Last Minute Gift Ideas for the Foodie in Your Life


The Christmas holidays are a special time for giving, but the best gifts don’t always come from a department store. Give the gift of food! Today, I’ve rounded up three gift ideas from my kitchen that can be prettily packaged + a spectacular book recommendation authored by my friend, meditation and wellness teacher, Cassandra Bodzack. These thoughtful presents are Some Kinda Good, and are sure to be well received. Continue reading “Last Minute Gift Ideas for the Foodie in Your Life”

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A Saturday-Morning Tradition

Back in the Day Bakery
Savannah, Georgia

At the intersection of West 40th and Bull Streets under one lone palm tree in the Starland District of Savannah, Georgia sits Back in the Day Bakery, so fondly known as The Best Little Bakery in the South. I had wanted to visit for weeks, ever since I’d seen Cheryl Day, co-owner, cooking with Paula Deen on Food Network. It was everything I’d hoped it would be and more.

I was in love from the moment I entered. Love at first sight. It was like sensory overload. The smell of fresh bread. The cottage, rustic, modern style. The retro appliances. The vintage dishes. The coastal color palette. The inviting seating area above immediately caught my eye–I couldn’t get over the live baby’s breath anchored in tin pails and the over-sized chairs. This was a place I could come daily, I thought.

Rosemary Ciabatta bread and Pugliese loaves (a crusty italian bread), along with Sunny Lemon Bars and Bourbon Bread Pudding fill the window as you approach the cashier to place your order.

Then I saw it. Cinnamon Sticky Buns. It just so happened that I had visited Back in the Day bakery on a special day–Saturday morning, the only time of the week Griff Day, co-owner, bakes these unbelievably freakin’ good send-you-to-church delicacies. Made with local honey from the Savannah Bee Company, the buns have a sweet-spicy filling, a caramel glaze and a tangy, oh-my-sweet-heavenly-Lord, cream cheese frosting. The taste was enough to make this Southern Baptist begin speaking in tongues.

I enjoyed my Cinnamon Sticky Bun with a cup of the Bakery’s best-selling organic breakfast tea for $1.75.

The floor and counter tops are cement…just another little detail that adds to the nostalgia.

Simple syrup, a combination of equal parts water and sugar, is available to sweeten your tea or coffee. I like using simple syrup because it allows you to be in control of your sugar intake…of pristine importance when you’re downing Cinnamon Sticky Buns. 😉 You’ll also find utensils for the taking in classic Mason Jars.

Back in the Day Bakery doesn’t just sell baked goods, lunch is also served daily from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. Above, the Rosemary Chicken sandwich is made with chicken, red onion, celery, black currants and herb spiced mayo.

Who wouldn’t want to sit underneath this?

 The Days have really succeeded in creating a true experience. The food draws you in and the atmosphere makes you want to stay.

The Bakery opened in 2002. Their best seller? An Old-Fashioned Vanilla Cupcake with Vanilla Buttercream. The cupcakes above were fresh from the oven.

Even the staff members are colorful. Decked out in aprons with handkerchiefs on their heads, they offer friendly service with a smile.

My trip wouldn’t have been complete without purchasing The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook. Buy it from the Bakery and you’ll get an autographed copy! If the recipes contained in this book taste anything like the Saturday-morning tradition Cinnamon Sticky Buns, it’ll be the best $24.95 I’ve ever spent.

Back In The Day Bakery on Urbanspoon

Summertime Watermelon Cake

Watermelon is an iconic symbol of summertime. When I learned it could be incorporated into a cake, I was super excited to get in the kitchen and bake it. Pretty in pink and sweet as can be, this cake is bursting with watermelon flavor, light and airy, and comes together quickly.

It all starts from a boxed white cake mix. Gather your ingredients and go to town! The recipe calls for a mixed-fruit-flavored gelatin, so I used strawberry-banana. I’m convinced it was the secret ingredient that really boosted the cake’s flavor.

Dump your cake mix in the bowl of an electric mixer, top with 1 tablespoon of flour, the gelatin packet and 1 cup of chopped fresh watermelon. I love the contrasting colors in this bowl!

The watermelon turns the batter a beautiful, natural pink.

You’re never too old to lick the beaters! 😉

Divide the batter evenly among two 8-inch round cake pans and bake for 30 minutes at 325 degrees. I like to drop my pans on the counter top before popping them in the oven to get rid of any air bubbles.

Meanwhile, whip up the frosting. It’s very sweet and achieving the right consistency can be tricky. Here’s what’s in it: 1 16 oz. box of confectioners sugar, 1 stick of margarine and 1/2 – 1 cup of chopped watermelon.  Red food coloring is optional and I chose to add it because without it, the frosting appeared to be the color of peach. A few drops will turn it pink, the same color as the batter. Remember–too runny? Add more powdered sugar. Too thick? Add more watermelon.

Once the cakes have cooled completely, they are ready to frost. Note: I used Crisco to grease my pans and also dusted them with flour…they released the best I’ve ever seen any cake let go from a pan. THAT’S a beautiful thing.

Frosting the cake is a messy job. Use wax paper under your cake to avoid having so much to clean up.

My favorite part is always decorating it! Fresh mint and tiny watermelon wedges did the trick.

Ta-da! So fun, so festive.

In the video below, watch as I cut the cake and share some ideas on places to take it! If you do bake the cake for a gender reveal party, obviously, you’ll want to change the color of the frosting.

Special thanks to my friend, Tori, for help with photography and video for this blog post, and contributing to the recipe (girl’s night was a blast!). 🙂

Also, a shout out to Jessica for posting this cake on Facebook and inspiring me to make it. This recipe originally appeared in The Blue Willow Inn: Bible of Southern Cooking:

Cake:

  • 1 Tbs.  All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 18.25 oz. Box White Cake Mix ( I used the Duncan Hines brand)
  • 1 3 oz. Package of Mixed-Fruit-Flavored Gelatin
  • 3/4 Cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1 Cup Chopped Watermelon
  • 4 Eggs

Frosting:

  • 1/2 Cup (1 stick) of Margarine, Softened
  • 1 16 oz. Box Confectioners’ Sugar
  • 1/2 to 1 Cup Watermelon
  • Red Food Coloring (Optional)

Have fun!