Back in May, when we drove to Florida, I so wanted to stop in Savannah so I might visit Back in the Day Bakery and sample their signature baked goods. That was not to be. On our trip south, we missed them because we drove through Georgia to late, after they closed and on driving north the bakery was closed that day. So, another time, for sure, we'll stop in Savannah.
I received gallies for the Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook : Cakes, Pies, Cookies, Bars, and Breads from the Best Little Bakery in the South sometime ago, but haven't had a chance to cook from it until last week. I have a serious backlog of recipes that I want to make, and not enough egg money on hand to make them all.
Almost every time Elsa and I visit Earth Fare she grabs one of the mini shopping carts because she enjoys grocery shopping, picking out produce, and navigating the aisles. It's mostly a harrowing experience for me. I correct her "Mind the endcaps!" "Don't bump that person!" "Slow down!" and all sorts of other cautions escape my mouth. She asks for bananas and apples and strawberries, and carrots and all sorts of veggies, even if she doesn't eat them herself, she knows I like them. Invariably we have bananas on hand. We bring them home, and then she won't necessarily eat them. So I'm always seeking recipes using bananas and had flagged the Brown Sugar Banana Bread recipe early on.
My banana bread baking experiences have been spotty in the past. Thus I approach banana bread recipes with trepidation. I perked up when I read the ingredients list and saw mace and sour cream listed. Mace is unusual. I have it on hand, for the rare recipe that calls for it. And, if you don't know what it is, it's the bright red lacey outer covering of nutmeg. But it appears orangish when its dried and in a glass container. Naturally, the sour cream keeps the bread super moist. And another peculiar thing, was that the recipe called for toasted pecans. Most banana bread recipes I've made in the past have you throw them in untoasted.
Undoubtedly, the addition of mace, sourcream, and toasted pecans combined to make this banana bread the Most Fantastic banana bread recipe I've come across yet. I'm not a banan a bread fan at all. I make it and I might taste a bite. Then I expect others in my house to eat the rest, or foist it off on folks at work or I take it to my Dad who gets little homecooking anymore since my step-mother returned to the workplace several years ago. But I ate slice after slice of this banana bread. And my dogs ate it too. Of course, they'll eat almost anything.
Late in life I've come to appreciate sweet potatoes. They never appealed to me earlier I think because of how they were presented. My aunt made a candied sweet potato dish at Thanksgiving which was topped with marshmallows. Tempting as the marshmallows were, I was repelled by what was underneath: oily orange muck. It didn't appear appetizing at all.
Suddenly, I've made sweet potato pie, and I love it. Same thing happened with pecan pie and me, also. Must be a personal food pattern. Or, it's just this fantastic recipe. I think it's mace. Must be the mace effect. Gotta love a cook who uses mace liberally in her recipes. And that's what I really appreciate about Cheryl Day, her mace in your face attitude toward cooking.
Bring on the mace! What's in this pie, you ask? sweet potatoes, heavy cream, eggs, molasses (or sorghum---I didn't have sorghum on hand, but I really want some Muddy Pond Sorghum, I may have to make a special trip up there because no store nearby sells it.), light brown sugar, cardamon (my favorite, btw!), cloves, mace, ginger, and sea salt.
Time for a confession: I almost constructed this pie with an out-of-date Pillsbury piecrust. I didn't want to go to all the trouble of making a crust from scratch. It would take too much time. Yeah for readymade! The box had been sitting in my fridge for sometime. I won't tell you how long. I glanced at the use by date, and thought I'd try it anyway. Once out of the plastic packaging though I couldn't peel the dough apart, it was mushy. Ugh.
I almost gave up on making this Sweet Potato Pie! Then I looked more carefully at the list of ingredients and saw that Shortcut Piecrust was listed. So amazing. Flour, butter, and sugar (white or brown sugar). This will be my go-to pie crust. Ian asked about the piecrust, even. He LOVED it. Super easy and a time-saver. No rolling, you don't have to be easy with it or anything. Just pat it into the pie dish.
The only thing I didn't do was make the Fresh Whipped Cream topping. Didn't have enough heavy whipped cream for the recipe. Surely, it would have been a heavenly addition. But the pie was thick and luscious and rich alone. Yeah, so it was a bit stringy, but that's because of the sweet potatoes fiberousness. Ian thought it was quite similar to pumpkin pie, so it's possible that you could pass this off as a pumpkin pie to your family and friends.
With these three recipes to go on I conclude that the rest of the book is sure to please me, and anyone else with with a range of traditional Southern baked good like Blueberry Buckle, Pecan Sandras, and more. Nouveau baked goods such as Buttermilk Biscones, Guava-Sweet Cheese Turnovers, Creole Brownies, and a slew of savories including yummy Vegetable Potpie and a Pancetta-Fontina Bread Pudding dreamed up by Griffith Day.
The photography (125 color photos as indicated by the gallies) and styling looks amazing, from what I can see of the black and white galley images and so I cannot fully comment on the effect of the published book. I love food photographers and food stylists and follow their work. Reviewing their work and what it brings to each cookbook is as much a part of my review as the recipe. Many cookbook readers browse the pages and have visceral reactions to the photography and styling. Sometimes the right photograph compels a reader to her kitchen to replicate a recipe by her own hands. Obviously, that passion and emotion was lacking in my experience with the gallies. Squire Fox shot the photos for Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook.