"Where classic Southern baking, history, and how-to, come together in taste and style."
Born in Georgia and raised in North Carolina, I inherited the baking bug like so many of us; through childhood memories and standing by my mother's side as she prepared our family meal. I began this blog as a way of sharing my love of Southern baking and its treasured heritage.
Thanksgiving is fast upon us, and this year celebrations will certainly be different from those of years past. Maybe you have decided to splurge just a bit this year with a bottle of wine. Well, if there is any leftover, White Wine Cake is devine and will be the perfect finish to a holiday meal.
When it comes to wine, I have never caught on. The taste just never appealed to me. Perhaps this is a good thing, as the sulfites in wine aggravate my asthma. However, I have found that wine can still be enjoyed among those of us who, due to health reasons, or simply because they do not care for wine, can still enjoy many dishes in which wine is used.
This dessert for Wine Cake is one I could never tire of. And since the sulfites and alcohol are cooked out at high temperatures, this cake is suitable for everyone, whether they like wine or not.
Don’t worry if you don’t know much about wine. Any bottle of white wine found in your local market will work well, so you need not spend a fortune. Just make sure you don’t drink too much wine and not leave enough for this cake. You need just enough to mix in the cake and for the sweet glaze poured over the top once the cake is out of the oven. And I promise, no ill effects from indulging too much of this cake!
White Wine Cake
1 (3 oz.) package of vanilla instant pudding mix 1/2 cup white wine
1 box of yellow cake mix 1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup water
1 stick of butter (8 Tbsp.)
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup white wine
Spray a 10 inch tube pan with oil or grease with shortening and flour well.
Scatter pecans on bottom of pan.
Combine pudding mix, cake mix, eggs, oil, water, and wine.
Pour batter over pecans.
Bake at 350* for 45 minutes. Use toothpick or cake tester to check for doneness.
Make the glaze by combining butter, sugar, and water.
Boil for 3 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in white wine. Stir well.
Use toothpick or cake tester to poke holes in top of warm cake.
Pour half the glaze over cake. Cool.
Turn cake out and poke other side with holes and pour remaining glaze over cake. Do this slowly allowing the cake to absorb the liquid.
This cake can be served with ice cream or whipped cream. But it is so yummy you will find it doesn’t need anything extra. Just enjoy.
Something about this time of year makes a person hungry for home and hearth. I think of pies baking in an oven and watching the juices of fruits of the season bubbling and bursting through the sides and tops of the crusts. Apples always come to mind, but I seem to always have some leftover. This year, after baking the usual apple pie recipes, I longed for something different to use up the scant few apples I had left from my last apple baking ventures.
It was in my attempts to find an old recipe I loved that had nothing to do with apples, I found a recipe I had overlooked, and one that suited my needs to use up the leftover apples still occupying space on my countertop. It’s funny how we always find what we are not looking for and end up with just what we need. This recipe for Apple Dapple Cake in the Christ Church Frederica Cookbook, is perfect for apple lovers and cool autumn days.
Christ Church Frederica is located in St. Simons Island, Georgia. It is a beautiful Episcopalian church sheltered by old spanish moss and oaks dating back centuries. The church was built in 1820 and after being destroyed during the Civil War, was rebuilt in memoriam to Ellen, the first wife of the Reverand Anson Green Phelps Dodge, Jr. I highly reccommend visiting the church if you ever are in the vicinity. And don’t forget to purchase their cookbook. It is filled with outstanding recipes from the congregation. I know you will savor every bite of delicious Apple Dapple Cake.
God bless this glorious time of year, when summer slips away and bright colors of autumn paint the world with vibrant hues of life gathering for the long winter ahead.
I love this time of year, as it reminds me of cooler days and thoughts turn to celebrations and gatherings in the months to come. There are festivals, trick-or-treating, recipes of Thanksgiving, and of course…Christmas! These days place us back in childhood when I would make my mother crazy in pursuit of a costume for Halloween and working up a list of much wished for toys for Santa Claus to deliver Christmas Eve. Mother of course, was able to get hers, when she reminded me that Santa was busy making a list of his own and chores still needed to be done and I was not on holiday from carrying them out.
However, autumn still comes first and there is need to savor these shorter days and cooler nights. Apples are freshest this time of year and that is plenty enough reason to take advantage of the harvest. Apple pie dominates this time of year, but when you don’t feel up to rolling out pie crusts for the dessert, Apple Crisp is a delious alternative.
Easy as this recipe is, there are many things to consider. Which apples are best? How much butter is too much butter? Should I cook the apples before adding them to the dish or keep them fresh before baking? I have tried many recipes for Apple Crisp and I found the combination that works best for me and I would like to pass it on to you. I hope you will find these subtle changes to be worth the effort. Don’t wory, it is still an easy apple crisp.
I used Gala apples with one Granny Smith apple and cooked the apples in a skillet with a tablespoon of butter and 1/4 cup sugar and 1/3 cup of apple liqueur. This is an optional step. If using a softer apple, I would omit this step altogther.
I also increased the amount of butter, as the recipe called for 1/3 cup of butter, but I found this did not produce enough liquid when baking. Using 1/3 cup butter left the apples dry and tough. I used 1/2 cup of butter instead.
Easy Apple Crisp
4-5 medium sized cooking apples; sliced (your choice, though I found Granny Smith was tough as shoe leather after baking)
3/4 cups of brown sugar
1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
1/2 cup of quick-cooking oats
1/2 cup (8 Tbsp.) butter
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
Heat oven to 350*. Grease bottom and sides of an 8 inch baking pan. (I used the inside wrapper from the butter for this)
Spread apples in pan. Mix together the next 6 ingredients well. Sprinkle the mixture over the apples.
Bake for 30 minutes or until the topping is browned and apples are tender when pierced with a fork.
The last days of summer are dwindling down as we begin to settle into new routines and prepare ourselves for cooler days ahead.
This time of year in the South always reminds me of the dilemmas my mother faced in getting us kids ready for school. Cold mornings turned into steamy, hot afternoons, and Mom never knew quite how to guide us in choosing our wardrobe. A sweater in the morning meant a sweater peeled off by noon and either left on the classroom coat rack, or on the bus afterschool. Short sleeves and shorts worn out the door, meant shivering in a cold classroom before the heat of the day turned the school into a sweatbox. Somehow, we survived.
Every school year begins with added challenges and this particular year is definitely no exception. But keep in mind the Bible verse that tells us, “This too shall pass,” and know better days are ahead.
But while summer still clings to our memory, why not cool off with a bite of refreshing, Lemon Meringue Pie? It might not solve our problems, but it could make Summer 2020 a little more bearable.
Lemon Meringue Pie
1 1/2 cups sugar 1 3/4 cups milk ( 1) 9 in. baked pie shell
1/3 cup cornstarch 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/8 tsp. salt 3 Tbsp. butter
4 egg yolks 1 tsp. lemon zest
1. Preheat oven to 325*. Whisk together the first three ingredients, (sugar, cornstarch, salt) in a medium saucepan.
2. Whisk together the egg yolks and next two ingredients, (milk and lemon juice), in a large bowl. Whisk with the sugar mixture in saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, and whisk constantly for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Stir in butter and lemon zest until smooth. Spoon mixture into baked piecrust.
3. Spread Mile-High Meringue (recipe below) over the hot filling being sure to seal edges.
4. Bake at 325* for 20-25 minutes, or until meringue peaks are lightly browned. Let cool on a wire rack for about 1 hour. Store in refrigerator. Serves 8 people.
Mile -High Meringue
6 egg whites
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 cup sugar 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1. Beat egg whites and cream of tartar at high speed with an electric mixer until just foamy.
2. Gradually add sugar, 1 Tbsp. at a time, beating until stiff peaks form and sugar is dissolved. (About 2-4 minutes). Add vanilla, beating well. Makes enough for a 9 inch pie.
Summer is beginning to settle down from the waves of heat and humidity into the softer temperatures of fall. And as I see less peaches in stock in my local supermarket, I begin to think of using up every last bit of summer days and the fruits of the season.
This summer has been difficult for many people. Their thoughts have been occupied with greater concerns than if they can whip up a simple summer dessert for a family racked each day with questions as to how to keep safe, healthy, and make the family budget each month.
However, when we keep to our traditions, we find a sense of comfort and comfort food always brings us back to our place of ease. Peach Pie might not solve the world’s problems, but it won’t hurt either. I found this recipe in Southern Living from years gone by and it is easy to make and uses fresh peaches still in season. I hope you will give this recipe a try and remember to breathe…we are all in this together, so let’s bake together.
So-Easy Peach Pie
1/4 cup butter
7 fresh peaches, peeled and sliced (about 3 lbs.)
1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice (I used the Real Lemon Brand and found no difference in taste)
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 (14.1 oz. packaged refrigerator pie crust) You can also use some leftover pie crust and cobble it together.
1 egg white, lightly beaten and 1 Tbsp. sugar
1. Preheat oven to 450*. Melt butter in Dutch oven over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low; add peaches, 1 cup sugar, cinnamon and lemon juice; simmer 7-8 minutes, or until tender.
2. Unroll pie crust on a flat surface.
3. Mix egg white and 1 Tbsp. water together.
4. Pour peach mixture into a 9 inch pie plate or small casserole dish. Place pie crust on top of peach mixture.
5. Brush egg white mixture over pie crust and sprinkle with 1 Tbsp. sugar.
6. Bake in oven for 8-10 minutes or until pie crust is golden brown.
Add whipped topping or ice cream on top of peach pie before serving.
It is hot! The temps outside are running in the 90’s and heat indices are close to 100 degrees plus. A cool, and creamy dessert is just what I need right now. This one is guaranteed to hit the spot.
This recipe has been around for a while. It only requires boiling water to make the Jello, and if you own a tea kettle, it makes the process so much easier and cooler on you and your kitchen. I cut down on the gelatin’s cooling time by sitting the bowl into an ice bath. I used frozen,sliced strawberries to cut down on time spent slicing fresh strawberries into halves.
There is so much to like about this recipe and it is very easy and makes a dessert with a hint of saltiness from the pretzel crust, with sweetness from the Jello and strawberries for a sweet/salty surprise.
Strawberry Pretzel Delight
1 cup pretzels, finely crushed (measure once the pretzels are crushed)
1/3 cup of melted butter
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 cup powdered sugar
4 ounces cream softened cream cheese
1 1/2 cups Cool Whip (whipped cream)
1 cup mini marshmallows
3 ounces strawberry Jello
1 1/4 boiling water
1 cup frozen or fresh strawberries, sliced
Mix finely crushed pretzels, butter, and granulated sugar. Press into 8′ square pan. Bake at 350* for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
Cream powdered sugar and cream cheese; fold in Cool Whip. Add marshmallows; spread on cooled crust.
Dissolve Jello in boiling water. Allow to chill until mix is slightly thickened. Stir in strawberries.
Forgive me by my going off subject this once in the few years since I began this blog, but baking is impossible right now, let alone writing about it during the current situation in our country. I hope those who read my blog for recipes and southern baking will excuse me as I go off on a rant.
First, I like so many millions around the world, am horrified by the continued brutality and injustices aimed at the African-American and other non- Caucasian people in America. I also know our police forces have a very difficult job to do and it requires a personality that can endure situations putting their lives at risk. I have a nephew in law enforcement and I worry about him when I hear of these vicious acts.
Many of you may not be familiar with British historian, Lucy Worsley. Her documentaries are journeys into the unspoken facets of British lives in a time long gone by. I have been a fan for years. When I watched her BAFTA award-winning documentary, “Sufferagettes,” last year on the streaming service, Britbox, I was moved to tears. The reenactments and portrayals of the women who fought and endured horrifying acts of brutality for the right to vote, was a turning point for me. I often shoo away politics and vote on occasion, but now I feel a sense of duty to uphold the rights women suffered so much to gain for future generations. That includes me whether or not I asked them to do so on my behalf.
It wasn’t comfortable to watch reenactments of women being slandered, molested, assaulted, inprisoned, and strapped down in chairs and force-fed as a doctor pours liquids down a tube shoved in their noses and down into their stomachs. But this didn’t stop them. They were determined to have the right to speak, to vote, to have a voice after millenia of being treated as chattel. It was not an easy fight and not easily won. Women were killed, and many died from mistreatment in the process. Eventually, after decades of being denied their right to vote, these women employed terrorist tactics to get their points taken seriously.
The documentary is more than just a fact-by-fact telling of this happened on such-and-such date; instead, it brings these women to life and we, the on-lookers, are a part of what they endured.
In watching “Sufferagettes,” I see the parallel with the struggle of African-Americans and their struggles with equality. They want what those brave women around the world fought for 100 years ago, to be treated like a human being, and nothing less. I can’t say I understand what the feelings are of being black in America, but I do appreciate their feelings of anger. I have had encounters with police in the past over traffic violations that left me wondering…is it because I am a woman? Why is this happening.
No woman feels safe driving dark roads at night. Blue flashing lights in rear-view mirrors are cause for a quickened pulse. My mother and I experienced this when we were pulled over one winter night by a police officer asking, “why we were out at night.” And his reason for pulling us over? Driving too slow. (We were only slightly under the speed limit.)
Another, more recent occasion occurred during the day on a two-lane country highway. My mother and I were going out for a shopping excursion one afternoon when we made a right-hand turn into a two-lane country highway. (Not the same on as mentioned above). A police car driving in the opposite direction turned around in the highway and proceeded to follow us. We thought nothing of it thinking he must have received an emergency call as he was closing in on us. Imagine our panic when another police car topped the hill opposite of us and drove straight at us ay a high rate of speed, blocking our path!
“Oh my God!” I cried. “Do they think we just robbed a bank?”
The officer that had pulled up behind us proceeded to lecture us very curtly that we had, “just rolled right through that stop sign back there.” He continued to lecture us that the sign says, “S-T-O-P! Stop! Not Y-I-E-L-D!” (Yes, he spelled it out to us.)
With racing hearts and apologies to the officer he returned to his patrol car and left us to wait for I assume to check our insurance and license information we had provided. He returned with a written warning but not before spelling out the Stop sign again. And to make sure we remembered that. All this for performing what is known simply as a “California stop.” Yes, I know it wasn’t right, but did it require such aggressiveness?
I certainly do not place those isolated incidents on the same scale as what happens with people in the black community, but it gives me reason to wonder why these police officers needed to pull us over, two white women, alone on lone country roads and proceed to talk to us as if we were children who had committed a wrong and needed a darn good scolding from someone in “authority.”
I am not a child, and I don’t like being treated like one. And that is how people of non-white, non-male, society have dealt with and continue to endure.
Lucy Worsley concludes her documentary asking what we are willing to suffer in efforts to demand our rights as human beings. The women of long ago triumphed because they were willing to do whatever it took to have their rights. They didn’t want to endure what they suffered, but their hand was forced. Too many years of violence against them stirred them to the extremes of violence in response. It runs on the same lines of what we see in society today.
I am writing this because I am angry and tired. I am sick of watching people being murdered. I am tired of excuses and complicity. Please, I ask if you don’t understand the anger in these protests, watch “Sufferagettes.” It is available for viewing on Britbox. You can join their service for the free trial period, watch the documentary and cancel afterward. This is too important to people everywhere and the only way we can end these senseless acts of criminality against each other is to listen and understand what others who are different from them endure everyday of their lives.
It was only a couple of months ago when I was tired of chocolate. This was a shock to me, as I am a self-confessed chocoholic. It just seemed, at the time, I was overwhelmed by the recent chocolate covered holidays and sickly sweet sentiments. My, what a difference a couple of months makes. Perhaps it is the uncertainty of the pandemic and the negativity of daily news feeds reporting the worst that causes us to return to our past and what seemed like simpler times, that makes us crave the flavors of childhood.
Last week, it came back to me with a fury. I wanted chocolate cream pie. There was no rhyme or reason to it, I just fancied a homemade chocolate cream pie, the kind like you see displayed under a glass cake dome in the local diner, or offered among the many desserts while standing in line at the K&W Cafeteria.
I tried to remember the last time I had tasted a truly homemade chocolate cream pie. It would have been before my teen years. Yes, it was that long ago.
My mother made chocolate cream pie using chocolate pudding as the filling for the pie, topped with mounds of whipped cream. I still rememebr the long wait for the pudding to set and scraping the bottom of the plate for the last bit of chocolate and flaky pie crust.
But without ready-to-serve pudding mix in my cabinets, I looked through my cookbooks for a recipe that would come close to what I remembered. I found this particular recipe in a cookbook dedicated to pie making. I tweaked it a bit however by adding two 2 ounce squares of dark chocolate to the custard mix while it was still hot for an added punch of rich chocolate flavor. The picture was from what was left of the pie after my mother and I indulged. That’s what happens when you neglect chocolate cream pie for too long!
Diner Worthy Chocolate Cream Pie
9 inch baked pastry pie shell 12 ounce can evaporated milk
1 1/2 cups water (or coffee for a more mocha flavor)
(2) 2 ounce squares dark chocolate (86% cacao)
In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, salt, water, (or coffee), and evaporated milk. Stir until smooth. Cook mixture over medium heat until thick and bubbling. This may take 3 minutes or longer depending on your stove and heat source. Reduce heat and continue to cook for 2 minutes.
Remove mixture from heat and slowly stir in beaten egg yolks. Return to heat and bring the mixture to a slow boil. Stir continually.
Remove from heat and add the butter and vanilla. Continue to stir to allow mixture to cool slightly and add two 2 ounce squares of dark chocolate to the mixture. (optional)
Pour warm; not hot, mixture into pie shell and cool for at least 1 hour, then place pie in refrigerator and allow pie to set. Garnish pie with whipped topping.
Hint* Place cling film over slightly cooled pie before placing in refrigerator so as not to allow a skin to form on top of pie. Remove before serving with whipped cream.
I still remember shop class. I hated it. My saving grace was that as an asthmatic, I was forbidden by my doctors to be exposed to the dust and small particles surrounding such an environment. I was appointed to helping out in the library. Whew! But I did enjoy baking cookies. However, that was never an option in my school days. The 80’s had turned the tide of the American schoolroom. Girls were no longer regulated to baking and sewing; now they took Shop, along with the boys. I am sure, had it not been for my asthma, I would have learned some very important skills in home improvement.
A few years ago, a small, private, women’s college opened their doors to men. This was met with great opposition from female students and graduates who believed their alma mater’s traditions were being challenged. To make matters worse, the staff and faculty had decided, without input from graduates or students, to remove Home Economics majors from their courses of study. The faculty along with many of the incoming young students believed Home Economics was passe and no longer useful, and a slap against women. Girls today were programming computers not kitchen stoves.
Now, ten years later, the world is experiencing a pandemic not seen since the Spanish Influenza outbreak in 1919. One hundred and one years later has produced a generation who believes food comes from a supermarket and clothes from The Gap. No one has learned from their school lessons that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
If we had listened to those bright, intelligent graduates from years past, we would not be so quick to dismiss their hard work or to complain now. We would not be in a panic over toilet tissue as we would know how to make due with cloth strips and the flush, wash and reuse as our mothers did with cloth diapers; before we became a disposable world.
We would also know the fundamentals of food preservation and canning for a “rainy” day. Right now we are under a deluge.
Sewing skills would be handy as we could make our own masks and help protect ourselves and others. I am thankful I learned to use a needle and thread at a young age. I can sew a button back on my shirt and fashion a few simple stitches for emergency hems. Thank goodness so many women from the generations before us were savvy enough to use those skills others called outdated, to make masks for family and friends.
Meal planning, budgeting a household, making clothes, making due with resources at hand…all but about gone and needed now more than ever!
Maybe when the pandemic has faded and life begins to resemble once again some picture of normalcy, high schools across the nation will encourage home economics for all of their students as we remember the importance of life skills in a world that believes a computer can do everything for you. Maybe there will be a resurgence of Home Economics degrees throughout our universities and colleges. If so, I might exchange my Associates’ for a four year degree.
Who is with me on this? Are we doomed to keep repeating lessons until they are learned? I’m for Home Economics Now!
As I have been using this time of social distancing as an opportunity to expand on my baking skills, I decided it was time to have a showdown with plain old sandwich bread. I have a history with bread making that rivals my troubles with cakes. My cakes don’t rise very well, but my bread always does, it’s just the final result is a dense, heavy bread as my mom says, “you could knock a bull in the head with it.
So now is the time for all good men (and women) to come to the aid of their country. I am doing my part by becoming as self-reliant as possible. It is amazing how well off bakers are when it comes to tough times. Our skills shine brightest in adversity. I remember my mother whipping up a batch of cookies without sugar, she used Jello as a replacement. Of course the cookies were of a different color, but they were cookies nonetheless.
Getting back to my adventures in bread making, I have tried several recipes and all with similar results. I won’t claim to take full responsibility though as making a loaf of bread can be as fussy as brewing the perfect pot of tea. I have no control over kitchen temperatures, humidity levels, or if the bread making gods are up to ensuring a perfect dough rise. All I can do is follow orders and do my best, the rest is out of my hands.
I found a recipe for white sandwich bread in Phyllis Pelham Good’s, “Fresh From Central Market” Cookbook. And with its basic ingredients and simple instructions, I felt I could not go wrong. I also saved a page from an old copy of Cook’s Illustrated on making bread and referred to it many times through the process. I learned that room temperature does indeed affect the rise of the dough, and a longer proof can be beneficial to the quality of flavor that develops as the dough rises. I also learned the chefs at America’s Test Kitchen prove their dough in the refrigerator to allow a longer proof for better flavor!
So with all my ingredients at hand, tools at the ready, and enough written information to overwhelm the most solid chef, I began another journey into producing a loaf of bread I could actually eat!
My results were good. The texture was still rather dense, but the loaves came from the oven nicely browned on top and the crumb, though close, was still tasty to eat. I used the loaf for a turkey sandwich the next day and found it was as good as anything I could have bought from the grocery store.
So if you are like me and have found bread making intimidating, try this recipe for a first time attempt. I think it can work for anyone.
Homemade White Bread
1 ½ tbsp. Fleischmann’s yeast
1 tbsp. sugar (I used Dixie Crystals)
2 cups warm water, divided
½ cup cooking oil (I used canola)
5 ½ cups occident, or white bread flour (Pillsbury’s is my favorite)
In a 2-cup glass measuring cup, sprinkle yeast and 1 tbsp. sugar into 1 cup warm water. Let stand for 10 minutes.
Pour yeast mixture into a large mixing bowl. Gradually add oil, remaining cup of water, ⅓ cup sugar, salt, and flour, stirring constantly.
When well mixed, pour dough onto lightly floured board. Knead well, until dough is no longer sticky.
Cover with a tea towel. Let rise in a warm place. Check after 1 hour; dough should have doubled in size.
Punch down. Cover and let rise another hour.
Punch down. Divide dough in half. Shape into two loaves. Put into two greased loaf pans. Pierce tops with a fork.
Let rise until dough comes a little above tops of pans, about 30-60 minutes.