Nothing warms the heart more than delicious food accompanied by great stories. Linda Hinton-Brown and Norrinda Brown-Hayat manage to capture these crucial elements in “The Brown Betty Cookbook.” They own what they call Philadelphia’s best bakery, so the cooks compile their recipes passed down from generation to generation to share with the world.
The book’s content consists of cakes, fillings, and frostings; pies, cobblers, and puddings; cookies, brownies, and bars—making it difficult to choose a treat to create. They make and sell modern, vintage desserts ranging from Coconut Cake (p. 67) with Company’s Comin’ Cream Cheese Frosting (p. 71) to White Chocolate Macadamia Cookies (p. 174). Bakers usually have most of the ingredients these ladies use in their cupboards or refrigerators.
The mother-and-daughter duo tells stories about growing up around women who cooked and carried on their tradition by opening their businesses. They mix historical photographs of friends and families with colorful food shots throughout the pages. The list of ingredients is encased in text boxes on the right side of the instructions which makes it easier to view. Also, it includes active and food time. The font size/color might make it difficult for readers to navigate.
My test kitchen decided to make Betty’s Buttermilk Pound Cake (p. 31), also known as lemon cake with lemon buttercream. I followed the instructions as directed, except I baked the cake in a Bundt pan and omitted the frosting. The scent of warm vanilla triggered memories of visiting my friend’s house in New Orleans for the holidays. The dessert baked into a delectable shade of golden brown. Once cooled, iI sliced easily with a knife and crumbled effortlessly like a moist and light substance should. It felt soft yet dense. The buttery taste of pound cake was obvious from the first bite and the sweetness satisfied the sugar craving. None of my dinner guests picked up on the lemon flavor, so the recipe’s subtitle might be misleading. However, the lack of the lemon buttercream did not ruin the overall experience.
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