I could have caused a car accident last week.
I saw leaves changing colors on the trees and got so excited I slammed my foot down on the brakes.
Mercifully, the only other travelers on the road at that moment were a pair of squirrels, so no harm was done. At that moment I realized that what I needed more than anything else in the universe was to bake. Immediately. After burning rubber to get home, I peeled in the front door, tossed purse and coat aside and nearly hyperventilated gathering baking implements and ingredients. We're talking about serious compulsion here. When the air turns crisp (which it had) and the leaves are touched with Crayola colors (which they were), baking is simply not optional.
No one in this household seems to mind too much when Mama is on a baking bender. Children with expectant faces sneak — alone — into the kitchen to say things like, "Mom. Would it be helpful to you if I licked that icing off the side of the bowl?" If I know what's good for me my answer to that is a resounding yes. You haven't known ill-tempered children until you've known ones whose hopes for illicit frosting booty has been thwarted.
Adults magically appear to offer help at the very instant you remove the mixer's beater to take it to the sink, then leave the room with batter in beards and on the fronts of shirts.
Dogs pant at the ready in the corner hoping against all hope that you'll drop a spoon or a bowl or a cookie.
Baking, flannel shirts and frosting thieves. This is the stuff of fall traditions.
Since it is now nearly officially fall, it is time to dust off some of our shelved-for-the-summer classics and give them some timely attention. New-fashioned gingerbread gets a sweet little boost with the addition of honey and is made over into adorable one-bite miniature size. Pumpkin cake gets transformed into succulent pumpkin cupcakes. Both get a punchy boost from the presence of freshly grated ginger root.
And both little cakes can be served plain or with the same topping; a silky, snow-white Classic Cream Cheese Frosting. This sweet, creamy frosting is like a little black dress for cakes. But it's not just a tasty cover-all. It freezes like a dream. You can frost the tiny Honey Gingerbread Bites and freeze them, uncovered, on a cookie sheet before transferring to a freezer bag. You can pop one of the little frozen beauties straight into your mouth — no thawing required. Midnight snacks will never be the same again.