I was born and raised in the Mississippi Delta in Indianola, home of Craig Claibourne, BB King, and other greats. One of the things I remember most about my childhood is my mama picking me up from school and we would hurry home to have a large slice of cake that she'd baked with a tall glass of milk. I got my BS in Library Science from MSCW --now MUW -- in Columbus, MS, and almost all of a Masters in Special Education from Delta State University, in Cleveland.
I moved to Athens GA in 1979 and don't plan to move again! I retired from the University of Georgia in 2006 having worked for one President and seven Vice Presidents. The next year Mama died and I began to take up where she left off, baking and then decorating cakes. It was good grief therapy for me. I took the Wilton classes at a Michael's store and then have taken, I think, ten classes from the Nicholas Lodge Studio -- fortunately only an hour away an the NE Atlanta area.
I hope I never have to make money from my "creations" because I think that would take a lot of the fun away from it. I'd rather make things for people because I love them, and I also enjoy not having to sweat with worry that they might not think they got what they paid for!
Here is my favorite recipe. It's not of cake, but of candy.
2 cups sugar
1 cup buttermilk
2 TBSP light corn syrup
1 cup unsalted butter
1 tsp baking soda
1 healthy tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp freshly ground salt
1 to 1 1/4 cup coursely chopped pecans
Have some waxed paper spread out on your kitchen counters and a spoon ready nearby.
Butter sides, but not bottom, of 4 quart saucepan. (This is not using the butter listed above.)
Combine buttermilk, syrup, butter, sugar and baking soda. Cook over low heat, stirring often, until sugar dissolves.
Then, without stirring, boil over medium heat until mixture reaches soft ball stage. (235-240 degrees F) Use your candy thermometer and a bowl of almost ice-cold water to be sure it’s right.
Remove sauce pan from heat and add vanilla and salt.
Beat (yes, beat!) with wooden spoon until mixture thickens and begins to lose its gloss. This takes awhile. DO NOT UNDERBEAT or your pralines will not cure properly. DO NOT OVERBEAT or else your pralines will look like small mountains of pale poo.
Stir in pecans. This cools mixture rapidly so HURRY and then drop from spoon onto waxed paper and let cool.
Makes about 1 ½ pounds if you can keep husband and children away.
Storage: After cool, I cut waxed paper into pieces around the pralines and then layer them (still attached) into an airtight container. Just before serving, I peel off the waxed paper from the backs of the pralines and place the pralines on a pretty platter. Be sure it’s a pretty platter because in just a moment the pralines will be gone! Ha. Enjoy.
PS: These are pronounced PRAW-lines, not PRAY-lines.
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