Do you know why we perceived October to have a distinct smell? There are three reasons for this phenomenon. According to Pamela Dalton, an olfactory scientist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia. the first reason is that odor molecules move more slowly in colder temperatures. This is why the smell of dumpsters and garbage trucks are more offensive in the summer. The second reason is physiological. Dalton explains that our olfactory receptors “bury” themselves further in our nose when it’s cooler. While the olfactory receptors bury themselves in cold air, the trigeminal nerve is stimulated, says Alan Hirsch, a neurologist and psychiatrist in Chicago. A smell is perceived as more intense when it triggers both these nerves. Further, psychological expectations affect the smells we perceive. As we anticipate the smells of spices, wood burning, and dying leaves, those are the things we experience.
A week ago, we took a family trip to a local nature center. Living in a city, it is nice to have a nature area with trails and wildlife near by. The boys enjoyed running around the trails to explore. Changing autumn leaves made for a lovely scene. We got the chance to have a close encounter with the deer in the park again. This time I was prepared with at least a phone camera. She watched us from a few yards off the pathway.
The autumn has a distinct smell that I had forgotten until we were out on the trails. In the city, leaves are quickly cleaned up and discarded. Out in the woods, they are free to travel through their life cycle. The smell is crisp, rich and earthy. I now appreciate this sensory experience.
Spices are more prevalent in traditional colder weather baking. Today’s recipe combines late season plums with spices, maple and toasted oatmeal crumble topping. This recipe has a clean option as coconut oil can be subbed for the butter and there is no refined sugar or refined flour. The warmth of maple, spices and subtle floral sweetness of plums is a welcome treat on a crisp fall day.
This crisp would be perfect for a quick harvest party dessert or a weeknight treat. I’d love to see your pictures when you make this recipe. Share them on social media with MamaSparrow tagged. Happy baking!
Serves 3/4 cup
Yields 8-10 servings
The warmth of maple, spices and subtle floral sweetness of plums is a welcome treat on a crisp fall day.
10 minPrep Time
35 minCook Time
45 minTotal Time
- 4 ripe, but still crisp medium/large plums (approx. 4 cups)
- 1 1/2 Tb maple syrup
- 1 Tb wheat flour
- 1/8 tsp ginger, ground
- 1/2 cup wheat flour
- 1/2 cup rolled oats, old fashioned
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes (or coconut oil)*
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Peel, core and thinly slice the plums.
- Place the prepared plums in a 2 quart baking dish or 9x9 inch metal pan.
- Add the 1 1/2 Tb of maple syrup and 1 Tb of flour, stir till fruit is evenly coated. Sprinkle the fruit with the ginger.
- In a medium bowl, combine the 1/2 cup flour, rolled oats and salt. Cut the cold butter into the oat mix. Stir in the 1/4 cup maple syrup.
- With hands, crumble the oat mix evenly over the pan of fruit.
- Bake for 35 minutes.
- Let cool for 5 minutes. May serve warm or cold.
- If your crisp survives past dessert, it makes a great breakfast the next day.
*Clean or Vegan option: substitute coconut oil for the butter.