A history major and bread aficionado, Ellen King became intrigued by the abundance of grains once available and commonly grown in the United States that had, since World War II, completely disappeared from the marketplace and which often didn’t seem to exist anymore.
“I spent some time in Norway and bread was about all I could afford to eat,” says King, who earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in history and then attended the Seattle Culinary Academy and worked in several Seattle restaurants before she moved to Evanston, Illinois. Shocked at finding that Chicago didn’t have the types of breads she yearned for, she began a search for heirloom grains and began making bread the old fashioned way—using natural wild yeasts as an ingredient, mixing and turning the dough by hand for several hours and then injecting steam for a crisp crust while it bakes in an imported European oven.
But that wasn’t enough for King, who in 2013 opened Hewn Bakerywith partner Julie Matthei in Evanston, Illinois and is the author of Heritage Baking: Recipes for Rustic Breads and Pastries Baked with Artisanal Flour with Amelia Levin (Chronicle Books). For her hand foraged breads she wanted to harken back to the grains of a century or so ago instead of using the homogenous flour currently turned out by big corporate mills.
What good was opening a bakery if I couldn’t find good ingredients, King remembers thinking. Partnering with farmer Andrea Hazard who was interested in growing heirloom grains, the two finally connected with Stephen Jones, a wheat breeder and the Director of The Bread Lab at Washington state University. Jones, who earned a PhD in Genetics from the University of California at Davis, suggested she and, a farmer who was interesting in growing heritage wheat, read old farming journals to find out what varieties that were grown at the turn of the last century.
“There are literally over 10,000 varieties of wheat,” King says. “One person told me 100,000.”
The names are romantic–Rouge de Bordeaux, Turkey Red and Marquis. But the seeds seemed ephemeral. Take Marquis, a hard red spring wheat first introduced in Canada in 1895. It was among the most widely grown wheat in the United States between the 1910s through the 1930s. During the 1920s, Marquis accounted for 59% of the wheat produced in Wisconsin. By the time King went looking for it, Marquis was no longer grown and she couldn’t find the seeds.
But her years during historical research paid off. Countless queries led to a college professor who had 2.2 pounds of Marquis wheat. Planting the seeds King and Hazard were able to produce 30 pounds the first year. Now they hope to have 3000 seeds which will yield enough to both make bread and save seeds.
“That way we can grow more and share with other farmers,” she says.
Selecting a loaf of bread from Hewn is like taking a step back into history. The menu of hand-forged breads made from organic, locally sourced re-discovered wheat varieties include those made with Turkey Red, a heritage variety of wheat grown in Wisconsin and Kansas Lower in gluten the bread has a nutty flavor and Red Fife–a heritage variety of wheat grown and milled in Wisconsin.
Why did these varieties disappear, I ask King.
“After World War II the cherished varieties fell out of favor,” she says. “And when we did that we lost the uniqueness of each region where the wheat grew and we lost the flavor. Along with the homogenization of our wheat, we added fertilizers and products like Round-Up and made bread less healthy.”
It was all about efficiency and mass production.
“General Mills flour is always exactly the same and large scale baking needs that consistency,” she says. “At Hewn, I invest in people, not machinery. For us, it’s about training the baker in how to treat and understand the flour.”
Just as wine connoisseurs can recognize the terroir of grapes, King can do the same with wheat. And though heirloom produce like tomatoes, squash and peppers has become a major player in farming, she says wheat varieties are still lagging.
But she enjoys the challenge of finding farmers who are growing them.
“There are more and more people doing it,” she says. “I met this guy who is growing Pedigree Number 2. At first I couldn’t find any one growing Red Kharkoff anywhere, but now I’m connecting with a farmer in Washington state who is growing it and all sorts of grains. It takes time, but it’s worth it—it’s better for the soil, for the environment and for our health. It tastes great. And also, it’s history.”
Heritage Corn and Berry Muffins
Excerpted with permission from Heritage Baker by Ellen King
Note: Most of the recipes in Heritage Baker require preparing a starter which is a process that takes several days. King recommended that beginners start with one of her muffin recipes as they are the simplest to make. She also notes that the flavor of flint corn is rich and pronounced but if you can’t find Floriani, any flint corn variety from your region will work well for this recipe. You can also, more easily, substitute regular or coarsely ground cornmeal which is found in supermarkets. Be sure to avoid finely ground cornmeal. Brands available in grocery stores like Bob’s Red Mill offer coarse ground coarse meal and a variety of flours. There are several places in Michigan where you can order specialty heirloom flours.
Country Life Natural Foods in Pullman, Michigan is a wholesaler but also sells in small amounts. They offer mail order and delivery. 641 52nd St., Pullman, MI 800-456-7694.
Ingredients for some of the grains in King’s book such as flint corn can be found online, at specialty stores or at farm markets.
Janie’s Mill in Askum, Illinois offers a wide variety of flours including Organic Black Emmer, Organic Einkorn, and Organic Red Fife Heirloom Flour as well as other products such as Whole Organic Spelt Berries, Organic Bloody Butcher Cornmeal, and Organic Turkey Red Flour among many others.
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 13/4 cups sifted heritage flour, such as White Sonora or Richland
- 1/2 cup fine-milled Floriani Flint or other heritage cornmeal
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
- 1 cup strawberries, quartered, or blueberries
- 1/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup stone rolled heritage oats
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 12-cup muffin pan.
To make the batter, stir together the granulated sugar and eggs in a large bowl until combined. Stir in the heavy cream, sour cream, and vanilla, followed by the melted butter. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and stir just until combined.
Using a wooden spoon, very gently fold in the berries. Do not overmix. Using an ice cream scoop, spoon the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups; the cups should be three-quarters full.
To make the streusel topping, combine the brown sugar, oats, and butter in a small bowl. Using a spoon or your hands, stir until the mixture becomes crumbly. Sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of the topping over each muffin.
Bake for 25 minutes, or until a metal skewer or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature, or freeze in a resealable plastic bag for up to 3 months. To reheat, set on the counter until thawed and warm in a 325°F oven for 10 minutes.
Hewn in the News: Food & Wine magazine featured Hewn as one of the Best Bakeries in America and in the article The Best Bread in Every State. Hewn was listed among the Best Bread Bakeries at the Food Network, and as one of the Best Bakeries in Chicago by Thrillist. Click here to listen to their recent interview on the WBBM Noon Business Hour. Click here to read Midwest Living Magazine’s “Best of the Midwest.” Click here to watch Steve Dolinsky’s recent segment on the bakery on NBC5 Chicago. To learn more about their expansion to Libertyville, click here.
My friends at Mindy Bianca Public Relations tell me they love representing Bowling Green, Kentucky for many reasons, but at the top of their list is the fact it’s the hometown of Duncan Hines. Most of us know his name from boxed cake mixes sitting on the grocery shelves, but that’s just part of his story as Mindy would say. Here’s a big wedge of American pop culture for you … perhaps best served with a tall glass of milk.
Duncan Hines was a traveling salesman who didn’t know much about cooking but knew a lot about good food and he kept notes during his travels and made recommendations for fellow travelers. His notes became books and his books became best sellers with names like “Adventures in Good Eating” and Adventures In Good Cooking And The Art Of Carving In The Home Tested Recipes Of Unusual Dishes From America’s Favorite Eating Places. Mindy and her team selected these cakes in homage to Hines who was born on March 26, 1880. And these aren’ts any old cakes, they’re confectionary marvels that will make you want to hit the road!
Let’s start close to where Duncan Hines himself did … right near Bowling Green, Kentucky. Boyce’s General Store is a foodie heaven, serving as the kitchen and retail shop for two phenomenal dessert bakers, The Pie Queen and The Cake Shop. Though the dynamic duo who bake the cakes create all sorts of flavors – the display case simply makes your mouth water – we’re most intrigued by the bundt cakes. No matter which flavor you get, you can expect a cake that’s moist and rich and covered in a cream cheese glaze. If you don’t need to serve 10 to 12 of your closest friends, go for the mini sampler, which features one each of chocolate, apple spice, snickerdoodle and red velvet.
For years, Caroline’s Cakes has been sending its delicacies out through their successful mail-order service. Last year, though, the bakers finally opened a storefront along Beaumont Avenue in Spartanburg, meaning that visitors to this town along the northern border of South Carolina can finally walk into a shop for an immediate taste of one of the city’s most delicious exports. The 7-Layer Caramel Cake features – surprise! – seven layers of moist yellow cake crowned by melt-in-your-mouth caramel icing. It’s a Southern classic that has achieved ultimate success: making it to Oprah’s list of favorite things! (It’s on our list of favorite things, too, but we know that doesn’t carry nearly as much prestige as Oprah’s.)
Hummingbird Cake from Lola
Historic downtown Covington, Louisiana Northshore
When Hurricane Katrina blew through Louisiana in 2005, Keith and Nealy Frentz, who were both sous chefs at the world-famous Brennan’s restaurant in New Orleans, found themselves out of work. They evacuated to Keith’s hometown of Covington and opened their own restaurant just a year later. It’s hard to decide on the very best meal at Lola – we can confirm that everything on the menu is delicious – but one thing is certain: You must end that meal with a piece of hummingbird cake. Nealy uses her grandma’s recipe to craft this moist banana cake that’s filled with chunks of juicy pineapple and a dash of cinnamon. It’s all topped off with a decadent cream cheese icing, ensuring that both the fruit and dairy food groups are beautifully represented. Hooray for Nealy’s take on the food pyramid!
Lane Cake from The Hummingbird Way Oyster Bar
Lane Cake was invented by Emma Rylander Lane more than 100 years ago as an entry in Alabama’s state fair, with its recipe being officially published in a cookbook in 1898. It entered popular culture through multiple mentions in Harper Lee’s 1960 novel To Kill a Mockingbird, and it ultimately bumped hummingbird cake (sorry, Nealy!) out of the way to become Alabama’s official state dessert. The cake gets its incredible flavor from its rich icing, which is made with chopped pecans, golden raisins, coconut and Alabama whiskey and then spread between layers and layers of moist cake. Chef Jim Smith, proprietor of The Hummingbird Way Oyster Bar, one of Mobile’s favorite restaurants, is the former executive chef for the State of Alabama … so we can confirm he knows his way around the state’s favorite dessert.
Italian Cream Cake from Cajun Pecan House
The MBPR team is proud to represent an array of Southern destinations, and you’ll see a running theme among them when it comes to their baked goods: moist cake, some sort of fruit or nut, cream cheese icing. Our favorite selection in Lafourche Parish, Louisiana, aka “Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou,” is the Italian Cream Cake from the charming Cajun Pecan House. The place lives up to its name and tosses pecans on and in pretty much everything. Lots of folks come here looking for a pecan pie or a praline – both of which are delicious – but the bakers also put plenty of their namesake nut into a yellow cake batter that’s made extra-moist by the addition of coconut. Then they slather it in a rich cream cheese icing that’s topped with additional coconut and – you guessed it – more pecans! It feels more Southern than Italian to us, but we are NOT complaining!
Caramel Cake from Deep South Cake Company
Your sweet tooth will get quite a workout at the Deep South Cake Company, which is home to a dazzling array of cakes and cupcakes. But the winner by a landslide – the bakery sells at least 1,400 of them between Thanksgiving and Christmas alone – is the legendary caramel cake. Shannon Rumley and her team put a lot of time and energy into this cake, which features a burnt sugar icing that Shannon’s mother and grandmother taught her how to make when she was just a kid. Achieving the proper consistency for the icing requires constant stirring, so this cake truly is a labor of love. If you’re not into caramel – or if you’re loyal to Caroline’s Cakes (see above) and feel guilty eating a caramel cake from anywhere else – don’t fear: Shannon’s second-best seller is a strawberry cake that cuts the sweet with a little zip from the berries.
Pink Champagne Cake from Spark’d Creative Pastry
The bake shop at the historic HOTEL DU PONT in Wilmington, Delaware
Speaking of strawberries, how about that classic romantic combo of berries and champagne? There’s a lot to love about a stay in the historic HOTEL DU PONT in downtown Wilmington, but we think that being just a few paces away from the offerings at Spark’d, the hotel’s bake shop, is one of the strongest motivators for booking a room here. The Pink Champagne Cake is the delightful merger of strawberry cake, strawberry jam and Champagne buttercream icing. With a little advance notice, the hotel’s pastry team is also happy to create a custom design to ensure that the cake you order is perfectly suited to its recipient.
Gingerbread Cake from Mrs. Johnnie’s Gingerbread House
A Louisiana bakery that proves that so-called seasonal cakes are amazing all year round is Mrs. Johnnie’s Gingerbread House. Locals know – and visitors are finally discovering – that gingerbread is appropriate for every season, not just Christmastime. This low-key shop, which is easily mistaken for a neighborhood home, is hidden in plain sight. But those in the know (many of whom learned about the Gingerbread House thanks to a viral TikTok video last year) can tell you that this popular establishment offers a special cake that throws one heck of a Christmas party in your mouth. Leona Guillory Johnnie, the original owner of the bakery, spent 40 years perfecting the recipe. Today her son, Kevin Ames, continues her legacy, also serving traditional tea cakes and an array of pies.
Pinch Me Round from Jamaica
Look for the “Cake Man” on the beaches of Negril during a stay at Sunset at the Palms
It’s not gingerbread, but some people swear that ginger is the magic ingredient in a dessert that our client resort in Jamaica turned us on to. It’s called “gizzada,” but it also goes by the nickname “Pinch Me Round.” Though it’s technically more of a tart than a cake, the fact that a guy called the “Cake Man” sells gizzadas during his rounds on the beaches of Negril convinced us that the dessert warrants a spot on our list. Each islander has their own spin on this classic Jamaican dessert, which features a pinched pastry shell filled with plenty of sweet, grated coconut. Some bakers like to add a touch of ginger to give it a little kick. The dessert is said to have originated among Portuguese Jews who came to Jamaica to escape persecution, but over the years the Jamaicans have made the dessert truly their own. In fact, they say that the shape of the treat will remind you of the shining sun you’ll see on your trip to the island.
Tricia’s Jamaican Rum Cake from Market Wego
Westwego, Louisiana, in Jefferson Parish
If you can’t get to Jamaica right now, you may be able to live vicariously with a visit to Market Wego, a proper Cajun market in southeastern Louisiana. Its owner, River Shay, says her grandmother, Tricia, simply loved visiting Jamaica. On each of her trips, Tricia liked to sample the island’s rum cakes. Over the years, she took what she loved about each variation to create her very own recipe. Her cake truly pays homage to Duncan Hines, because Tricia swore by using only a Duncan Hines cake mix as the base … and then adding an extra splash of rum at the end. Her recipe is still used to this day, and patrons order the cake at all hours – breakfast, lunch and dinner!
Flower Cupcakes from Dollywood
Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
Dolly Parton’s theme park is known for its delicious meal offerings – around here, “park food” means way more than hot dogs and funnel cakes – but during Dollywood’s annual Flower & Food Festival (this year held April 21 through June 11), the culinary team really steps up its game to make foods that are as attractive as they are tasty. One of our favorites is the collection of “flower cupcakes” available at Spotlight Bakery near the park’s entrance. Each flower cupcake is a beautiful work of art that celebrates the natural beauty of the park, which is nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee. And to bring it full circle, Parton recently collaborated with Duncan Hines’ namesake company, resulting in her very own line of cake, muffin and biscuit mixes.
“My cuisine has always been at the intersection of food and culture,” said Chef Deborah VanTrece, owner of the Twisted Soul Cookhouse and Pours in Atlanta, Georgia. “Having traveled the world as a flight attendant, I experienced how different cultures have their own versions of what we would call ‘soul food.’ My approach to cooking revolves around taking a modern, global approach to soul food, combined with the food I grew up eating with my family. THE TWISTED SOUL COOKBOOK will take you on a journey around the world right from your kitchen.”
Across chapters filled with vibrant photography, her book offers 100 recipes for dishes ranging from fresh salads and sides, generous entrees, exciting seafood, rich desserts, and brilliant as well as practical pantry staples to amplifying everyday cooking, including dressings, relishes, preserves, and sauces. An engaging teacher and storyteller, VanTrece shows home cooks the way to use techniques both simple and sophisticated to ensure a delicious outcome every time.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Chef Deborah VanTrece opened the acclaimed Twisted Soul Cookhouse and Pours in 2014, and since then, the award-winning soul food restaurant has appeared on numerous Best Of lists, including features in the New York Times, Bon Appetit, NPR, Eater, Essence, Thrillist, Buzzfeed, Kitchn, and Food & Wine, winning acclaim for her mastery of imported cooking techniques and delicious globally informed cuisine.
She is included in 2020’s Tasty Pride: Recipes and Stories from the Queer Food Community; this is her first cookbook.
Grandma Lue’s Spinach Rice
- 3 cups cooked white rice, chilled
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- ½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
- ½ cup chopped celery
- ½ cup red bell pepper
- 1 cup chopped red onion
- 4 lbs fresh baby spinach, washed and trimmed
- 1 cup chopped marinated artichokes
- 12 oz cream cheese, room temperature
- ½ cup sour cream
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 350°. Generously grease a deep casserole or 9 by 13-inch baking pan.
In a large bowl, stir together the cold rice and beaten eggs.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the celery, peppers, onions and spinach and cook, stirring occasionally for 2 to 3 minutes, until the onions are translucent and the spinach is wilted.
Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the artichokes, cream cheese, sour cream, Parmesan and garlic. Cool for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cream cheese has melted and all of the ingredients are well combined.
Add the spinach-cheese mixture to the rice. With a wooden spoon, stir in the black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder and salt.
Spoon into prepared baking dish, and cover with foil. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until the top is nicely browned. Let rest for 15 minutes before serving.
Bacon-Praline Macaroni and Cheese
- 6 cups elbow macaroni, cooked al dente and drained
- 1 tbsp Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
- 1 tbsp ground white pepper
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp onion powder
- 3 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 8 cups milk, warmed
- 6 oz cream cheese, diced
- 12 oz. American cheese, diced
- 3 large eggs
- 8 oz applewood-smoked bacon (8 to 10 slices), cooked and crumbled
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 2 cups coarsely chopped pecans or pecan pieces
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup dried breadcrumbs
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Transfer the cooked macaroni to a large bowl.
In a small bowl, stir together the seasoned salt, white pepper, garlic powder and onion powder. Sprinkle half of this seasoning mixture and 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese over the macaroni and toss to combine.
In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and continue to whisk for 3 to 5 minutes, until it makes a light roux. Reduce the heat to medium and whisk in the milk. Once all the milk is incorporated, cook for another 5 to 8 minutes, until the sauce reaches a simmer. Add the diced cream cheese and American cheese in batches, stirring until smooth. Stir in 1 1/2 cups of the remaining shredded cheddar cheese and turn off the heat. Add the remaining seasoning mixture and stir well. Quickly whisk in the eggs until they are incorporated.
Country Captain Chicken Stew
This classic dish shows the influence of the Indian spice trade throughout the ports of the old South,’ says VanTrece about her recipe for a dish that dates back centuries.
- 1 (2 1/2- to 3-lb chicken, cut into 8 pieces
- 1 tsp Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp ground white pepper
- 2 tbsp duck fat or unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup chopped celery
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
- 1/2 cup chopped yellow bell pepper
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups chopped tomatoes (3 to 4 medium)
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 2 tbsp curry powder
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 (13.5-oz can coconut milk
- 1/2 cup raisins
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Peanut rice noodles:
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup sliced scallions
- 1 (8.8-oz package rice noodles, cooked according to package directions, tossed in a little vegetable oil to prevent clumping, and chilled for 30 minutes
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
- 1/2 cup toasted peanuts, plus more for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).
In a large bowl, sprinkle the chicken pieces with the seasoned salt, onion powder, garlic powder and white pepper. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 to 3 hours to marinate.
In a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat, melt the duck fat. When hot, add the chicken pieces and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Transfer to a platter and set aside.
Spring Pea, Bacon, and Radish Salad
“This dressing is so universally loved, it doesn’t need an explanation,” write VanTrece in the recipe’s introduction. “The extra herbs just add a notch to the flavor factor. It’s not only great for salads, you can use it atop salmon, fried green tomatoes, or as a dip for chicken wings.”
- 3 cups fresh or frozen peas (thawed, if frozen), blanched and drained, then chilled
- 6 slices applewood smoked bacon, cooked and crumbled
- 1 cup thinly sliced radishes
- 1/2 cup chopped red onion
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint, plus additional leaves for garnish
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 2 to 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon honey
- Salt and ground white pepper
In a large bowl, combine the peas, bacon, radishes, red onion, chopped fresh mint, and lemon zest, toss gently with the mayonnaise and honey. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and garnish with whole mint leaves. Serves 6.
Per serving: Per serving: 195 calories (percent of calories from fat, 54), 8 grams protein, 15 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams fiber, 12 grams total fat (4 grams saturated), 19 milligrams cholesterol, 324 milligrams sodium.
“This dressing is so universally loved, it doesn’t need an explanation,” writes VanTrece. “The extra herbs just add a notch to the flavor factor. It’s not only great for salads, you can use it atop salmon, fried green tomatoes, or as a dip for chicken wings.”
- 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1 teaspoon granulated onion
- 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
- 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
In a food processor, combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, buttermilk, salt, granulated garlic, granulated onion, and pepper and process until smooth. Pulse in the fresh parsley, oregano, thyme, and chives until just combined. The dressing should be creamy but with a pleasing texture from the herbs.
Makes about 4 cups.
Per serving: Per tablespoon: 23 calories (percent of calories from fat, 70), trace protein, 1 gram carbohydrates, trace fiber, 2 grams total fat (trace saturated fat), 3 milligrams cholesterol, 75 milligrams sodium.
Aunt Lucille’s 7UP Pound Cake
About this recipe, VanTrece writes, “This is a pound cake, and the only cake I can ever remember my Aunt Lucille ever making. For me, it will always carry cherished memories of celebrations and good times. This is the kind of recipe that reminds you how good old-fashioned cakes were (and can be). Definitely use 7UP for this recipe because it has a high level of carbonation that helps the cake to rise, and gives it a brighter, fresher lemon-lime flavor than other sodas.”
For the pound cake:
- 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3 cups granulated sugar
- 5 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon lemon extract
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 cups cake flour, sifted, divided
- 3/4 cup 7UP, divided
- For the 7UP glaze:
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons 7UP
- 1 teaspoon grated lime zest
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Spray a 10-inch Bundt or tube pan with nonstick cooking spray (see note above).
In the bowl of a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, cream together the butter and granulated sugar for 5 to 7 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Add the lemon zest, lemon extract, and vanilla extract and mix until combined. Add the flour one-third at a time and mix on low speed, alternating with 1/4-cup portions of the 7UP, mixing well after each addition.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool for 30 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack and lift the pan off of the cake. Let the cake cool on the rack.
While the cake cools, make the glaze: In a small bowl, stir together the confectioners’ sugar, lemon juice, 7UP, and lime zest until smooth.
Using a 6-inch wooden skewer or toothpick, poke holes in the top of the cooled cake. Slowly spoon the glaze over the cake, letting it run into the holes and over the surface.
Set the cake aside for 10 minutes before serving to let the glaze absorb into the cake and give it a lightly lacquered finish.
The cake can be made well in advance, wrapped tightly in plastic, and frozen for up to 4 months. It will keep moist and can be pulled out to thaw several hours before serving. It’s great served alone or with ice cream or fresh fruit compote. Serves 12 to 16.
Per serving: Per serving, based on 12: 598 calories (percent of calories from fat, 38), 6 grams protein, 89 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 25 grams total fat (15 grams saturated), 138 milligrams cholesterol, 36 milligrams sodium.
All the above recipes and images are excerpted from The Twisted Soul Cookbook by Deborah VanTrece. Copyright © 2021 Deborah VanTrece. Photography by Noah Fecks. Published by Rizzoli. Reproduced by arrangement with the publisher. All rights reserved
For the truly sinful, not to be missed are such classic cookbooks as Dorie Greenspan’s Baking Chez Moi: Recipes from My Paris Home to Your Home Anywhere (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; $26.99 Amazon price), a huge, brilliantly illustrated cookbook of the most delicious looking desserts. Greenspan, selected by Julia Child to write the New York Times bestseller Baking with Julia, also authored the James Beard award winning Baking: From My Home to Yours and Around My French Table named the Cookbook of the Year by the International Association of Culinary Professionals. She spends part of each year at her home in Paris (it would be so easy to hate her for this wonderful sounding lifestyle if she wasn’t so friendly and nice) and also in New York City and Westbrook, Connecticut.
Though France is known for its fabulous pastry shops, in “Chez Moi” Greenspan shares recipes created by home chefs.
“In France you can get all the butter puff pastry you want in the grocery store and buy the most extravagant cakes at patisseries,” says Greenspan. “But it was really a revelation to me that the patisserie desserts are not the same desserts you get in French homes. These are charming, uncomplicated, satisfying, and delicious but they’re not fussy at all.”
Intrigued by what her friends baked at home, Greenspan, who has spent nearly two decades living in France, traveled across the country collecting their recipes—from Alsace she includes both a Christmas Cake and because of the area’s beautiful plump cherries, a cherry crumble tart, Tart Tropezienne comes from Saint-Tropez, Olive Oil and Wine cookies from Languedoc-Roussillon and the Soft Salted-Butter Caramels (be still my beating heart) is often found in Brittany.
It took Greenspan some five years to test all the recipes for this, her 11th cookbook, because it was important to her to bring these desserts to America. That involved testing and re-testing with both American and French flours and even traveling from her home in the U.S. carrying five pound bags of flour—one can only imagine the panic at the airport if the flour containers had busted open. Each recipe begins with a story of how she discovered it and where it comes from.
“The stories make the food more personal,” she says.
Surprising, there are several recipes calling for cream cheese including one titled The Rugelach That Won Over France. Before, says Greenspan, the French thought of cream cheese only to be used to make cheesecakes and spread on bagels.
That was before about a decade ago when cream cheese came to France “big time,” says Greenspan noting the French call it Philadelphia rather than cream cheese. And, of course, there’s Nutella which Greenspan describes as being the peanut butter of France.
She also includes a recipe for Crackle Cream Puffs (along with other cream puff recipes including one filled with mascarpone) noting that just as we have our cupcake shops, right now in Paris there are shops selling nothing but cream puffs and that they can be filled to order while you wait.
For those new to French dessert making, Greenspan recommends starting off with her Custardy Apple Squares and then Laurent’s Slow-Roasted Pineapple. As for me, I’m moving straight on to the Soft Salted-Butter Caramels and the macarons.
Brown Butter-Peach Torte
Makes 8 servings
For the filling
- 2 pounds, ripe but firm peaches
- 3 tablespoons (1½ ounces) unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- Tiny pinch of fine sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract (or a drop of pure almond extract)
- Juice of ¼ lemon (or to taste)
For the crust
- 1 partially baked 9- to 9½-inch tart crust made with Sweet Tart Dough, cooled
- 1 recipe Sweet Tart Dough (recipe below), rolled into a 12-inch circle and refrigerated
- Sugar, for dusting (sanding sugar, if you’d prefer)
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
To make the filling: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Have a large bowl of ice cubes and cold water nearby.
Cut a small X in the base of each peach. Drop a few peaches at a time into the boiling water, leave them there for 30 seconds and then lift them out with a slotted spoon and drop them into the ice water. When they are cool enough to handle, slip off the skins. If you’ve got some hard-to-peel peaches, you can boil them for a few seconds more or just remove the remaining skin with a paring knife.
Dry the peaches, cut them in half, remove the pits and cut each peach into about a dozen chunks. If the peaches are small, cut fewer chunks; the torte is best when the pieces are about an inch on a side. Put the peaches in a bowl.
Put the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat and allow it to melt and then bubble. Stay close to the butter as it boils, and when it reaches a light caramel color, pull the pan from the heat. You may see some small dark brown spots on the bottom of the pan, and that’s fine; for sure you’ll catch the whiff of warm nuts. Wait a minute or two, then pour the butter over the peaches. Add the sugar, flour, salt and vanilla and gently stir everything together. Finish with the lemon juice, tasting as you go. I prefer the juice to be a background flavor, but you might want it to be more prominent, and, of course, the amount will depend on the sweetness of your fruit.
To assemble the torte: Put the tart pan on the lined baking sheet. Give the filling another stir and scrape it into the tart shell, smoothing the top. You should have just enough filling to come level with the edges of the crust.
Remove the circle of dough from the refrigerator and let it rest for a couple of minutes, just until it’s soft enough to maneuver without cracking. Brush the edges of the tart shell with water, then position the circle of dough over the crust. Press the rim of the torte with your fingers to glue the two pieces together and then, pressing on the rim as you go, cut the top circle even with the edges of the pan.
Use a knife, the wide end of a piping tip or a small cookie cutter to remove a circle of dough from the center of the torte—this is your steam vent. Brush the surface of the torte lightly with cold water and sprinkle it generously with sugar.
Bake the torte for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the crust is deeply golden brown and, most important, the butter is bubbling. If you think the crust is browning too quickly—the thick rim has a tendency to get dark—cover the torte lightly with a foil tent. Transfer the torte, still on its baking sheet, to a rack and allow it to cool until it’s only just warm or at room temperature before serving. As it cools, the buttery syrup will be reabsorbed by the peaches, which is just what you want—so don’t be impatient.
Serving: Whatever you serve with the torte—vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt (I like the tang of yogurt with the sweet peaches), softly whipped cream or even more softly whipped crème fraîche—don’t let it cover the top of the torte – it’s too pretty to hide.
Storing: You can partially bake the bottom crust up to 8 hours ahead and you can have the top crust rolled out and ready to go ahead of time, but the filling shouldn’t be prepared ahead. The baked torte is really best served that day. If you’ve got leftovers, refrigerate them. The crust will lose its delicateness, but the torte will still be satisfying.
Sweet Tart Dough (Pâte Sablée)
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar (powdered sugar)
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (9 tablespoons) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1 large egg yolk
Put the flour, confectioners’ sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse a couple of times to combine.
Stir the yolk, just to break it up, and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. When the egg is in, process in long pulses–about 10 seconds each–until the dough, whisk will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds.
Turn the dough out onto a work surface and very lightly and sparingly, knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.
To press the dough into the pan: Butter a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan, using all but one little piece of dough, which you should save in the refrigerator to patch any cracks after the crust is baked.
Don’t be too heavy-handed–press the crust in so that the edges of the pieces cling to one another, but not so hard that the crust loses its crumbly texture. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.
To partially or fully bake the crust: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust.
Put the tart pan on a baking sheet to bake the crust for 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. For a partially baked crust, patch the crust if necessary, then transfer the crust to a coking rack (keep it in is pan).
To fully bake the crust: Bake for another 8 minutes or so, or until it is firm and golden brown. (Keep a close eye on the crust’s progress–it can go from golden to way too dark in a flash). Transfer the tart pan to a rack and cool the crust to room temperature before filling.
To patch a partially or fully baked crust, if necessary: If there are any cracks in the baked crust, patch them with some of the reserved raw dough as soon as you remove the foil. Slice off a thin piece of the dough, place it over the crack, moisten the edges and very gently smooth the edges into the baked crust. If the tart will not be baked again with its filling, bake for another 2 minutes or so, just to that the rawness off the patch.
Storing: Well wrapped, the dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen up to 2 months. While the fully baked crust can be packed airtight and frozen for up to 2 months I (Dorie), prefer to freeze the unbaked crust in the pan and bake it directly from the freezer–it has the fresher flavor. Just add about 5 minutes to the baking time.
Excerpted from BAKING CHEZ MOI, (c) 2014 by Dorie Greenspan. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Pinsa Romana with Katie Parla.
Katie Parla, a Rome-based food and beverage educator, journalist, and award-winning cookbook author, takes us on to a deep dive into Pinsa dough (one of several Roman styles of flatbreads) and pizza making. Originally from New Jersey, katie not only has an art history degree from Yale but also a master’s degree in Italian Gastronomic Culture from the Università degli Studi di Roma “Tor Vergata”, a sommelier certificate from the Federazione Italiana Sommelier Albergatori Ristoratori, and an archeological speleology certification from the city of Rome.
“Eating & Drinking in Rome” (available for Kindle, Nook, and in PDF format), National Geographic’s Walking Rome, Tasting Rome: Fresh Flavors and Forgotten Recipes from an Ancient City, Flour Lab: An At-Home Guide to Baking with Freshly Milled Grains, American Sfoglino: A Master Class in Homemade Pasta, and Food of the Italian South: Recipes for Classic, Disappearing, and Lost Dishes
In her interactive cooking demonstration, Katie provides amazing tips and lots of history behind her pinsa dough recipe.
Katie Parla also co-hosts the Gola Podcast about Italian food culture. Her forthcoming cookbook, Food of the Italian Islands, will focus on Sicily and Sardinia and other lesser known Italian islands. She is currently working on an untitled pizza cookbook with Dan Richer of Razza in Jersey City, NJ who will be making a special appearance next Friday with Katie and Scott Wiener, a pizza expert, who runs the famous NY based Scott’s Pizza Tours. She also explores pizza making in Italay as the following You Tube video shows.
Katie focused on the Pinsa Romana from her book, Food of the Italian South (2019 Clarkson Potter) for this event, baking in the Breville Smart Oven Pizzaiolo. Katie is also the author of Tasting Rome: Fresh Flavors and Forgotten Recipes from an Ancient City
About the Cooking Demonstration
Breville presents exclusive virtual pizza demonstrations + live Q&A with local legend pizza makers and pizza-related renowned cookbook authors from around the world. Join us live or watch later if you can’t make it. Each stop will be guided by Scott Wiener, a pizza expert, who runs the famous NY based Scott’s Pizza Tours and is the founder of Slice Out Hunger.
Every Friday, tune in to meet pizza pros and get an in-depth view into their story and craft. From the New York Slice, Chicago Deep Dish, to the Margherita and so much more, you will learn the tips behind making each of these pies from the comfort of your own home.
After more than a decade of living in California, Shauna Sever resettled with her family in her home state of Illinois and rediscovered the storied, simple pleasures of home baking in her Midwestern kitchen, developing what she calls the 5 tenets of Midwest baking: Bake Big, Bake Easy, Bake with Purpose, Bake from the Past, and Bake in the Present. You may have seen Shauna discussing these tenets and sharing some of her favorite Midwest foods recently on CBS This Morning: Saturday.
As she’ll tell you: “From the Dakotas to Ohio, from Minnesota to Missouri, the Midwest is a veritable quilt of twelve states full of history, values, recipes, people, and places that make up the baking culture of the Heartland.” And with MIDWEST MADE, Sever offers bold recipes for treats we’ve come to know as all-American—from Bundt cakes to brownies—most traced to German, Scandinavian, Irish, Polish, French, Arab, and Italian immigrant families that came to call the American Midwest their home. Recipes include Swedish Flop, Polish Paczki, Danish Kringle, German Lebkuchen, Candy Bar Baklava, Ozark Skillet Cake, Cleveland-Style Cassata Cake, Nebraskan Runzas, Apricot and Orange Blossom Kolacky, Dark-Chocolate Pecan Mandelbrot, Marshmallow Haystacks and so much more…
Here’s one that you’ll be sure to love.
Honeyed Raspberry and White Chocolate Cream Pie
Serves 8 to 10
From the outset, this pie appears to be one of those floaty, feminine food things, because it’s just so dang pretty. However! The fluff factor here—a cloud of white chocolate cream, bolstered by cream cheese—is quickly tempered by the thick raspberry layer beneath it, sharp and nubbly with all those nutty little berry seeds, which I happen to love. The mix of cooked and raw berries help to intensify the raspberry flavor, making you wonder: why there aren’t more raspberry pies out there, anyway?
2 ounces/57 g high-quality white chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream
1 single batch My Favorite Pie Crust (see recipe at bottom), blind baked and cooled
2/3 cup/132 g granulated sugar
1/4 cup/32 g cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup/225 g lukewarm water
3 tablespoons/63 g honey
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 cups/500 g fresh raspberries, divided
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup/240 g heavy whipping cream, very cold
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
4 ounces/113 g full-fat cream cheese
4 ounces/113 g high-quality white chocolate, melted and cooled
Prepare the crust: Combine the white chocolate and cream in a small, microwave-safe bowl. Microwave with 20-second bursts on medium, stirring until smooth. Spread evenly over the bottom of the cooled crust. Allow to set at room temperature.
In a 3- to 4-quart/2.8 to 3.75 L saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, and salt until lumpfree.
Whisk in the lukewarm water, honey, and lemon juice. Add 2 cups/250 g of the raspberries. Cover and set the pan over high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Once the berries begin to break down and the mixture is slowly bubbling all over the surface like lava, cook for 2 timed minutes, stirring often. Stir in the butter. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool completely, about 1 hour.
Prepare the topping: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cream with the vanilla and almond extract until stiff peaks form. Transfer the whipped cream to a clean bowl. Swap out the whisk attachment for the paddle. Add the cream cheese and melted white chocolate to the mixer bowl (no need to clean it). Beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Gently stir about a third of the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture to lighten it, then carefully fold in the remaining whipped cream.
Assemble the pie: Scatter 1 cup of the remaining berries over the bottom of the crust. Spoon the raspberry filling over them, then add the remaining berries on top. Pipe or dollop the white chocolate cream topping over the pie, leaving a 1-inch/2.5 cm border of the ruby red filling all around the edges. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours to set. Let soften at room temperature for about 20 minutes before serving.
My Favorite Pie Crust
Pie crust purists will likely object, but I’m a big believer in using a food processor for pie crust making. If you don’t overdo it, it just doesn’t get any easier or faster.
We’ve all heard a thousand times that keeping the fat as cold as possible is the key to great pie crusts, and that’s certainly a great tip. But I add a few pinches and splashes that I consider insurance, for when the kitchen is hot or I’m distracted by any number of children or things.
Vinegar is great for tenderness: I like red wine vinegar, but cider vinegar is good, too. A little pinch of baking powder makes a flakier crust a little more foolproof in case you happen to overwork the dough (happens to the best of us). For a crust with a savory filling, I include the smaller amounts of sugar as listed here for flavor and browning. For sweet pies, use 1 or 2 tablespoons, as you like.
MAKES: 1 (9- or 10-inch/23 or 25 cm) round bottom pie or tart crust
11/3 cups/170 g unbleached all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon granulated sugar (see headnote)
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup/113 g very cold unsalted butter, cubed
1/4 cup/57 g ice water
11/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
SPECIAL NOTES > Pat the finished dough into a round disk before wrapping and chilling to make rolling it into a circle later much easier.
MAKES: 1 (9- or 10-inch/23 or 25 cm) round double-crusted or lattice-topped pie
22/3 cups/340 g unbleached all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
2 teaspoons to 2 tablespoons granulated sugar (see headnote)
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup/225 g very cold unsalted butter, cubed
1/2 cup/113 g ice water
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
SPECIAL NOTES > Divide the dough in half before shaping and wrapping. For a lattice top, make one disk slightly larger for the bottom crust.
MAKES: 1 (10 x 15-inch/30 x 43 cm) slab pie
51/3 cups/680 g unbleached all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
4 teaspoons to 4 tablespoons granulated sugar (see headnote)
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups/453 g very cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 cup/225 g ice water
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
SPECIAL NOTES: Make the dough in 2 batches (2 recipes of the doubled recipe, left), for the top and bottom crusts. Shape and wrap each batch separately.
METHOD: In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Pulse a few times to blend. Sprinkle half of the butter pieces over the dry ingredients. Process until the mixture resembles cornmeal, about 15 seconds. Add the remaining cold butter and pulse about 10 times, until this batch of butter cubes is broken down by about half.
In a measuring cup, combine the water and vinegar. Add about three quarters of the liquid to the bowl. Pulse about 10 times, or until the dough begins to form a few small clumps. Test the dough by squeezing a small amount in the palm of your hand. If it easily holds together and your palm isn’t dusty with floury bits, it’s done. If not, add an additional 1/2 tablespoon of vinegared water and pulse 2 or 3 more times. Repeat this process as needed just until the dough holds together. Turn out the mixture onto a work surface. With a few quick kneads, gather the dough into a mass.
For a single crust, pat the dough into a disk, wrapping tightly in plastic wrap. For double crust, divide the dough in half and shape into disks. For 2 slab crusts, shape each half of the dough into a 5 x 8-inch/12.5 x 20 cm rectangle. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before rolling.
TIP > The dough will keep tightly wrapped in the fridge for up to a week, and in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Reprinted with permission from MIDWEST MADE © 2019 by Shauna Sever, Running Press.