Title: “Pumpkin Ginger Bread: A Tale of Heartbreak”
Setting: Our favorite Dough-Eyed correspondent has taken a few days to explore the wonder of our nation’s capital, Washington, D.C. After some expert advice, she has made a potentially life-changing discovery: a breakfast food creation of superhuman proportions, a hybrid so simple yet so ingenious that it could only be the work of a mad-but-brilliant baker. The item: the donut muffin, pioneered at the bakery Baked and Wired.
Scene 1: A cozy bakery on a lovely autumn Thursday in Georgetown, Washington, D.C. Close up on a row of plump, generously frosted cupcakes; thick fudgy bars of all shapes and sizes; and an orderly line-up of jars of biscotti.
Server: Hi! How can I help you?
DEG: Hello! I am so happy to be here! I would like one of your delightful donut muffins, which I have been fantasizing about for hours and which has the potential to shake the very foundations of my existence.
Server: I’m sorry, but we don’t have donut muffins on Thursdays.
DEG is stricken, unable to speak.
Server: I’m sorry! But we will have them tomorrow. And they will be pumpkin donut muffins!
DEG: [Struggling to form words] I… will… be… back.
Server: Great! Just make sure to come early. They sell out fast.
DEG staggers out of the bakery. End scene.
Scene 2: The following day, 8:30 AM. DEG is staring at the ceiling in her Airbnb bedroom, waiting for her apartment host to finish using the bathroom. At 9:15, the woman leaves the bathroom and soon exits the apartment. DEG rushes through her morning routine, leaves the apartment at around 9:45, and begins walking to Baked and Wired, arriving just before 10:15.
DEG: Hello! I am back! Please, may I have one of your donut muffins? I’ve waited so long and come so far.
Server: I’m sorry, but we’re all sold out.
DEG: What?!? How can that be? It’s not even 10:15!
Server: We sold out at around 9:30. They were pumpkin donut muffins today…
DEG: This is too much to bear. How could this happen? Why is life so cruel? What is the purpose of all this injustice?
DEG slowly walks away from the flummoxed server and into the adjacent coffee bar. There, she does her best to approximate the pumpkin-donut-muffin-that-will-never-be by buying a slice of pumpkin ginger bread topped with ginger frosting. The bread is richly spiced and studded with plenty of nubs of candied ginger, the crumb is dense and heady with the scent of pumpkin. The generously applied frosting is on the sweet side and a shade decadent for breakfast, but she recognizes that this is an aspirational loaf, something that other dry, timid cakes, cupcakes, and quick breads can look to as a role model. (She is too distraught to note the price, but figures later that the massive slice is no more than $3.50.)
She eats slowly, with a fork, alternating bites with sips of the housemade “chaider”, another ingenious blend, in this case, chai spice and apple cider. The bread is good, really excellent, but she is still eating to fill the donut muffin-shaped hole in her heart. As she consumes the last piece, she wonders, will she ever get a chance to meet this elusive donut muffin? Only time will tell.