On today’s episode of THE FOOD SEEN, Mississippi born Ben Mims was surrounded by a family of fabulous bakers and sweet-makers. There was his mother Judy’s weekly Pecan Pie. His aunt Barbara Jane’s coveted Christmas tin, full of Pretzel-Peanut-Chocolate Candy and Crisp Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. He’d stop by his grandma Carol’s to eat Coconut Layer Cake. Saturday mornings weren’t complete with out fluffy biscuits and muscadine jelly. No wonder you couldn’t take the South of of this boy even after years of working as a food editor for Saveur in NYC, pastry chef in SF’s Bar Agricole, and back to NYC in the test kitchens of Food & Wine. Ben’s now published, Sweet & Southern: Classic Desserts with a Twist. Don’t worry, there’s your classic Hummingbird Cake and Peach Cobbler, Peanut Butter Pie and Buttered-Pecan Ice Cream, but also riffs like Cantaloupe Upside-Down Cake, “Red Velvet” made with pomegranate juice, and an Ambrosia Pavlova. His inspirations travel even further, Indonesian by way of Dutch baking traditions for his Cinnamon-Chocolate Spekkuk, a Southernized Sicilian Cassata swapping sweet ricotta for cream cheese, a Sweet Potato Cake that resembles Arabian Spoon Halva, Camotes Pie made with Mexican piloncillo, and Pumpkin Kanafe influenced by the Greek ingredients of his neighborhood, Astoria, Queens. Just in case your Valentines Day isn’t sweet enough. This program was brought to you by White Oak Pastures.

“A lot of cakes and cookies I write about were made or invented during the … years in the south when all you had was a wood burning oven..it’s interesting how the oven has changed what people would bake.” [07:30]

–Ben Mims on The Food Seen