The fortunate thing about not being at work over the holidays is that I don't have to (unsuccessfully) restrain myself from eating from the endless baskets of candy, the trays of baked goods, and the gift boxes filled with chocolate covered things, cheese, and the single pear (which I have never quite understood).
I believe there is a parable that goes something along the lines of: A wise person who avoids sugar over the holidays should limit herself from baking those sweets at home. I probably made that up but this seemingly wise person still loves a good excuse to bake.
And what better excuse than my father's birthday. This year I decided to bake a pumpkin cake which I made last year for Thanksgiving. It is not only delicious it is also extremely easy to make...and I truly mean that: it takes about ten minutes to put together and you can do it all without a mixer. I decorated the cake with a meringue frosting and toasted it with my kitchen torch. While I love any excuse to use that tool, you can also toast the meringue under the broiler.
The recipe can be found here: Pumpkin Layer Cake