Part 5: Pumpkin-Flavored Doughnuts
Zombie thumb is not entirely thrilled about the prospect of seeing this project through before Halloween, but it can’t be helped. 頑張れ、ゾンビの親指。。。
As I noted in Part 1, Japan likes its kabocha but isn’t really big on the pumpkin and spice flavor. Kabocha, like most orange squash, pairs well with miso, soy sauce, mitsuba, and other savory Japanese flavors, but it’s also quite good with sugar and spice. Kabocha in desserts like manjû and tarts are popular in Japan, too, but I’ve heard it just doesn’t work well as a pumpkin substitute in pumpkin pie–something about the texture is off.
The history of pumpkins in the North America is fascinating, and I highly recommend Mary Miley Theobald’s “Some Pumpkins!: Halloween and Pumpkins in Colonial America” from the Autumn 2009 Colonial Williamsburg Journal if you want to learn about the use of pumpkins in cuisine and in development of Halloween during the colonial period. Pumpkins were cultivated by the indigenous peoples of North and South America, who used them extensively in cooking. The American colonists also came to eat them in everything, and Theobald cites the following sardonic poem about the amount of pumpkins consumed in the colonies:
Stead of pottage and puddings and custards and pies
Our pumpkins and parsnips are common supplies,
We have pumpkins at morning and pumpkins at noon,
If it were not for pumpkins we should be undoon.
Sadly, the orange pumpkin we associate with Halloween is mainly what remains of varieties of pumpkins in the US.* Similarly, pumpkin cuisine seems to be largely limited to dessert–cookies, cakes, pies, breads– though I’ve seen somewhat of a resurgence in savory pumpkin dishes — soups, pasta, pizza– since getting more involved in the online food blog community. Still, you say pumpkin, I still think dessert, preferably with cinnamon and cloves.
That’s what is so amazing about today’s Halloween find: Doughnut Plant’s Sweet Pumpkin (スゥイート・パンプキン) doughnut.* This seasonal doughnut (10.11-31) is the perfect blend of pumpkin and spices. It’s a white cake doughtnut glazed with pumpkin-spice glaze and has a cute little pumpkin made of kabocha paste in the doughnut hole. It even has a seed “stem”! At 360 yen, it’s not cheap, but these are designer doughnuts, and it’s not like Mister Donut is doing a kabocha or pumpkin flavor this fall. (Ahem. Hint hint.) With the attention to detail and the domestic ingredients, the doughnut is one of the best of Japan’s Halloween sweets–and it tastes like home.
*I’m sure there some some heirloom types, and other squashes have more variety, to be sure.
**Doughnut Plant’s Kanazawa location is on the second floor of Kanazawa Station. The shop also has panini (with vegetarian options), local ice cream, natural curry, and Izze. It’s one of my favorite places to grab a sandwich for the train. The company is based in New York City but clearly has developed the Kanazawa branch to suit Japanese tastes and use local ingredients.
More “Documenting Halloween in Japan”