Even after a big holiday meal, you’d be hard-pressed to find a Southerner who would turn down a slice of pecan pie or red velvet cake for dessert. So many memories are made around Southern food, and during the holidays, when there is nothing more cherished than feeling at home, family recipes find an extra special place in our kitchens and on our tables. We asked some of our sweet (pun intended!) baker friends to share the stories behind the desserts they come back to year after year, no matter how many cakes, pies, and treats they’ve perfected along the way.
Ashley of Ashley Cakes, Raleigh, NC
My absolute favorite thing to bake during the holiday season is my Grandma Mitchell’s homemade carrot cake. For as long as I can remember, she has been baking this yumminess for every Thanksgiving and Christmas family get-together. Since I’m a cake baker, she shared her recipe with me (of course!), and it is one that I will cherish forever! It was fun converting some of her recipe to actual measurements, because, like all great Southern cooks, hers contained instructions like “two shakes” of this and “three pinches” of that! I can’t say that mine will ever be as delicious as hers, but I love carrying on the tradition. With every bite, it takes me back to being a little girl at Grandma’s kitchen table.
Natalie of Chic Sweets, Tampa, FL
These desserts come straight from my home, heart, and family. I have a rather large family, and one of our traditions is cooking up our favorite recipes all day and then getting dressed up to sit down and enjoy our special dishes. It may seem a bit silly that we all get dressed up, but with a house full of boys, I love getting dolled up to sit at the table with family and friends! When we wrap up dinner and our bellies are full, I get to share two of my favorite desserts with my family. I don’t ever like to go too heavy with desserts, especially after a big meal, and my heart-shaped strawberry Nutella mini-pies and white chocolate hot cocoa always hit the spot!
Jocelyn of Grandbaby Cakes
This “Real Deal Caramel Cake” is my essential for all holidays because it has such a rich history in my family. The caramel was passed down from my Aunt Beverly, and has been the centerpiece of our holiday baking tradition for years. There is nothing more delicious, and nothing more beautiful, than baking this cake in the kitchen with my family.
Anna of One Belle Bakery, Wilmington, NC
One of my favorite things to bake this time of year is a to-die-for peppermint red velvet cake. Is there a more Southern cake than red velvet? It’s possible, but not according to my sweet Southern granny. In her house, the most delicious deviled eggs you’ve ever tasted always meant spring was here, fresh watermelon slices arranged just so on a polished silver platter meant summer was here, and this cake meant the the holidays were here! I can still smell the peppermint that filled her house when she would make this cake. It’s one of those recipes that will always be special to me and bring back the best memories of time spent with my family. Like most Southern families, food surely brought us together.
What dessert do you bake for the holidays every year? We’d love to hear your stories, too!