At the Table

Brunch Recipes with Baking Authority Cheryl Day

By: The Local Palate

Cheryl Day knows a thing or two about baking to entertain. The owner and baker behind the renowned Back in the Day Bakery Brunch has been serving up sweet treats to Savannah, Georgia, for close to 25 years. With classic Southern brunch recipes like sweet potato biscuits, pie, and mini angel food cakes swathed in whipped cream, Day regularly pleases crowds through the power of gluten. Baking and weekends go hand in hand, we called upon this baking legend to guide us through how to feed (and host) a Southern-style brunch:

Cheryl Day

TLP: Aside from the amount of food you prepare, how does preparation differ between an intimate brunch of a few people versus a gathering of many? 

The key is always to prepare what you can in advance.  I also always set my table with flowers and any other special decor the night before.

What are some of your mainstay brunch recipes?

I always like to serve a signature cocktail and mocktail to set the tone for every gathering and I’m famous for my biscuit board filled with my very own Janie Q. Provision jams, compound butters, cheeses, nuts, fruit and other snacky-snacks.

What are your top tips for someone planning ahead for a brunch? 

Make a schedule and do what you can days or weeks in advance so that it is fun and not a daunting task. For example, if you are making hand pies, go ahead and make pie dough one day, roll them the next day, and fill the hand pies up to a week in advance, freeze them and bake fresh the day of your brunch.

Uh-oh! The scones burned and people are about to arrive—what is a quick and easy dish someone can whip up on the fly if things go awry the morning of? 

You can always whip a quick batch of muffins with a few pantry staples and your guests will think you planned it when they smell them baking upon arrival. Pro tip: enlist a great friend to babysit the oven while you are getting ready so you won’t ever burn those scones again.

Sweet potato biscuits, one of Cheryl Day's brunch recipes, an orange cup of coffee and honey lie in the background

Cheryl Day Brunch Recipes

Sweet Potato Biscuits
Sweet potato biscuits act like a vehicle for sweet and savory toppings—serve them with a spread of salty ham, whipped butter, and jams and let people customize their own.

Compound Butter
Butter spiced with warming cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger complements the carmelized notes in the sweet potato biscuits. Additionally, you can also smear this warmly spiced butter over french toast, pancakes, and scones.

Homemade jam is a necessity on a Cheryl Day-style biscuit board. We like this homemade/home-canned strawberry jam with biscuits, plus extra mini jars to send home with guests as a party favor. 

Cover of Cheryl Days treasury of southern baking, where the brunch recipes were pulled from

Greet guests with a cooling rosemary-infused lemonade. This recipe as written makes a half gallon, so its nonalcoholic properties means guests can enjoy as many rounds as they would like.

When hosting people, go for a summery punch that you can batch ahead of time and guests can swerve themselves. Loaded with strawberries, lemon, and fresh mint, the jam and juice punch packs sunny, summer flavors that feel day-drinking appropriate. 

Hand Pies
Delight guests with a personal-size cheesy, herby Southern tomato pie. These pies keep well in an airtight container, so make them the day before and warm them in a 200 degree oven about 10 minutes before serving. Prefer sweet hand pies? Check out these homemade strawberry pop tarts.

For a Southern riff on English scones with clotted cream and jam, Sugar Bakeshop serves its cream scones with honey butter and richly reduced skillet raspberry jam.

Excerpted from Cheryl Day’s Treasury of Southern Baking by Cheryl Day (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2021.

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