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Southern Desserts

A heaping helping of blackberry Cobbler with heavy cream poured over it spells Southern cooking in the Kentucky. Of course this isn’t the Deep South but it’s close enough to be called a neighbor now and then by Tennessee and Virginia and once in a while by those in North or South Carolina.

For this particular type of dessert no recipe is necessary because hill folk have been enjoying this delicacy for so many years their know how is all that is needed. They would pick and wash them and then dump what’s left after the kids had snuck in eaten most of them raw, into a well greased iron skillet. Over them they poured their cake mixture which was nothing more than a cup of sugar, couple tablespoons of butter, cup of self-rising flour, a cup of flour and enough milk to make a thick batter. Then bake in a 350 oven for about 25 minutes or until done. It was best eaten while still warm.

Now days what passes for southern cooking is a mixture of the old and the new. But a few things have changed little. Southern cooks take their desserts seriously and most only use recipes for reference. To these they add and take away and borrow from this one and that one and carry on in their kitchen as if it’s a neighborhood sandbox.

While searching online one can find all kinds of recipes and variations on old cooking methods that are still done with a fling. Simply because southern cooks still take their food seriously does not mean they like to slave away over hot stoves any more than the rest of the country. Shortcuts and microwaves, and prepared mixes and store bought items-once resorted to only in emergencies-are now an every day routines.

One sassy-named dessert that’ll whet appetites for more good old southern finds is Kentucky Jam Cake. It will make old timers think back to what a real Jam Cake might have been to a bare-foot girl or boy sixty or seventy years ago. It would have been two pieces of buttered hot-out-of-the oven corn bread jammed together. It would have been lip-smacking good. And still is, although hard to find.

The real Jam Cake is just that, a three layered cake with jam in the batter and heavily spiced and contains nuts and raisons and is iced with either a creamed cheese or a caramel icing. A Kentucky version would be a stack cake with four or five layers and with apple butter or cooked dried apples in-between each layer and on top. It was a popular and an affordable treat since everyone canned or dried their apples in the fall for winter usage.

Now days, only the naming of desserts give hints of the once resourceful innovativeness of southern cooks. Another online find the Poor Man’s Cake was, probably, a hand-me-down recipe from times past. Instead of milk, water is used in the batter. Its discovery could have gone something like this: A poor woman had flower and sugar and company and her husband insisted on something sweet after dinner. The cow had gone dry and left them poor indeed.

A more recent invention is the Apple Spice Dump Cake. It is what it says it is. You dump a can of apple pie filling into a greased 9×13 inch pan, sprinkle the dry spice cake mix over it, pour one cup of melted butter and cup of chopped pecans, and bake in a 350 oven for 30-40 minutes. (With a whole cup of butter, Cholesterol Clogger Cake might be more truthful.)

In the South their special way of eating is taken seriously. The Southern Foodways Alliance is the proof of their puddings. On this site one can find the origins of food and food inventions.