I don’t know about you, but when I need either a) a break from writing or b) some writing inspiration, I find myself in the kitchen baking or cooking — usually baking. I’m working on a culinary mystery series and my protagonist cooks and runs a food-based business, so this helps me get into her head a little bit more.
Retreating to the kitchen when stuck on writing serves another equally wonderful purpose. When you bake, you get an immediate result that you can see and enjoy. With writing, it might take a little longer to see that result — sometimes a lot longer than you expect. So bring on the baking. You can be creative and get immediate gratification — is it any wonder that so many writers are also into making (and eating) great food?
Since many of us have probably stocked up on canned pumpkin in anticipation of Thanksgiving, here’s one of my favorite seasonal recipes: streusel-topped pumpkin bread. This is a good old-fashioned baked treat that will fill your house with the autumnal scents of pumpkin, brown sugar, cinnamon and pumpkin-pie spice. Hungry yet? The recipe you see pictured is for a bake sale at school–I’m slicing it up into individual slices and asking top dollar! (Hey, it is a fundraiser.) If you make it, you’ll know why I am upping the sale price. It’s crazy good and so versatile–it works for breakfast, brunch, snacks, with a cup of tea in the afternoon, you name it!
I customized this recipe from a similar one I found in the Gourmet Magazine cookbook. This is a delicious, butter and brown sugar streusel topping that is also nut-free. So if you need that for someone in your life (as I do), here you go.
Pumpkin Spice Bread with Streusel Topping
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
5 tablespoons dark brown or light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, slightly softened
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 15 oz can of solid pack pumpkin
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2-1/4 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
Make the topping first:
Blend together flour, sugar, butter and cinnamon in a small bowl with your fingertips until the mixture looks like coarse meal.
For the bread:
Place rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Spray Pam with flour on two 9 x 5 inch loaf pans.
Sift together flour, salt, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, whisk pumpkin, sugar, eggs and oil. Add flour mixture to large bowl and stir gently until well combined.
Divide batter between loaf pans. Sprinkle half of topping over each. Bake until a wooden skewer inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean 50-60 minutes.
Cool loaves in pan on wire rack for 45 minutes, then turn out of pan and let cool completely on rack, about one hour.
Wrap well in plastic wrap and foil to keep refrigerated for about a week. Can also be frozen up to one month.