An ancient Old World grass that resembles corn, sorghum is cultivated and used as a grain in most of the world. It has been a key ingredient in Southern baked goods, confections, glazes, and dressings since before the Civil War. Though essential to the region, sorghum’s complex flavors and deep heritage have often gone unsung. Throughout Sorghum’s Savor (University Press of Florida, 2015), author Ronni Lundy weaves rich stories and descriptions from her Kentucky childhood and her many years invested in the mountain foodways community.
The Jewish New Year celebration, Rosh Hashanah, typically includes a spice and honey cake to symbolize the sweetness possible in the coming year. Sorghum simply adds an extra resonance to that flavor. This not-too-moist loaf is delicious with tea or coffee to greet the morning or a glass of wine or good whiskey to toast new beginnings.
• 2⁄3 cup sugar
•2 tablespoons coconut (or vegetable) oil
•2⁄3 cup sorghum syrup
•2-1/4 cups flour
•1 teaspoon baking powder
•1 teaspoon baking soda
•1/2 teaspoon salt
•1 teaspoon ground coriander
•1 teaspoon allspice
•1/2 cup warm water
•Walnut pieces or pecans (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a loaf pan and set aside.
2. Cream sugar and eggs, then blend in oil and sorghum.
3. Sift flour with other dry ingredients, including spices. Add about 1/3 to sorghum mixture and blend. Add half the water and blend. Repeat until all flour and water are incorporated.
4. Pour into loaf pan and sprinkle nuts on top, if desired. Bake for 45 minutes and check to see if top is browning too quickly. If so, cover with tented aluminum foil. Lower temperature to 325°F and bake an additional 15 minutes until cake tests done.
5. Allow to cool on rack. Use the side of a knife to loosen from the loaf pan, and invert on rack. Serve immediately or wrap well in plastic wrap to keep.
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Reprinted with permission from Sorghum’s Savor by Ronni Lundy and published by University Press of Florida, 2015.