by Melissa Corbin
I’m forever in search of cultural roots and the people that make their culture so unique. As a Southerner, I can vouch we have our fair share of roots. When Adventure Girl, Stef Michaels, asked me to head up her culinary column by starting with a celebration for National Cake Day, top of mind was when Dolly Parton’s character, Truvy Jones, shared her infamous Cuppa-Cuppa-Cuppa Cake recipe in the 1989 classic, Steel Magnolias.
Many a Southerner can quote this classic. Make no mistake, it’s topping the list of the next Adventure Girl movie marathon on my next West Coast visit.
Just under the paparazzi’s radar, pastry chefs satisfy celebrity sweet tooth every day. Here’s a few Southern stories that would do Dolly proud.
Celebrities hung their hats in Nashville, even when “country wasn’t cool.” There are many reasons why, but one of the most overwhelming is that they’re treated as locals by locals. “It’s just the Nashville way,” says Dulce Desserts Pastry Chef/Owner, Juanita Lane. Taylor Swift once tweeted out her unmistakable Dulce 21st birthday cake. Yet, Lane kept buttoned tight until proper publicity clearance had been given. I don’t know about you, but I would’ve busted my buttons if I were in Lane’s shoes.
Roy Orbison’s hand-painted Gibson served as inspiration for the late music legend’s birthday cake. “I thought I was going to throw up,” Lane remembers her nervousness over such a huge piece of history as it sat in her bakery.
Once neighboring Music Row, her pink boxes of pure indulgence have become a sort of all-access pass. She recalls a press party for Garth Brooks when his security wasn’t letting anyone through…that is, until Lane showed up with her signature cake box. “I can get anywhere with one of those boxes,” she smiles.
There’s no better clearance than from secret service. Right? She actually made soon-to-be President and First Lady Obama’s anniversary cake during their Nashville stop on the campaign trail. “We were on lockdown,” she describes walking right into Obama’s hotel to hand-deliver the presidential confection.
Speaking of presidential cakes…
Passionate- that’s the one word Executive Pastry Chef Lisa Marie White summed up New Orleans to gonola.com back in 2014. Many moons have passed since that cold winter’s day, including her latest digs at Nashville’s chic Southern seafood restaurant, Marsh House in the Thompson Hotel.
Let’s just say she puts more than a little passion in her biscuits. Really. They’re enough to make you throw away your favorite biscuit cutter and crown her the modern “Queen of Biscuits.”
Speaking of the crown, she once made a King Cake for the succeeded President of France, President François Hollande during his 2014 visit to Washington DC. She went with a non-traditional recipe she won in contests 5 years running. It was a brioche dough, stuffed with salted caramel, caramelized milk, roasted pecans, bananas which she covered in praline glaze and touched with gold. “I used a dried fava bean that I would wrap in gold leaf, which predates the baby that started in the 1950s. I was excited but nervous I was not finishing it, and was hopeful everyone took great care and love like I would,” she remembers, because she didn’t actually get to travel with the cake to DC.
Back to that movie marathon, Grammy Award-winning singer, Michael Bolton’s new album “Songs of Cinema” was released earlier this year. While on tour, he celebrated his birthday at the Beau Rivage Theater in Biloxi, Mississippi. In true Southern style, the fine folks at Beau Rivage presented him with this cake.
There seems to be a “National Eat This Day” for everything. Come January 23rd, we’ll celebrate National Pie Day. Whether you’re a cake or pie person, there’s always time in the day to celebrate the sweet life!
Check out this Southern Foodways Alliance Cake vs. Pie Lincoln-Douglas debate between New York Times Atlanta Bureau Chief, Kim Severson (Team Cake) and Time Inc. and Extra Crispy Senior Food and Drinks Editor, Kat Kinsman (Team Pie.)
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