Today I will be reviewing the classic Southern Heritage Cakes Cookbook! (Southern Heritage, Oxmoor House, 1983)
Jenne gave me this book a few months back, which, as you can see from the picture, she purchased at Mr. K’s Used Books for four dollars. Mr. K’s, which is located at River Ridge on Fairview Road, is apparently awesome- though I have never been there.
I fell in love with the book immediately. Not only are the recipes dead-on, but the pictures and clip art are rich with cake love and lore. There is historical context given for many of the recipes, and many of the recipes are illustrated with step-by-step photos.
Like much of our history as Southerners, there is some painful stuff, too, like the recurrent images of Black Mammies that were so prevalent in literature about the South for the last century. Complicating the story further is this historical tale of the Sam Houston Cake, whose namesake was adopted by the Cherokee nation, then became a soldier and slaveowner, and then the governer of Texas.
I particularly like the entries on cooked icings, as there are no mainstream cookbooks (even my beloved Joy of Cooking) that correctly treat the steps for popular Southern cooked icings (such as Cooked Caramel Icing, Seven Minute Icing- called Divinity in other parts of the country- and custard-based cooked icings such as German Chocolate Cake Icing).
All in all, the Southern Heritage Cakes Cookbook is a gem- which is probably why I see it on the shelves of many of my crafty, culinary colleagues (I’m talking to you, Ashley Adams English!)
This book is easy to procure used and will serve you well.
And now: for the bibliomancy- a form of mystical divination where I flip through the pages of the featured cookbook with my eyes closed and randomly choose a recipe or passage. (this one’s for you, Egg!)
“‘Early rising is also essential to the good government of a family. A late breakfast deranges the whole business of the day, and throws a portion of it on the next, which opens the door for confusion to enter.’ In spite of what Mary Randolph admonished in 1831, these coffee cakes are delicious for a late breakfast- and are guaranteed not to ruin your day.”
And there you have it.