Sweets for the Sweet: Loveless Releases Dessert Cook Book



Chef Alisa Huntsman with some of her wares at the Loveless
  • Chef Alisa Huntsman with some of her wares at the Loveless
Everybody knows that the Loveless Cafe is famous for their biscuits and their downhome Southern meals, but can you believe that until just a few years ago, they didn't even have a dessert menu? That all changed seven years ago when they hired baker Alisa Huntsman and gave her a small space in their dry storage room to experiment with hundreds of new recipes that she had percolating in her creative mind.

On one little counter in that private space, Huntsman took advantage of all the wonderful fruits that the Loveless had access to for the tankerloads of preserves that they produce for their restaurant and their burgeoning Hams and Jams mail-order business. She reveled in her private kitchen since nobody could see what she threw away during her various trials. Fortunately, her successes vastly outnumbered her failures and now she has chosen a hundred of her best to share with readers in the Loveless' new Desserts from the Famous Loveless Cafe cookbook.

The tome overflows with fairly simple recipes for pies, puddings, cakes and cobblers that have been converted to individual proportions for preparation in the home kitchen. In the beginning, all the cafe asked for was a good banana pudding recipe and maybe some cobblers, but Huntsman would not be limited. Now you can make and bake her versions of Harpeth Valley Hummingbird Cake, Root Beer Float Cake and Chocolate Cherry Cha-Chas for the members of your own household and save yourself the half-hour drive out Highway 100 to the Loveless. But seriously, make the drive and try Alisa's treats.

In addition to all the recipes, the book shares lots of helpful hints for the bakerphobics among us. Huntsman realized that we like our treats sweet and figured out ways to torque up the flavors without making them overly cloying. For example, blackberries share a similar flavor profile as rosewater, so she adds rosewater to her cobbler to enhance the intensity of the berries. Who da' thunk it?

Other tips seem obvious when you read them, but can really help to simplify the process an reduce the mess in your kitchen. For example, if you have trouble handling dough after you roll it out, do your rolling on a sheet of wax paper or parchment. Then you can just carry it over to your pie dish and flip it over to top your pie.

If you always make a mess cutting a pie like many of us do, OK maybe just me, chill the pie thoroughly in the refrigerator before you precut it into neat slices. Since room temperature pies have much more flavor than icebox pies, let the stand on a plate for at least a half-hour before serving. Brilliant!

Anybody who can make rhubarb taste great is a hero of mine, and I was fortunate enough to sample some of Alisa's Rhubarb-Strawberry Pie, which has created another fan of the concept of making pies with vegetables. Now you can enjoy Loveless desserts without waiting hours for a table.

The cookbook is available at the Loveless Cafe or at Amazon.com. Now you have no excuse not to make three desserts for Thanksgiving.

Bonus Bites Contest: Chef Huntsman was nice enough to donate a signed copy of her cookbook for some lucky Bites reader. Leave a comment with either your best dessert or your worst baking nightmare in the comments and we'll award it to a lucky randomly selected reader next week. If your kitchen nightmare is particularly egregious, we might give you some extra help with the random-number generator.

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