Southern Pecan Bread is an old-fashioned Southern treat that is buttery and chock full of pecans and great for pot lucks or barbecues. Trust me, it’s a bread in name only; these are sweet, rich bars perfect for coffee or dessert!
I have so much stuff to unpack for this post today but bear with me; this Southern Pecan Bread is worth getting to! I’ve had a month of one traumatic event after the other and then my first effort baking made my heart sink…enough already!
To start, I was the reluctant owner of an orange long hair tabby cat. Peyton was left with me to watch for two weeks in January of 2014 when he was about nine years old. When the owner bailed on their promise to find him a new home, he became a member of my household.
It was not without a certain amount of me howling at the moon since I did not want a cat, much less a long hair cat, but his demeanor and his very obvious fear of strangers would not let me take him and dump him at the pound; I was pretty sure how that would turn out.
So he’s been my cat for 5 years and if I’m honest it was never an easy road for me. I had moved into a brand new home and some of that howling was because of the long hair everywhere. More maybe when he decided that a litter box was not always where he felt it was necessary to travel to when he needed to poop; my morning duty was a ritual of walking through the house looking for those ‘gifts!’
But he grew on me and I saw slow but continuous changes for the better. It took him two years to sit next to me on the sofa and another before he would sleep in his cat bed on my bed…but he steadily grew more confident and by year three he was definitely enamored of me and yes, I of him.
He would not come to me anywhere but my office or bedroom and he never let me pick him up but he would start crying about 8pm for me to come into my bedroom, his safe space. In there he would butt my hand and let me know that petting time should commence. He liked to fall asleep with his little head in my hand…it really was sweet.
A few weeks ago he did something so strange, so completely out of character when he turned while I was petting him and sort of mouthed my hand. I pulled it away but it seemed he had developed an interest in my hand that started to make me uncomfortable. Then one fateful night, after I had pulled my hands under the covers because of how he was staring at them, he spotted my wrist that was not protected and bounded across the bed and sunk his teeth in.
That was the beginning of the end. In short order, my entire forearm was ravaged with a serious infection that took me almost 2 weeks to eradicate and I suffered through a tetanus shot and an antibiotic shot every other day for a week on top of oral and topical antibiotics. I also made a vet appointment; there is a local vet that does house calls that I thought would be more comfortable for him.
He continued to act strange and I was attributing it to cataracts, thinking he was having a problem with his eyesight. The evening before the vet visit he tried to attack my wrist again and by this time I was pretty anxious. I will not post a photo of my arm but if you saw it, you would understand…it was serious enough that I was almost hospitalized.
The vet came and we talked at length before having her meet him; I shared with her the erratic behavior I was witnessing. I also showed her a photo I had just taken of Peyton and she knew right away what the problem was…she noticed a dark, almost hollow looking spot in his left eye and it only cemented what she had been thinking. My beautiful boy had either a brain tumor or infection and he was suffering and acting out as a result.
The decision was made to put him down and I have to admit I sure bawled like a baby at losing the cat I did not want. He was a testimony to years of patience and love and I always felt that despite my misgivings I was glad he ended up here with me. I have a quiet home and he found a safe place where he had nothing to fear and where he knew that his human loved him. I had no doubt he loved me.
He was the sweetest, most gentle cat I have ever known. I would like to think I gave him a good retirement villa for his last years…RIP Peyton, you are missed buddy.
I went through some down time on the blog for sure but working in the kitchen has always been my salvation and I was looking forward to getting back into the groove. First I wanted to do some re-arranging of some furniture pieces in my studio and get a setup that I liked better.
My fabulous neighbor Sam, who I call the son I never had, came over one day to help me do what I called ‘musical tables.’ We took apart a big table in my studio that was just too much and put it in his car for Goodwill.
Then we moved the table that used to be in the studio back into that space, all newly painted. Last but not least there was a dresser I had bought that was in my Explorer. It had to be moved inside to the family room to replace the table. No big deal; Sam and I are a good team. He’s big and strong and I’m bossy. 🙂
I spent the next day fine tuning lots of storage and when I was almost done I decided to move that table into my studio closer to the wall. A quick easy thing. Until it wasn’t. I felt a twinge and knew I had pulled something but it wasn’t too bad. Yet. Long story short that twinge soon became a real ‘pain in the back’ and I’ve just spent ten days laying on a heating paid and downing Ibuprofen and today I’m finally able to rally this poor body out of bed without literally crying first.
I’ve done this before. THIRTY years ago…guess the good thing is maybe I won’t do it again for thirty more? I knew Progressive Eats was scheduled for today and thought I might have to bail for the first time ever but the theme from our host is Southern Foods; I have a ten year history of living in the South and really wanted to participate.
Luckily I found an old favorite and it’s easy to make so I’m feeling pretty accomplished right now. As accomplished as anyone can feel who bakes at 6,200 feet up in the air…it’s horrid!
When I lived further north in Denver metro my home was at 5,200′ – the Mile High City you’ve heard of. No one told me that moving to the most Southern suburb would add a thousand feet to that height; I just found out last year and yes, it is more of a struggle. So to be honest, I made these bars twice; the first batch I gave away and the second were better but still not perfect.
Want to know what high altitude does? Our thinner air means that baked goods rise faster and when they do, the baking does not keep up with solidifying the structure so they get to a point where they just fall. So it’s a science of knowing how much less leavening to use, how much more flour…adding a bit of water and then sometimes turning up the oven a bit to fasten the hold of the structure.
First time I failed miserably but mostly because I used a metal pan so second time around I found a glass baking pan and removed a bit more leavening from the recipe and while better, sure not perfect but honestly? Good enough. The recipe that I include is NOT for high altitude, it’s for the rest of the world, so I just modify it for me and it usually works out. Cakes are easier than cupcakes which are easier than bars and then there are poor cookies. My cookies always look like a bas relief project!
That being said this is called Southern Pecan Bread. Yes, bread. Southerners are funny sometimes with the naming business. This is a sweet bar more like a brownie/cookie combination…nothing bread-like about it. Except it’s hard to eat just one slice?
I have no doubt they must have named another favorite of mine, the Strawberry Pretzel Salad. With a salty and sweet pretzel crust and layers of whipped cream and strawberries, that sucker is no salad, it’s a full on dessert and a really good one at that! That happened more than once when we attended events in Raleigh…guess Southerners just love their sweets but want to pretend they’re eating salad? 🙂
Still these tasted just as I remembered them; lovely and buttery and simply chock full of pecans. Easy to make too; no mixer is even required. Yours just won’t look like a ski slope!
For more Southern inspired foods, please join me and my friends for Progressive Eats, our monthly foodfest featuring all foods redolent of the South with none of them to be missed!
Welcome to Progressive Eats, our virtual version of a Progressive Dinner Party. Each recipe in our menu this month features food from the South, and our host is Karen who blogs at Karen’s Kitchen Stories.
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, a progressive dinner involves going from house to house, enjoying a different course at each location. With Progressive Eats it’s a virtual party. A theme is chosen each month, members share recipes suitable for a delicious meal or party, and you can hop from blog to blog to check them out. Come along and see all of the delicious dishes from the South!
Food from The South
- Sweet Tea Sangria – The Redheaded Baker
- Southern Pimento Cheese + Roasted Broccoli Bites – The Wimpy Vegetarian
- Southern Pecan Bread – Creative Culinary (You’re Here!)
- Spicy Sauteed Kale with Andouille Sausage – From A Chef’s Kitchen
- Old-Fashioned Southern Banana Pudding – That Skinny Chick Can Bake
- Derby Pie Shortbread Bars – Mother Would Know
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 4 eggs beaten
- 1/2 cup melted butter
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 cups chopped pecans - divided
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray and flour a 9x13 baking dish; line the bottom with parchment paper and lightly grease.
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine sugar, brown sugar, eggs, butter, and oil until smooth. Gently stir in flour and vanilla. Finally, mix in 1 & 1/2 cups chopped pecans.
- Pour mixture into prepared baking dish.
- Sprinkle the remaining (1/2 cup) chopped pecans on top
- Bake for 30-35 minutes until lightly browned
- Cool in pan and cut into squares to serve