It’s been a couple of months since I have written about a cookbook, and I must say, this book is worth the wait. The book came to my attention as part of the #rainydaybitescookbookclub on Instagram. I know I have written about the club before, but Deborah Balint, the creator and host of the club has impeccable taste, so we all benefit from her ability to curate amazing books! Cheryl Days’ Treasury of Southern Baking is the type of book that I know I will be reaching for over and over again.
Cheryl Day is a self-taught baker and co-owner of Back in the Day Bakery in Savannah, Georgia. She comes from a long line of bakers including her great-great-grandmother Hannah Queen Grubs, who was born enslaved, and her great-grandmother Queen. Both women were gifted bakers who created successful businesses. Clearly, these gifts have been passed on to Cheryl as this is her 3rd bestselling book. The book was recently named as a James Beard Award nominee, which is the second nomination for Cheryl.
So, what have I baked so far? Several things, and every single one has been delicious. The first thing I made was Cheryl’s version of Bill Smith’s Famous Atlantic Beach Pie. After some research, I discovered that in North Carolina and much of the south, this pie is very well known, but this was the first I’d heard of it. I was intrigued by the mere notion of a saltine cracker pie crust. I’d never heard of such a thing, but as someone who delights in sweet treats with a sprinkle of salt included, I knew I was in. The pie has a lemon custard filling and what I believe is Cheryl’s master stroke, buttermilk whipped cream. It fires up the taste buds on several fronts – it is buttery, salty, sweet and tangy all at once.
Next up was something savory. I decided to make Bacon Cheddar Scones. This would be my first attempt at baking scones, and I was enthusiastic about trying something new. It actually could not have been easier and the results were delicious. There are 3 other scone recipes in the book, but who are we kidding? The recipe that includes bacon was a must bake, and baking one of the others would mean giving up the bacon!
Leftover bananas? Cheryl includes 4 banana recipes in the book. The recipe I chose to make was Banana Chocolate Cake. I can honestly say that this was the best banana anything I have baked. It was perfectly moist with a light and tender crumb.
On to snacks! Included in the book are quite a number of crackers and other snacking items. I made the Parmesan-Rosemary-Pecan Shortbread recipe. These are the perfect little nibble to add to a charcuterie. Along with the self-explanatory ingredients there was a pinch of cayenne, which was the perfect backdrop for the shortbread.
Most recently, I had the pleasure of making Butterscotch Pudding. As mentioned in a previous post, this family loves butterscotch. The recipe starts by making a caramel on the stove top and is finished by baking in the oven using a water bath, which was another method I had not used before. The result was a rich and decadent dessert that fires up those taste buds again. Caramel, salt, and fresh vanilla bean are all evident in the final product.
The only recipe I’ve baked so far that has not been perfect was a batch of Chocolate Chip Cookies. I’m not sure if it was the temperature of my butter, or the half an egg that flew out of the mixer right as I was adding it to the dough (I see people on TV add eggs while the mixer is on, but clearly, that is not for me), but my cookies did spread a lot. However, the end result was a flat, somewhat square shaped, yet absolutely scrumptious cookie, so it doesn’t actually qualify as a fail, does it?
The book contains over 200 recipes. There is everything from Flaky Butter Biscuits to Green Tomato Preserves. I have only scratched the surface, but I have baked enough from the book to know that this will now be a staple for me. The recipes are not overly complicated, the instructions are clear and well written, and flavor rules the day.