We can’t get enough of southern food and cooking. There is a special for baking for every Black Southern Belle. If you are looking to brush up on your skills then I implore you to check out Black Girl Baking by Jerrelle Guy, founder of the popular food blog Chocolate for Basil, is a food scholar, award-winning food photographer, recipe contributor and Tastemade Tastemaker. She has been featured in Vogue, The Boston Globe, Food52 and more. Jerrelle currently resides in Boston, Massachusetts. She givesyou the true essentials for Southern Baking and we are honored to showcase this book. In Black Girl Baking, author Jerrelle Guy uses recipes as her storytelling medium, with special use of the five senses to retell and reinvent food memories using wholesome ingredients (whole flours, less refined sugar and vegan alternatives abound). The inspiration behind each recipe, beautifully described by Jerrelle in each headnote, reads like a wonderful short story, whether it’s how Orange Peel Pound Cake brings back memories of summer days eating Florida oranges at Big Ma’s house or that the Plaited Dukkah Bread parallels the braids worked into her hair as a child. If you want some inspiration for your baking toolset, check out Jerrelle’s 5 Kitchen Essentials for Southern Baking.
5 Kitchen Essentials for Southern Baking
Bundt Cake Pan– You find that many southern recipes call for bundt cake pans. The heavy iron holds enough heat to give high-fat cakes, like pound cakes, a nice crunchy exterior, and the center hole helps the cake cook quickly and evenly all the way through. Because their design is also fluted and curvaceous, they don’t need icing, unlike regular cakes, to look presentable, which was really helpful in antebellum and post antebellum times when southern family’s would throw big dinner parties, invite many guests over, and the use the presentation of their food to express their social status. Butter-laden pound cakes, monkey breads, and coffee cakes love these pans.
Fresh Fruit— Southern desserts and baked recipes shine when fresh fruit is added. The natural acidity found in strawberries, ripe peaches, berries, and tomatoes helps balance out the richness of the fats, like butter and shortenings, while also lightening the heaviness of the flour. They’re also readily available down south since the climate is better suited for growing. Don’t forget bananas in this fruit lineup too though.
Brown Sugar—Because Southern cuisine was founded on its resourceful approach to gathering ingredients, and because brown sugar was more accessible in the past (it was considered less valuable than white sugar because it was less refined and contained traces of molasses), it’s a common ingredient present throughout many southern recipes. When it’s heated, it caramelizes better than white sugar, which makes it a go-to when making sauces and glazes. It also offers a stronger, creamier flavor than regular sugar too. Add in a pinch of cinnamon, and you’re brought right back home.
Toasted Nuts—Because pecans are the one nut native to North America, they are seen frequently throughout classic southern desserts, although that doesn’t make other nuts off limits to us. Pecans, walnuts, almonds, macadamia nuts, all of them stud everything from cakes to brownies to churned ice cream. Toasting them before hand just makes their flavor more pronounced.
Spirits and Liqueurs– While southern baking is no stranger to seeing liqueurs spike its recipes—Kahlua Brownies, Bailey’s Whipped Cream, Southern Comfort Cup Cakes, etc.— bourbon and rum are even more prevalent. Rum is naturally sweet because it’s distilled from sugarcane and molasses, whereas bourbon is much heavier and nuttier because it’s distilled primarily from corn. Bourbon-spiked desserts, give off a wonderful heat—another favorite southern flavor—and an earthiness that pairs nicely with sweets. Beer is a popular addition too.
Need more inspiration? Check out these images from Black Girls Baking and make sure to check out some images from the book below and get your copy ASAP!