Recipes from To Kill a Mockingbird

Kerry and I love reading books and finding all the food references. To Kill a Mockingbird is full of references, especially at the beginning when characters and their relationships are being established. My favorite reference comes right off the bat on page 5-6. Scout is remembering the town of Maycomb and recalling how hot it was; something I am sure we can all relate to:  
            Somehow it was hotter then: a black dog suffered on a summer’s day; bony mules hitched to Hoover carts flicked flies in the sweltering shade of the oaks on the square. Men’s stiff collars wilted by nine in the morning. Ladies bathed before noon, after their three-o-clock naps, and by nightfall were like soft teacakes with frostings of sweat and sweet talcum.
I can just see these ladies trying their hardest to be presentable despite the heat and humidity.  

Southern Tea Cakes
1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated white sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Zest of 1 large lemon
2 1/4 cups (295 grams) all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Confectioners' Frosting:
2 cups (230 grams) confectioners’ sugar (icing or powdered sugar), sifted
1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk or light cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Instructions Cookies
In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer) beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract and lemon zest. 
In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to the butter and egg mixture and beat until combined.
Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and, with a floured rolling pan, roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/2 inch (1.25 cm). Using a round 2 - 2 1/2 inch (5 - 6 cm) cookie cutter, cut the dough into circles. Save the scraps and reroll. Transfer the cookies to the prepared baking sheet, spacing them a few inches apart.
Bake for approximately 10-12 minutes (baking time will vary depending on the size and shape of cookies) or until the bottoms of the cookies are lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the center of a cookie comes out clean.  Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Once the cookies have completely cooled, frost with icing.
Instructions Frosting
In an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth and well blended. Add the vanilla extract.  With the mixer on low speed, gradually beat in the sugar. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the milk and beat on high speed until frosting is light and fluffy (about 3-4 minutes). Add a little more milk or sugar, if needed. Tint the frosting with desired food color (I use the paste food coloring that is available at cake decorating stores and party stores).
Makes about 16 cookies.

            Calpurnia appeared at the front door and yelled, “Lemonade time! You all get in outa that hot sun ‘fore you fry alive!” Lemonade in the middle of the morning was a summertime ritual. Calpurnia set a pitcher and three glasses on the porch, then went about her business. Being out of Jem’s good graces did not worry me especially. Lemonade would restore his good humor. (page 42)

1 cup sugar (can reduce to 3/4 cup)
1 cup water (for the simple syrup)
1 cup lemon juice
3 to 4 cups cold water (to dilute)
1 Make simple syrup by heating the sugar and water in a small saucepan until the sugar is dissolved completely.
2 While the sugar is dissolving, use a juicer to extract the juice from 4 to 6 lemons, enough for one cup of juice.
3 Add the juice and the sugar water to a pitcher. Add 3 to 4 cups of cold water, more or less to the desired strength. Refrigerate 30 to 40 minutes. If the lemonade is a little sweet for your taste, add a little more straight lemon juice to it.
Serve with ice, sliced lemons.

Crackling Bread
            Perhaps Calpurnia sensed that my day had been a grim one: she let me watch her fix supper. “Shut your eyes and open your mouth and I’ll give you a surprise,” she said.
It was not often that she made crackling bread, she said she never had time, but with both of us at school today had been an easy one for her. She knew I loved crackling bread.
“I missed you today,” she said. (page 31-32)

9 ounces (2 cups) cornmeal (ideally White Lily white corn meal, but yellow will do)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
12 ounces (1 1/2 cups) buttermilk
1 large egg
1 cup cracklings (or substitute crispy bacon pieces)
1 tablespoon lard, butter or bacon drippings
Preheat your oven to 450°F. Once the oven is hot, put the tablespoon of fat into the skillet and put the skillet in the oven to heat. Meanwhile, mix up your batter. Whisk the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl. Whisk the buttermilk and egg together in another bowl, then combine the wet and dry ingredients, whisking just until combined. Lastly, whisk in the cracklings. Remove the pan from the oven and pour in the batter, it will sizzle appealingly. Turn the heat down to 350 and return the pan to the oven. Bake until golden, about 25 minutes. When baked, flip the bread out of the pan so the crispy crust faces up. Slice into wedges and serve, with a drizzle of honey if desired.

What are cracklings?
“My grandfather, my father, and my uncles must have killed many hogs that day so long ago. The smokehouse sat to the far right of the photo, and they would have filled it with a year's supply of pork. While the men did that, the women cooked cracklins. Actually, they rendered the oil, lard, from the fat clinging to the skins of the hogs. Cracklins, therefore, are the by-product of rendering oil.”

Scuppernongs, page 47
What are scuppernongs?
The scuppernong is a large variety of muscadine a species of grape native to the southeastern United States. It is usually a greenish or bronze color and is similar in appearance and texture to a white grape, but rounder and larger and first known as the 'big white grape'. The grape is also commonly known as the "scuplin" in some areas of the Deep South.

Lane Cake
Soon as I can get my hands clean and when Stephanie Crawford’s not looking, I’ll make him a Lane cake. That Stephanie’s been after my recipe for thirty years, and if she thinks I’ll give it to her just because I’m staying with her she’s got another thing coming… Miss Maudie had once let me see: among other things, the recipe called for one large cup of sugar. (page 83)

When Aunt Alexandra comes to live with the family: “Maycomb welcomed her. Miss Maudie Atlkinson baked a Lane cake so loaded with shinny it made me tight.” (page 146)

The Lane cake, one of Alabama's more famous culinary specialties, was created by Emma Rylander Lane of Clayton, Barbour County. It is a type of white sponge cake made with egg whites and consists of four layers that are filled with a mixture of the egg yolks, butter, sugar, raisins, and whiskey. The cake is frosted with a boiled, fluffy white confection of water, sugar, and whipped egg whites. The cake is typically served in the South at birthdays, wedding anniversaries, and other special occasions. The recipe was first printed in Lane's cookbook Some Good Things to Eat, which she self-published in 1898.
According to chef and culinary scholar Neil Ravenna, Lane first brought her cake recipe to public attention at a county fair in Columbus, Georgia, when she entered her cake in a baking competition there and took first prize. She originally named the cake the Prize cake, but an acquaintance convinced her to lend her own name to the dessert.

For the Cake:
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 1/4 cups cake flour
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
8 egg whites

For the Filling and Topping
8 egg yolks
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
Grated rind of 1 orange
1/3 cup bourbon (apple, grape or cherry juice may be substituted for the bourbon)
1/2 teaspoon mace
1 1/4 cups pecans, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup raisins
1 cup glace cherries, quartered

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees f (190 C). Grease and flour three 9-inch round cake pans.
2. Cream butter and sugar together until light and creamy. Beat in vanilla.
3. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt twice. Stir flour mixture into batter alternately with milk.
4. Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry. Stir 1/4 of whites into batter. Fold in remaining whites until just mixed.
5. Spoon batter into the 3 prepared cake pans and bake 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in pans for 10 minutes; turn onto cake racks.
6. To prepare filling, mix together yolks, sugar and orange rind in a heavy pan or in top of a double boiler.
7. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves and mixture thickens enough to coat back of spoon. Do not allow to boil or eggs will scramble.
8. Remove from heat and stir in remaining ingredients. Let filling cool. Fill the cake layers and spread on top and sides of cake.

Lane cake improves in flavor as it ages and mellows. Covered and uncut, this cake can be made 1 week before serving. It's not necessary to refrigerate.
Makes 8-10 servings.

Biscuit and Butter
We skulked around the kitchen until Calpurnia threw us out. By some voo-doo system Calpurnia seemed to know all about it. She was a less than satisfactory source of palliation, but she did give Jem a hot biscuit-and-butter which he tore in half and shared with me. It tasted like cotton. (page 118)

2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons shortening
1 cup buttermilk, chilled
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Using your fingertips, rub butter and shortening into dry ingredients until mixture looks like crumbs. (The faster the better, you don't want the fats to melt.) Make a well in the center and pour in the chilled buttermilk. Stir just until the dough comes together. The dough will be very sticky.
Turn dough onto floured surface, dust top with flour and gently fold dough over on itself 5 or 6 times. Press into a 1-inch thick round. Cut out biscuits with a 2-inch cutter, being sure to push straight down through the dough. Place biscuits on baking sheet so that they just touch. Reform scrap dough, working it as little as possible and continue cutting. (Biscuits from the second pass will not be quite as light as those from the first, but hey, that's life.)Makes 1 dozen.
Bake until biscuits are tall and light gold on top, 15 to 20 minutes.

Charlotte Russe
The gentle hum of ladies’ voices grew louder as she opened the door: “Why, Alexandra, I never saw such a charlotte… just lovely… I never can get my crust like this, never can… “ (page 261)
Note: I have included two recipes for Charlotte Russe, a chocolate and a lemon. They both looked so good and since the book didn’t specify… well, I thought I would copy both.

What is Charlotte Russe?
You'll find recipes for a wide variety of cakes referred to as a charlottes. Typically a special mold is lined with cake, cookies, or bread and then filled with a custard, mousse or pudding. There are even French recipes for savory charlottes -- for example lining a pan with cabbage leaves and filling it with an egg and vegetable mixture before baking.
According to some food historians, the original charlotte was made in England in the 18th century in honor of Queen Charlotte, the wife of King George III. In France, the invention of a special charlotte called a Charlotte Russe (or Russian Charlotte), is credited to a French chef who named it after his employer, who was a Czar.
A Charlotte Russe typically is made with lady fingers for a lining and contains a cream filling that is set with gelatin - called a Bavarian cream. In the chocolate charlotte recipe given here, the Bavarian cream has been replaced by a chocolate mousse.

Charlotte Russe au Chocolat
40-50 lady fingers (that number sounds iffy to me)
1/2 cup kirsch*
8 ounces good quality dark sweet cooking chocolate
1/4 cup milk
7 tablespoons butter
4 eggs (at room temperature)
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 cup heavy cream (well chilled)
Lightly butter an 8 cup charlotte mold and line the bottom with wax paper to insure quick release.
Mix the kirsch with 1/2 cup cold water in a shallow dish. Working with one boudoir at a time (you don't want to leave them lying in the alcohol or they will disintegrate), quickly roll it in the alcohol and place it standing against the side of the charlotte pan with its curved side facing outward. Line the whole pan neatly in this fashion.
Separate the eggs. Place the egg whites in a mixing bowl and have the yolks ready to add to the chocolate mixture.
Using a double boiler, heat the chocolate and milk, blending until smooth with a wooden spoon (no need to boil the water in the double boiler for this - best just to keep it at a simmer). Add in the butter, one tablespoon at a time, blending until smooth after each addition. Add in the egg yolks one at a time, blending well after each. Beat the mixture for several minutes with the wooden spoon until smooth and glossy. Remove from the heat.
Beat the egg whites until stiff and then beat in the powdered sugar.
In another bowl beat the chilled cream until it forms soft peaks (you don't want this too stiff or it is hard to blend in to the other ingredients).
Blend the chocolate mixture into the whipped cream and then fold in the egg whites. You want to end up with everything completely blended but a light hand is needed to keep things fluffy.
Pour the mousse into the prepared charlotte pan pushing on it sightly to make sure it fills the pan completely. Line the top of the pan with more boudoirs that have been briefly soaked in the kirsch mixture. You may want to add two layers of boudoirs to create a firm foundation for your chocolate mousse when you turn it over.
Cover the cake with plastic wrap and place a weight on top of it (I use a pan that is just the size of the charlotte pan and put a heavy can of beans on top). Place in the refrigerator overnight.
To serve, simply remove the plastic wrap and invert the charlotte on a serving plate. It should slide right out. Decorate as you wish - whipped cream, cherries, shaved chocolate - or just serve as is.

*You can substitute a different alcohol for the kirsch in the chocolate charlotte recipe. Grand Marnier or Kahlua are two ideas to get you started. Or substitute orange juice if you don’t like alcohol.

Lemon Charlotte Russe
18 unfilled ladyfingers, split
1 envelope unflavored gelatine
½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 eggs, separated
¼ tsp. salt
1 Sunkist® lemon grated peel
1 cup heavy cream or whipping cream, whipped
1 cup sugar
Line bottom and sides of 8- or 9 x 3-inch springform pan with ladyfingers. Soften gelatine in lemon juice.
On top of double boiler, with electric mixer, beat egg yolks well with 1/2 cup of sugar, and salt. Gradually beat in gelatine mixture. Cook over boiling water, stirring constantly, until mixture starts to thicken, about 10 minutes.
Pour into large bowl; add lemon peel. Refrigerate until mixture begins to thicken, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally (or chill over ice cubes in a larger bowl, stirring frequently, about 15 minutes).
In heavy 2-to-3-quart saucepan, stir together egg whites and remaining 1/2 cup of sugar. Over very low heat, with electric mixer, beat egg whites until soft peaks form (or beat in bowl or double boiler over simmering water).
Remove from heat and cool slightly. Fold beaten egg whites and whipped cream into lemon-gelatine mixture. Spoon into ladyfinger-lined pan.
Chill for 3 hours or overnight.
Carefully remove sides of springform pan. Garnish with lemon cartwheel slices and
Makes 12 servings


  1. Hi. Did you enjoy the book or the recipes?

  2. Hi. Did you enjoy the book or the recipes?

  3. Cathy,
    You have compiled an excellent list of recipes from To Kill a Mockingbird. I'm putting together a cookbook for my students because we read To Kill a Mockingbird. It's just a school project for the students. May I use/copy your information and include it in the cookbook compilation? You and the other sources would be credited, of course.

  4. Of course you may use the recipes! I am glad you found them useful! Good luck with the cookbook!

  5. Haha thanks you very much needed this to make a recipe book for English, appreciate you making this n publicizing it.


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