delicious!!

    Creating for oneself first is paramount and vital but so hard to keep in mind for me with other things pulling at me (like making a living and raising a kid!!). Still, it's like breath for me; I don't feel quite as alive when I am not creating.

    Thanks for stopping by!

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