In the fall, when I was a little girl, I would race home from school every day to see what my mother had baked. I would run up the steps to our front door. I would stand there for a moment to see if I could smell whatever was baking from outside. When my mother baked with fall spices, I could smell them from outside. I would burst in the front door and stand in the entryway with my eyes closed. I would take in the wonderful scent and imagine I was in heaven.
In the fall my mother would start baking with cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. The house would be filled with wonderful smells. My mother loved to surprise my sister and me with fresh-baked treats when we got home from school. Anything with these sweet spices was our favorite.
My favorite fall treat when I was a child, was my mother’s sugar and spice cookies. Now my favorites are fall quick breads. They are not as sweet. Plus, I can spread butter over a warm slice fresh from the oven. The butter melts into the bread and the bread tastes better than any cookie ever could!
Each fall brings back the sweetest memories for me. When I bake with fall spices, I am transported back to my childhood. I remember playing in the leaves. Wondering around the neighborhood playing tag with cold hands and a runny nose. My friends and I would take long walks through the park and afterwards we would head to my house for one of my mother’s fresh baked treats. My friends would tell me how lucky I was to have a mother who baked.
I now realize how lucky I am that my mother my mother baked. Not only did she bake wonderful treats, but she taught me about the power that food has in the form memories. I cherish those memories. I find myself baking often during fall, hoping to give my own children special “food” memories that will last for a very long time. A little taste or smell of heaven is always good for the soul!
Sugar and Spice Pumpkin Bread with Walnuts
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. allspice
3 cups sugar
1 cup oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 (15-16 oz.) can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
½ cup walnuts
1 cup of flour
½ cup brown sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ walnuts, chopped
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, whisk pumpkin and sugar together. Add oil and stir until oil is mixed in. Add eggs and stir. Set aside.
In another bowl; combine flour, salt, soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. Add to the pumpkin mixture. Stir just until flour is incorporated. Do not over mix. Add walnuts and gently them fold into the batter.
In a separate bowl; mix the flour, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. Add the butter, and mix with a hand mixer or a pie cutter until the topping resembles dry sand and no big pieces of butter remain. Add the vanilla and stir until combine. Add walnuts. With your hands squeeze the streusel into clumps.
Pour into 2 greased loaf pans. Top each loaf half of the streusel mix by breaking the clumps into smaller pieces over the top of the batter. Bake on middle oven rack for 50-60 minutes. When loaves are done, the centers will crack or when a toothpick is inserted, it comes out dry. Cool for 20 minutes and serve warm with butter.