Welcome to my home and office where I cook, bake, and live. I am known as the “New York Times bestselling cookbook author who has inspired millions of Americans to bake cake.”
My passion has always been great tasting food made from local and seasonal ingredients, and, may I add, shared with family and friends on my porch. I love to stage impromptu dinner parties, grow heirloom flowers, revisit old recipes, and help others cook and bake better. That’s why book titles like Save the Day and What Can I Bring? appealed to me. And as a former newspaper journalist, I have always been curious – who, what, when, where, and why are embedded in my soul. This would come in handy as I researched my new book, American Cake.
I baked my first cake – devil’s food – standing on my tip-toes in my mother’s 1960s Nashville kitchen. My mother, Bebe, was an outstanding Southern cook, truly self-taught because she could not cook when she and my father were married. But through the years of raising daughters and cooking for family and friends, she could do it all and make everything look effortless. And I learned to cook by watching my mom.
As a teenager I became my family’s designated birthday cake baker. After graduating from the University of Georgia, I would write about the Lane Cake, Japanese Fruit Cake, barbecue, scuppernong jam, cornbread, souffles, local apples, and a wide range of topics as food editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for many years. On sabbatical from the paper, I baked in Paris at La Varenne Ecole de Cuisine. And I lived briefly in England.
But a decade later, in the middle of raising a busy family, I reached for a cake mix to bake last-minute cupcakes for a school bake sale. I wrote an article for our Nashville newspaper on favorite recipes to doctor up cake mix, and developed it into the New York Times bestselling book called The Cake Mix Doctor (Workman, 1999). It was a break-out hit, instructing readers to skip the box directions, following mine instead. Traveling the country on book tours with this book and others, I searched for great American regional cakes. And when home I baked those cakes in my kitchen, blogged about them, and through my website and newsletter have fielded thousands of reader questions about cake baking. In 2010, I launched a supermarket line of my own natural cake mixes, with no artificial ingredients.
American Cake is a trip back in time baking classic cakes throughout our history. These are from-scratch cakes, and they range from easy one-bowl brownies to the more complicated Lady Baltimore and other showy cakes. When American Cake launches this fall I will be on the road, teaching classes and signing copies at book festivals. But when I am home in Nashville, I garden, cook, and enjoy the company of my family, friends, and dogs. There is often a cake in the oven, a chicken in the smoker, and if it is summertime, fresh squash or green beans simmering on the stove.