Welcome to The Pioneer Woman Cookbook Club! This month we present Vallery Lomas, baker, lawyer, winner of The Great American Baking Showand cookbook author of Life is what you bake it† Read on to learn her favorite baking tips, how she made the leap to switch careers, and grab a delicious cake recipe just in time for potluck season.
Vallery Lomas’ mother knew one thing for sure: Family recipes are lost if the person she knows passes before teaching someone else. Like any good mother, she recognized Vallery’s early passion for baking and wisely insisted that she visit her grandmother Willie Mae to learn how to make her famous Million Dollar Cake – a moist, multi-layered cake with a fruity filling and fluffy cream cheese frosting. . The dessert was very simple, “on the money.”
That’s how this whole baking business started, in a small rural town about fifteen miles east of Baton Rouge. The Collection of Southern Comfort Food Recipes in Vallery’s Book Life is what you bake it are inspired by her journey from her native Louisiana, to a practicing attorney in New York, to her beloved food blog, Foodie in New Yorkand eventually follow her passion The Great American Baking Show (which she won!).
“With this cake, I got a hands-on interactive lesson with my grandmother guiding every step of the way,” says Vallery. “I wrote it down in the recipe book my mom bought me when I was seven.” The handwritten note inside the cover reads, “To Vallery, Love Mom, 1992.” In many ways, that was her first attempt at writing a cookbook.
One of Vallery’s best baking tips is “practice bakes perfectly”. She embraces mistakes in the kitchen as learning experiences. “I want people to be excited about baking,” she says. Baking has been a haven for me. A happy place.’ You also don’t have to run out and quit your job to pursue your passion: “You can do your passion on the weekend or in the evening. It’s about taking the small steps.”
Many of the dishes in Vallery’s book are family recipes that have been tweaked and tweaked over the years to become the uncomplicated perfection her longtime fans have come to rely on. The book shows what ingredients Vallery grew up experimenting with: crawfish (or shrimp if she’s not in the south), pecans (which grew in abundance on the way home), and the fresh fruit her grandmother grew on her land. “All of my first encounters with these ingredients, they were just at their peak. So in the end it’s really about getting things at their best and ripest.”
If you want to know the real secret to her “million dollar” cake recipe, Vallery has you covered: it’s all about simplicity. She calls her grandmother’s recipe a “1-2-3-4 cake”: 1 cup of butter, 2 cups of sugar, 3 cups of flour, and 4 eggs. While developing the instructions for outsiders, Vallery added her own ABCs: Aromatics (1 teaspoon each of vanilla and almond extract), baking soda (1 tablespoon), and “cow juice” (1 cup milk). If you stick to the 1-2-3-4 ABCs, you won’t even need a recipe to make it! Best of all, like many of Vallery’s recipes, this cake lends itself to easy substitutions. No canned pineapple? Her grandmother sometimes filled the cake with apple jelly, making it a great fall dessert too.
Whether you’re looking for a simple cake for a summer cookout or a stress-free dessert for your next dinner party, you can’t go wrong with Granny’s Million Dollar Cake. You can also check out the book for her other cookies, biscuits, and pie recipes. Whatever you choose, half the fun is reading every delightful homegrown story.
Reprinted from Life Is What You Bake It. Copyright © 2021 by Vallery Lomas. Copyright photos © 2021 by Linda Xiao. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Random House.
This content is created and maintained by a third party and imported to this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may find more information about this and similar content at piano.io