Category Archives: Visiting Chefs and Cookbook Authors

Hummingbird Bundt Cake

The Hummingbird Cake has been hugely popular in the South, toted to picnics and holiday parties and shared at supper clubs and family reunions. Most of the time the cake is baked in layers, slathered with a cream cheese frosting, then sprinkled with chopped pecans. But it was originally intended as a Bundt.

Back when the recipe originated it included mashed bananas, crushed pineapple, and cinnamon, and it was baked in a Bundt pan like this recipe. Because these ingredients are available any time of the year, it is the perfect cake to bake and slice for the holidays. It can be made ahead and the flavors improve after the cake rests for a couple of days. To glaze a Hummingbird Bundt cake, reserve a portion of the pineapple juice in the can and whisk together a speedy glaze with a little powdered sugar. Or just dust with powdered sugar for the simplest and most festive look of all.

Hummingbird Bundt Cake

Makes 12 to 16 servings
Prep: 20 to 25 minutes
Bake: 45 to 50 minutes
Ingredients:

Vegetable shortening or butter and flour for prepping the pan

2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, slightly beaten
8 ounces (1 cup) vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 can (8 ounces) crushed pineapple packed in juice, drained
2 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 4 medium)
Garnish:
2 teaspoons powdered sugar, sifted
Directions:
1. Place a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan. Shake out the excess flour, and set the pans aside.
2. Place the flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine well. Add the eggs, oil, and vanilla, and blend with a wooden spoon or a mixer on low speed. Increase the speed to medium and blend until well combined, 1 minute. Or stir more briskly until well combined. Fold in the pineapple and the bananas. Turn the batter into the prepared pan, and place the pan in the oven.
3. Bake until the top of the cake springs back when lightly touched, 45 to 50 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the cake, and give the cake pan a gentle shake to loosen it. Invert the cake onto the rack to cool completely, at least 30 minutes.
4. Sprinkle with the sifted powdered sugar. Slice and serve.

Cheese Grits Soufflé

Cheese grits are the perfect side dish for breakfast and brunch through the holiday season. And they’re even more delicious made with our Old Mill stone-ground grits. To make a souffle of the grits, separate the eggs, beat the whites, and then gently fold the beaten whites into the grits mixture before baking. What you get is a cheese grits side dish that rises to higher heights, sure to impress family and friends. And this elegant but easy side can transition to dinner where it pairs well with roasts, steaks, and grilled fish.

Cheese Grits Soufflé

Makes 8 servings
Prep: 15 to 20 minutes
Cook: 40 to 45 minutes
Ingredients:
1 teaspoon soft unsalted butter
4 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch cayenne pepper or nutmeg
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 large eggs, separated
Directions:
  1. Place a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Rub the butter on the bottom only of a 2-quart (8-cup) souffle or baking dish and set aside.
  3. Place the milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Pull the pan off the heat, and whisk in the grits, a little at a time, until the grits are incorporated. Place the pan back over medium heat, and let the grits come to a simmer. Stir and cook the grits until smooth and thickened, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  4. Turn off the heat, and stir in the salt, pepper, cayenne or nutmeg, cheese, and butter until smooth. Set aside.
  5. Crack the eggs, placing the yolks in a medium bowl and the whites in a large bowl. Beat the egg yolks lightly with a fork, and add a couple tablespoons of the warm grits to the yolks to bring up their temperature. Stir to combine. Repeat this process two or three times, adding a couple tablespoons grits to the yolks, and then turn the yolk mixture into the pan of grits, stirring to combine well. Set aside.
  6. Beat the egg whites on high speed with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes. Pour the grits mixture alongside the egg whites in the bowl and fold gently to combine. Turn the mixture into the prepared dish, and place the dish in the oven.
  7. Bake until the souffle rises and is golden brown on top, about 40 to 45 minutes. Serve at once.

Apple Stack Cake

Photo credit: American Cake, by Anne Byrn (Rodale, 2016)

If you were invited to a wedding in the Appalachian mountains, you might be asked to bring a cake layer. For generations, a wedding cake has been constructed from these spice cake layers and filled with a thick and fragrant apple butter made from dried apples put up from the fall harvest. The more layers to the cake – 12 to 16, perhaps – the more popular the bride, or so the story goes. Stack cakes may contain other fillings, often lemon or coconut, but the original was and still is apple. Not calling for fancy and expensive ingredients, stack cakes use what people have on hand – modest baking staples like sorghum, flour, and vegetable shortening, and you could bake the cake in a cast iron skillet. Or you can use 9-inch round cake pans. The secret to a great stack cake is to bake it a day in advance and cover it so that the apple filling slowly seeps into the cake. To save time, use apple butter, such as the Old Mill Apple Butter, instead of making the filling.

Here are links to Old Mill Products, which can be used in the recipe below from our friend Anne Byrn. Old Mill Apple Butter, Spiced Apple Seasoning, Old Mill Plain Flour, Muddy Pond Sorghum, Molasses

Makes: 12 to 16 servings
Prep: 2 hours
Bake: 14 to 16 minutes
Apple Filling:
15 to 16 ounces dried unsulphured apple rings (4 to 5 packed cups)
1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 cups water
Cake:
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup vegetable shortening
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup sorghum or molasses
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup low-fat buttermilk, at room temperature
Garnish:
Powdered sugar or sweetened whipped cream
Directions:
1. For the filling, place the apples in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg over the apples. Pour in the water, which should half-cover the apples. Bring the mixture to a boil, and once boiling, reduce the heat to low and allow to simmer, covered, for about 1 hour, or until the apples are soft and the mixture has thickened. Add a bit more water if needed. Remove the apples from the heat and let them cool. When cool, place them in thirds in a food processor and pulse until smooth but some chunks of apple remain. Or mash the apples by hand with a potato masher. You will have about 5 heaping cups of apples to spread between 6 cake layers. Set aside.
2. Meanwhile, for the cake, place a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cut six pieces of parchment paper to fit in the bottom of six 9-inch round pans. Smear a bit of vegetable shortening on the bottom of the pans to hold the parchment in place, and set the pans aside.
3. Place the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk to combine, and set the mixture aside. In another large bowl, place the shortening, sugar, and sorghum. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until the mixture is creamy and smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating just until blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour, and beating until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. The batter will be thick, more like a cookie dough. Use a strong rubber spatula, if needed, to facilitate mixing.
4. Divide the batter into 6 equal parts. Each part will be about 10 ounces. Spread the batter out into the pans, using the rubber spatula or a flexible metal spatula. Place 2 to 3 pans in the oven at a time, depending on the size of your oven. Bake until the cakes are a light golden color and spring back when lightly pressed in the center, 14 to 16 minutes. Remove the pans to a wire rack to cool 3 minutes, then run a knife around the edges and turn out the warm layers onto the rack. Immediately spread 1 heaping cup of apple filling over the top of the warm layer. Top with a second layer, spread on filling, top with a third, and so on. Repeat the process for the rest of the batter until you end with the 6th layer on top.
5. Place the cake in a cake saver or under a cake dome for 1 to 2 days before serving. Before serving, sprinkle the top of the cake with powdered sugar or pile on whipped cream.
– Used with permission from Anne Byrn author of American Cake. This recipe appears in American Cake (Rodale Books, 2016).