This post is a little bit of an addendum, a retraction if you will. Way back in January I posted a book review of two cookbooks that I splurged on as birthday gifts to myself, Jamie Oliver’s Comfort Food by, well, Jamie Oliver, and The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook by Cheryl Day and Griffith Day. I gushed about Oliver’s cookbook—and still do to this day…it is peerless in my opinion—and kind of ripped apart the Days’ baking cookbook. I have since learned that my dissection of its face-value faults was immature at best, misinformed at worst—two things I have personally resolved never to be in my judgment of a book. To spare myself the embarrassment, I will not link to that post here.
Alas, 8 months have passed since my premature review of the Days’ cookbook, and I can say that I have since made many of the recipes in the Back in the Day Bakery cookbook and have been satisfied every time. The recipes have exceeded my hopes and taken my baking to another level, matching my enthusiasm for good old fashioned bakery-diner style baking with comforting and heartfelt food, the kind that I never regret every extra-to-the-point-of-excessive tablespoon of butter or cup (or more) of sugar. If it’s gone to my hips, it’s gone their happily and made me proud that my plus size figure exists because I bake with my heart and soul, exactly the kind of baking that the Days champion and communicate in their cookbook. I am no stranger to late night and early morning (like 4 am early morning) baking binges, and this is my go-to book. I love being able to fill the house with the scent of cinnamon and brown sugar, letting my family wake up to this tantalizing aroma and wondering what I’ve done now (and if I’m honest, is it a good thing she hasn’t slept?).
Okay, let me go through some of my favorite recipes.
Bourbon Pecan Pie (p. 106-7)
Here’s something to understand: I can’t drink alcohol because of my meds. The taste of alcohol I get is from baking and cooking, and boy do I love it. I bought a huge bottle of Wild Turkey last fall and I am nearly through it. This recipe is great, totally delicious. Make it a day ahead of time. Use more bourbon than they call for (you’ll see this pattern again and again with me…more bourbon, more better). I would not recommend using chocolate chips. It really doesn’t need it, and the ones I used did not really melt. Instead they stayed whole, making for a weird crunchy object in what should have been a harmonious pie filling. Every Thanksgiving I am in charge of pies and I make my signature ones: ginger cardamom pumpkin pie and maple bourbon pecan pie. This year I’ll adapt the pecan pie using this recipe. Is it November yet?
Cinnamon-Sour Cream Coffee Cake (p. 48-50)
This recipe is worth the cookbook alone. One of these days I will post my recipe on here which is a Mocha Chai Sour Cream Coffee Cake. For that recipe, now my signature baked good, I used the Days’ coffee cake recipe here as a base. It’s divine. Things I’d recommend: adding 1/2 cup of freshly brewed coffee (it makes cakes more moist) with the eggs and vanilla, add 1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves to the dry ingredients, and add 1 1/2 tablespoons of cinnamon to the dry ingredients. Also, double the brown sugar for the crumb filling. Once you have it in the pan (use a bundt, not a tube pan), use a spatula to swirly the crumb toping down into the batter.
Drunk Blondies (p. 196)
Yes, another bourbon-based baked good! And with this recipe I say, double the bourbon at least! I used about 1/4 cup (it calls for 2 tablespoons) and I could have used more. You could barely taste it in the final product. This was a late-night baking adventure. Two days later and those babies are basically gone. They are rich and dense and delicious. Another tip: use 1/2 cup of chopped pecans instead of the 1/4 cup called for in the recipe. One more tip: this is a little trick of mine—use different kinds of chocolate for the chocolate chips; I used a combination of milk chocolate and bittersweet chocolate. It was super good. Also, since it’s summer, leaving these out at room temperature kept the chocolate at a gooey, slightly warm and melted temperature. Oh and I used an 8 x 8 (or maybe it was 9 x 9?) pan and baked it for about 35-40 mins. You want a slightly crispy top, one that you can lightly pack a spoon down and it either cracks just a little bit or doesn’t crack at all.
I can’t really express how much I love this cookbook except to say it makes me and the people who eat the food feel happy, nourished, and loved. Buy it and make new memories. Buy it and share the love.