Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice

written by Nellie Lazar, CRS
Turlock, CA   
Oct 4, 2021


Long before pumpkin spice lattes and pumpkin muffins were a trend, I have loved the seasonal pumpkin foods that my mom used to make. Pumpkin when coupled with cinnamon, brown sugar and other aromatic spices creates a scent and taste that’s emblematic of Fall and childhood, and evokes feelings of comfort, love, warmth, and all other feelings of nurture and nourishment. There are 4 prominent pumpkin recipes that have been essential to my childhood and adult life.  In this post, I’m sharing the recipe for pumpkin beignets. My mom used to make Boliñhos de Abórbora (essentially pumpkins rolls, in Portuguese). I can remember eating these soft, pillowy, and slightly doughy fried confections as far back as 4 or 5 years old. I instinctively knew when it was the time of year when mom would make these and the entire house was filled with the aromatic wonder of warm pumpkin, cinnamon, and sugar. The scent of these delightful pumpkin beignets, which is what they are essentially, would fill my nostrils, and their soft and tender crumb would melt in my mouth. Every autumn I long for them. Since mom was notorious for not writing down recipes and she’s been gone almost 10 years, I’ve had to find a similar replacement. These pumpkin beignets have a texture all their own, and the flavor is totally satisfying and fills the void when the longing for those childhood treats is there.



  • 1/2 tsp. dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 tbsp. ground cinnamon


Mix the powdered sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and set aside.

Sprinkle the yeast over warm water in a small bowl, stirring to dissolve. Let stand for 5 minutes. Combine flour, pumpkin puree, sugar, heavy cream, hot water, egg, shortening, and salt in a large bowl; stir in yeast mixture. Mix dough just until combined and smooth. Let dough rest in bowl, covered with a clean kitchen towel, 30 minutes. Transfer dough to a well-floured surface. Pat to about 1/4-inch thickness and cut into 2-inch squares. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let dough rise in a warm, draft-free area, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Heat three inches of vegetable oil to 350°F in a deep, heavy pot over medium-high heat. Fry beignets until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes, turning as soon as they brown on one side. (Alternatively, you can leave the dough in the bowl and when done rising, lightly scoop out small ball shapes using two spoons and then drop into the oil.) Remove with tongs or a slotted spoon and place on paper towels to drain.

While still warm either roll in the sugar mixture, or place in a paper bag with the sugar and shake to coat.