Several desserts from the recent reprint of Southern Living Classics Southern Desserts caught my eye after a publicist contacted me inquiring whether I wanted a copy for review. Naturally, I said yes, please, and thank you very much.
The book is sticky-noted to death. There were many recipes I wanted to try. And as I wended my way through them I wondered, what makes a dessert southern? Okay, so obviously, there are certain desserts associated with the South, like Key Lime Pie, Hummingbird Cake, Pecan Pie, Red Velvet Cake, Sweet Potato Pie, what else? I feel as though I'm missing something. Oh, for me, that would be Bread Pudding. It's one of those essential coastal recipes every Carolina, Georgia, and Florida eatery.
So mostly it comes down to ingredients and availability. Like, peach pie in Georgia, Key limes in Florida, pecans in South Carolina, and whatnot. I guess? Anyone have any other clues? It's not as if I deeply researched it. I could, but I'm not going to. Not for this blog post.
Anyway, this edition has every recipe you possibly could need in a southern dessert repertoire. It has pies, cakes, cookies, cobblers, and puddings, too. Including bread puddings, rice puddings, and banana puddings. And THAT's a real southern standard for Sunday dinners and church socials and any other event you can think of.
Baked this and tried it out on my fellow workers at our local election the first week of August. Poor dears. They were sweet to try it. The first bite I took I was disappointed, and the further we cut into it I realized what happened: I undercooked it. My dial was set too low: I cooked it at 325 instead of 375 and the cream cheese didn't melt like it should have and the cake batter was all soggy in the center. No matter, I'm a batter girl anyway, so I ate the soggy center right up and let others eat the cooked edge-pieces. So come November, I'll have something else delicious to bring, another dessert, no doubt. And perhaps an appetizer as well. Ian made cowboy beans in the crock pot, and they were popular, as usual.
I cooked it a second time, at the correct heat, and it came out much better, but the cream cheese still didn't melt or blend as much as I'd like for it to. So, while I like this recipe, I think if I continue to make it, I'll tweak it more and more by blending the cream cheese in with the batter more. The instructions say to stir/fold them and the blueberries into the batter as the last step before pouring it into the pan. Delicious though, and substituting another fruit with this, or a preserve, would be simple, indeed.
Then, the next item to try was the Lemon tea bread. I've been made about lemons lately. Love their taste. They're simple and elegant. Nothing seems more pleasing to the palate than a lemon. Naturally I gravitated to a lemon bread. It's base was the coffee cake...a deja vu moment. Cream sugar and butter together, alternate adding flour and milk. It seems that is all I do these days.
The bread was a bland pound cake and the icing was powdered sugar and lemon juice. Then you have lemon zest mixed with granulated sugar to sprinkle atop that. Those two toppings add the sweetness and lemony flavor to the bread, although there is some lemon zest added to the batter. Sadly, this tea bread disappointed. When I make it again, I'll add more to the batter, perhaps an extract or two to give it more oomph.
And the crowning achievement thus far was the Luscious lemon cake. Which was such fun to make. EIGHT egg yolks in this super rich batter. And its icing is so dreamy. The trouble with this cake is that it called for three eight inch in diameter cake pans. I only had two. So we dropped by Target. They only had nine inch pans.
Then we tried Kroger, because they usually have the basic kitchen utensils, right? Wrong. So I ended up buying two sets of two nine inch cake pans from Kroger so I'd have at least one set of three cake pans in the same diameter. I didn't want to drive all over tarnation for cake pans. I wanted get it on with this three-layer luscious lemon cake.
You'd think it would be perfectly yummy and rich. Undoubtedly, it would be, except I had a brain lapse. I forgot to cover my tins after I removed them from the oven. I wasn't planning to ice the cake after each layer cooled an hour; I wanted to construct and ice the cake the next morning. So the air ruined them overnight and instead of rich yummy cake, it was dry cake. After all that driving and wasting of gas. Dry Cake. No matter, I have a husband who eats most anything I eat, dry cake and all. He liked it. Does anything else matter? I'll make this recipe again.
I blog about my kitchen failures because being real in the kitchen means not candy-coating it and letting a pretty pictures make everything seem idyllic when in fact, the cake don't taste as good as it looks. My integrity is one of the few things I can control in my life. While I'm not perfect and make stupid mistakes, learning from them and trying not to repeat them is important to me. I'm still learning in the kitchen at 41. And I hope that next time, I'll be smarter and not leave my cakes out uncovered for them to go all dry and dusty in the night.
But then I made two pies. There were more than two that I liked, but there were two I had to make right away: Banana Pudding Pie and Pineapple Pie. The problem, and yes, there is always a problem, is that I didn't have five straight hours in which to construct the crusts, fillings, and meringues. That's one of the reasons I avoid meringues: Too much fuss, too much time, and I really don't love eating them anyway; it's just frou-frou. I usally scrape 'em off. Empty calories, right?
So I made the crusts, baked them, then put them in the fridge and let them sit a day until I had time to make the puddings. Then made the puddings and let that sit in the fridge until I had a day to make the meringues and bake it all proper-like in the oven. It all tasted great, but it didn't set up like it should and the result was a great soggy mess.
Another lesson learned. Gee, I wish I had time to make these kinds of pies from scratch.
So. You want a copy of this totally awesome southern desserts book? I know you do. Here's what to do.
Follow me on twitter @re3ecca and tweet "i want to win southern living classics southern desserts @re3ecca #giveaways #cookbooks". A randomly selected winner will be notified by e-mail. Odds of winning depend upon the number of entries received.
And if you don't have a twitter account, just leave a comment to that effect below and tell me your favorite southern dessert. A randomly selected winner will be notified by e-mail. Odds of winning depend upon the number of entries received.
The winner will be randomly selected from entries after 7 September 2012 12 noon EST and will be notified after that time.
I received a review copy of the cookbook from a publicist, just to let you know, so I'm in accordance with the new FTC regulations, but otherwise, I received no other form of compensation. And, they will provide and mail a copy of the cookbook for the winner of the giveaway.