Delight in the distinctive treats of this self-taught seasonal baker whose inspiration comes from fresh finds growing around her home in the mountains.
By Elizabeth Bonner
Hannah Queen’s journey to the creation of her cookbook unfolded naturally, characterized by a sweet simplicity just like each of her recipes. In Honey & Jam, she presents more than 70 classic and contemporary, sweet and savory baked goods—from fresh cakes and trifles to breads and biscuits—all made with an imaginative mix of locally sourced, in-season ingredients.
It all started when Hannah left college at 18 after deciding this wasn’t the best path for her. Desiring a creative outlet, she launched her blog—the original Honey & Jam—and began experimenting with baking and her new DSLR camera. She began sharing her triumphs and failures in the kitchen, as well as casual snapshots of her scenic surroundings in the Appalachian Mountains. Through this platform, her passions were born.
Within a year, the Georgia native started selling breads and sweets at the Blue Ridge farmers’ market. “Speaking to farmers and watching the produce change with the seasons taught me so much,” Hannah says. “I fell in love with baking seasonally. It comes naturally when you realize that a peach just tastes better when it’s in season.”
Baking with the seasons became the focus of her work and, eventually, her cookbook. Hannah also enjoys incorporating unusual ingredients into her recipes, such as unexpected herbs and spices. “I wanted to play with those combinations and create recipes that were familiar but stood out a bit more,” the baker explains.
Some of these standouts include her Blackberry, Peach, and Basil Trifle, Pistachio-Ginger Shortcakes with Roasted Apricots, Black Pepper–Roasted Strawberry Buttermilk Cake, and Rosemary Cornmeal Pound Cake with Caramelized Plums. Still, some recipes remain more conventional, such as her Carrot Cupcakes with Honey-Cream Cheese Frosting, which she made in cake form for her sister’s wedding.
The book is organized by the seasons and includes a section with advice for stocking a pantry, the best kitchen supplies, and proper baking techniques, as well as a guide to seasonal produce. Hannah adds a personal touch to each recipe with charming memories, interesting tidbits, and valuable tips from her experiences, and the author’s own photos of her food and home lend their beauty to the book.
“For me, this is more than a cookbook,” she says. “It’s a photography book, a cookbook, and a celebration of my corner of the world. Growing up in Southern Appalachia, you can’t help but be influenced by the food culture here. It’s ingrained in our way of life. In a lot of ways, most of our best living happens in the kitchen. It’s where we gather together to talk, laugh, and eat. I hope this book brings some [of that] sweetness and beauty into folks’ lives.”
Get the recipe for Hannah’s delectable Cantaloupe Mousse Cake, and enter for your chance to win her cookbook. Get more on Honey & Jam in our May/June issue on newsstands April 12.