The year was 1969, I was 10, and for the life of me I couldn’t figure out why I had such a passion for pouring over food catalogs. The holidays were always a high point for my obsession as we would receive scores of my cherished booklets in the mail…. Hickory Farms, Harry & David and my beloved Swiss Colony. I would sit on the couch for hours and imagine which of the perfectly paired towers I’d purchase for members of my family as gifts. Would it be cheese and smoked sausages for mom and dad, candies and nuts for my siblings or perhaps fruit of the month for me?

Then one night something in the back-page advertisements caught my eye and wouldn’t let up. It was an ad for a mail order Bundt pan. What an incredible invention – a perfectly molded pan that let you turn out expert caliber cakes and confections, with a recipe booklet included! I had to have one. I begged my mom for weeks to write out a check and send away for my prized pan. After what seemed like an eternity, my bundt pan finally arrived in all of its smoky red glory. It took me about a week of careful recipe studying before I chose what my first cake would be… a meatloaf — with peanut butter as one of the ingredients. Huh!? Yeah, my family had the same reaction. But I just had to find out how such an odd combination of ingredients would actually produce a meatloaf.

Well, the meatloaf was pretty much a dried out mass of meat that my family choked down and I was convinced that moving forward, I should use my shiny new bundt pan for cakes. From then on it was my job to whip up coffee cakes for Sunday dessert using another great discovery…the boxed cake mix made especially for Bundt. They were quick and easy and the streusel variety soon became a favorite of my mom’s, but even back then my immature taste buds could sense that boxed wasn’t quite the way to go…there had to be something better in store for my lovely scalloped pan.

I thankfully unlocked the secrets of from-scratch baking in the years that followed and have endlessly experimented with my bundt offerings. To this day, the streusel is my favorite – I guess I’m a lot like my mom that way. Here’s one of my favorites.