Recipes from the Heart – IX

Bradley’s Country Store is a cultural treasure, an authentic survivor of Original Florida. Nestled in Moccasin Gap along an Live Oak and Spanish Moss canopied road, the profoundly charming store near Tallahassee is just six miles from the Georgia border. Operated by Jan Bradley Parker, known affectionately as “Miss Jan,” chefs, cooks, fans from faraway paces and well-known locals like legendary football coach Bobby Bowden drop in to chat, buy stone ground grits and walk around the the yard. Bradley’s is deservedly on the National Historic Register. It’s a primary stop when I’m in North Florida. Miss Jan graciously provided one of her heirloom recipes.

Bradley’s Country Store has a global reputation for authenticity.


Aunt Gina’s Breakfast Casserole


11/2 lbs. Bradley’s Bulk Sausage (Hot, Medium of Mild)
1/2 medium onion
1/2 medium green pepper
1 tbs oil
1/2 tbs. Worcestershire Sauce
1 large can cut tomatoes
6 Bay leaves
4 oz/ fine Egg Noodles, cooked according to directions
1/4 cup grate Parmesan cheese


Crumble and brown sausage; drain.
Sauté onion & pepper in oil until glossy
Mix sausage, pepper, onion, tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce and Bay leaves
Simmer 20 minutes.
Remove Bay leaves.
Combine mixture with noodles in greased casserole dish and top with cheese.
Bake 20 minutes at 350 degrees.


Rich’s Coconut Cake

Rich’s Coconut Cake is an iconic Southern dessert.

A landmark department store, Atlanta-based Rich’s was a mighty influence on Southern cooking. Not only did it have a quality restaurant, The Magnolia Room, but sponsored an influential cooking school that expanded the palate. One recipe stands out as one for the ages. Here’s their treasured Coconut Cake that, when served, will inspire a songs from a band of angels.

Rich’s Bakeshop Coconut Cake

16 servings

2 pounds frozen unsweetened shredded coconut
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 or 3 layers Rich’s Bakeshop Yellow Cake (see recipe)
1 batch Rich’s Bakeshop Icing (see recipe)

In a large bowl, thaw the frozen coconut. Set aside. Take 1 1/2 cups of the coconut and place in a smaller bowl. Combine the water and sugar and pour over this smaller bowl of coconut. This should be very moist but not soupy. Place one layer of the yellow cake on a cake plate and spread with icing. Spoon the moistened coconut over that.

Place the next layer on top and spread with icing, spooning the moistened coconut over it. Continue this process until all your layers are filled; however, don’t put the moist filling on the very top of the last layer, as it will be iced. Next, cover the entire cake with the icing. Make sure to use a thick coating of icing on the cake to eliminate any of the cake showing through.

Take handfuls of the dry, thawed coconut and press the flakes into the icing. You may want to put a tray underneath to catch any coconut that falls as you do this. Continue pressing dry, flaky coconut all over the cake until it is completely covered. Chill for about one hour to set (it helps the coconut to stay) and then serve.

Rich’s Bakeshop Yellow Cake

Three thin 9-inch layers or two thicker 9-inch layers

Rich’s always did a three-layer cake, with two layers of coconut filling, but some home cooks don’t have three pans of the same size, so two would work just fine.

Shortening and flour for pans

2 1/4 cups cake flour (if you can’t find cake flour, use White Lily brand all-purpose flour)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon powdered milk
1/2 cup water
2/3 cup liquid milk (2 percent or whole)
3/4 cup vegetable shortening
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare cake pans by lightly greasing with shortening, then dusting with flour. In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt and baking powder. Set aside. In a small bowl or measuring cup, stir the powdered milk into the water and mix until dissolved. Combine the liquid milk with the powdered milk/water mixture and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the shortening and the sugar until fluffy.

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add about half the flour mixture, beating until just incorporated, and then half the milk mixture, again beating until just incorporated. Repeat this step, adding the remaining flour with the remaining liquid, and beat until just smooth (about 1 minute).

Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowls once or twice during the mixing. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans and bake in preheated oven for about 20-30 minutes. The cooking time will vary depending on how many cake pans you use and how full they are. The cake is done when it springs back when lightly pressed near the center with your finger. Allow the cake to cool for a few minutes in the pan, and then turn out onto cooling racks to cool completely.

Richs Bakeshop Icing

1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
1 pound confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons powdered milk
1/2 cup water (for dissolving milk powder)

In a mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, combine the vegetable shortening, vanilla and salt and cream together until incorporated. Slowly add the confectioners’ sugar until it forms a very thick consistency. Dissolve the powdered milk in the water and gradually add, just 1 or 2 tablespoons at a time, until the icing is a nice, spreadable consistency.


Old school journalism describes the style and stories produced by Doc Lawrence. “In everything I do,” he says, “there is a beginning, middle and an end.” One of the top travel writers in the country, Doc is steeped in the heritage of the deep south. Traveling the back roads from Texas to Virginia and on down to Key West inspires stories about local food and wine preferences, community theater, folk art and music often leading to clues for a good story. Heroes include Faulkner, Hemingway, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Ralph Ellison, Dorothy Parker and Willie Morris. An Atlanta native, Doc keeps a well-stocked wine cellar and bar and two outdoor grills. He enjoys entertaining and believes that the greatest challenge for a writer is to keep searching for a higher life. |
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