By GWEN SISSON
Today, Carolyn Bryan is known throughout the community for her Caramel Cakes, but her first attempt at learning her mom’s recipe her most memorable moment in the kitchen.
Bryan said her mother Eunice Payne was a very good cook who made Carmel
cake’s for a number of years and sold them. As Payne got older she was not
able to do that.
Bryan said her sister made plans to learn how to make their mother’s Caramel Cake.
“When she told me that, I knew I was not going to let her learn and not me,” Bryan said.
She said her first attempt was a disaster.
“I have scars on my arm and hand where the carmel icing dripped on them,” Bryan said. “I had my cake near the sink and I was turning it while icing the cake and it fell into the sink. Believe it or not I did master the Carmel Cake.”
And after her daughter and son left home for college at Mississippi State, she was able to truly master the art of making the carmel cake, along with working full time for Bank of Yazoo City. She actually sold around 70 cakes one Thanksgiving and Christmas.
“People would get mad if I told them I could not bake one for them,” Bryan said. “Now I do them for friends and special events for fun.”
“Carolyn Bryan is noted for her caramel cakes, but anything she bakes is wonderful,” said friend and fellow Oktoc Garden Club member, Robin Pigg. “I look forward to our meetings each month to see what Carolyn is bringing. My husband always buys a caramel cake from the bakery before they sell out.”
“Carolyn is quite famous, at least around Oktoc, for her caramel cakes,” said Anna Marie Rasberry. “She shared her wonderful recipe with me and I feel like I’ve really done something when I make one —where she makes several dozen for the Oktoc Country Store each year! Everything she cooks is so yummy and she’s always glad to share a recipe and some of her special tricks in the kitchen.”
“No one makes a caramel cake that tastes and looks as good as Carolyn Bryan’s does,” said Betty Self. “Also, everything I have ever tasted that she has cooked was delicious.”
Hellen Polk said Bryan’s caramel icing is the best she has ever tasted.
“It is also the most beautiful on her cakes,” Polk said. “It is consistently moist, and she has a real knack for spreading it professionally. I enjoy all of the dishes she shares with us at Garden Club and Community Club. She is an excellent cook.”
Nellah Taylor agrees that Bryan’s caramel icing is excellent.
“Carolyn Bryan makes the best caramel cake that I have ever eaten,” Taylor said. “The cake is so moist and good, and the caramel icing is amazing.”
Bryan’s mom was her biggest culinary influence. In addition to the caramel cake recipe, her mother enjoyed trying new recipes and so does Bryan.
And her husband’s mother was also a good cook, and after she married Joe, she shared a lot of her cooking tips. The favorite recipe that everyone in the family
liked was her chicken pie. When there was a dinner on the ground at church,
everyone was looking for Miss Louise’s chicken pie.
“Many of the dishes she made, she did not have a recipe, but before she died last year at 96, she gave me a small, hand written notebook, containing her favorite recipes, that she had accumulated over the years,” Bryan said. “I will always cherish those recipes.”
The Bryans retired from the Bank of Yazoo City in 2004. Joe was Senior Vice President for Agri/business and Trust Officer and Carolyn was Senior Vice President for Operations.
She wandered what retirement would be like and it was a scary feeling retiring from the Bank of Yazoo City after 40 years in banking.
“I really didn’t think they could run the bank without me, but I soon found out they could,” Bryan said. “The community of Oktoc have taken Joe and me in as one of their own. We have found new friends, although we miss our old ones, and are enjoying living at Oktoc.”
Her husband Joe tells everyone that Bryan is the best cook in the world.
“Which I am not, but I guess as long as he thinks I am, that’s ok,” Bryan said. “I do enjoy trying old and new recipes. When I try a recipe, whether old or new and it turns out good, it just make you feel like you have accomplished something.”
Bryan will be baking Carmel Cakes and a few other of her favorite desserts for Oktoc Country Store set for Saturday, Oct. 22 beginning at 10 a.m. at the Oktoc Community Center.
Tickets are currently on sale for the annual quilt raffle. Cookbooks are also available for sale, featuring recipes from the Oktoc community, including recipes from Mobley.
Tickets and cookbooks are on sale at Montgomery Jewelry in Starkville.
For more information about this year’s Oktoc Country Store, contact any member of the Oktoc Garden Club.
1 box Duncan Hines Golden Recipe cake mix
1 cup sour cream
1/4 heaping cup sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 heaping tablespoons self-rising flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups sugar, divided
1 cup milk
dash of salt
1 stick margarine
l teaspoon vanilla
u For the cake, combine the cake mix, sour cream, eggs, sugar oil, flour and vanilla. Mix well and pour into 4 greased and floured pans or I use pan liners. Bake at 325 degrees for about 25 minutes or until brown.
u For icing, place 1/2 cups sugar in a cast iron skillet. Mix together remaining 2 1/2 cups sugar, milk and salt in a large saucepan.
u Turn the skillet and the saucepan on high heat at the same time. Before the sugar in the skillet melts completely- be careful not to let it burn - turn the burner off and continue stirring until the sugar is golden brown.
u Pour the brown sugar into the milk mixture that is boiling. Turn the heat down to medium and cook to soft ball stage. Pour over the margarine and vanilla. Stir until smooth.
u I ice between layer while icing and cake is still warm. About 3 tablespoons between each layer. Let the remaining icing cool and continue to beat about every 10 or 15 minutes until it has lost it gloss. This time may vary. Just be sure it hard enough to stay on the cake. This cake freezes well.
1 cup sugar
1 cup white karo
4 eggs, slightly beaten
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 chopped pecans
1/3 cup margarine, melted
u Beat eggs slightly, add sugar and stir, then add karo and mix well. Stir in vanilla, margarine and pecans.
u Bake at 325 degrees for about an hour.
Almond Brickle Fruit Dip
1 (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1 (8 oz) pkg. almond brickle(toffee bits)
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
u Stir together all ingredients until well blended. Serve with sliced apples, pears or any fruit of you choosing. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Ms Louise’s Chicken Pie
This is the way she had written It in the little notebook
A big fryer cut in serving pieces cover with plenty of water and salt. Boil until chicken is tender. Take chicken off bones which has been taken out of broth. Have about 5 cups of broth add enough water to make that much. Add 1 stick margarine plenty black pepper and salt. Make up dough like you were making biscuit. I like to use self -rising flour for this pie. Roll a piece of dough larger than a pie crust for dumplings cut in small pieces and drop in broth which is boiling. When dumplings are done lower heat and roll out your dough for top crust to put over chicken and dumplings. Put chicken over dumplings. Cover with crust and bake in hot oven until brown.