Second ‘Red Truck Bakery’ Cookbook Serves Up Sweet and Savory Recipes
This time, Brian Noyes offers 'baking with a side of cooking,' comfort foods and lessons from grandma
When Brian Noyes, owner of two Red Truck Bakery stores in northern and rural Virginia, wrote Red Truck Bakery Cookbook: Gold-Standard Recipes From America's Favorite Rural Bakery in 2018, critics and colleagues heaped praise. They loved the book, which featured recipes for decadent and much-loved cookies, cakes and pies — but they also had some suggestions.
“I had what people were not happy about in the first book, what I had left out — a lot of savory things,” Noyes says. So the baker and business owner corralled more than 95 recipes to help satiate readers with his second book, The Red Truck Bakery Farmhouse Cookbook: Sweet and Savory Comfort Food From America's Favorite Rural Bakery, published in early August. Fans can now try Potato & Pesto Flatbread, Corn Crab Cakes with Jalapeño Mayonnaise and Mid-July Tomato Pie, amid the Virginia Peanut Pie and Lexington Bourbon Cake.
“The new book is balanced — sweet and savory. It’s baking with a side of cooking,” he adds.
Noyes, known for his 1954 red Ford truck (bought from designer Tommy Hilfiger) that became the namesake of the bakery, recalls how in early 2020, the creative process was heating up in his 1850s farmhouse kitchen in Orlean, Virginia. The bakery had expanded to a second location in Virginia, and he and his architect spouse, Dwight McNeill, both had busy schedules.
Then a double surgical whammy of full shoulder replacement followed by knee replacement forced a slowdown. Noyes, 65, took time off to recover at his home in Arlington, Virginia, and soon the COVID-19 pandemic took hold.
“We didn’t know what was going to happen, so we said, 'Let’s just get out of here,'” he recalls. He and McNeill quickly packed up and headed back to the Orlean farmhouse.
“I started seeing on Instagram people cooking their way through [my] first book,” Noyes says. “Dads making peanut butter cookies with their kids. A mother and daughter in Seattle bonding over baking all the recipes together. I thought, Everybody’s coming together, so how about a family project cookbook?”
In addition to the savory and sweet recipes, Noyes mixes in his life story, especially lessons learned from his grandmother Willmana Seeley Noyes, to whose memory the book is dedicated and from whom he first learned basic kitchen techniques and more.
Noyes grew up in Pacific Grove, California, surrounded by a cornucopia of fresh fruits and vegetables and rich regional cuisine. But it was his Southern grandmother in North Carolina who instilled his desire to create comforting creations.
Cook With Brian
Noyes shared three recipes from The Red Truck Bakery Farmhouse Cookbook for AARP members to try.
Mushroom-Ricotta Lasagne With Port Sauce
This is involved and time-consuming to undertake — you’re making multiple recipes and then assembling it all, but I promise it’s worth the wait.
At the bakery, brownies are the first thing we suggest whenever someone is looking for sweet finger-food bites for a large event — it’s not much of a surprise that they are complete crowd-pleasers.
There’s a reason this won Food & Wine’s “The Best Pie in Every State” for Virginia in 2021.
“She taught me that making food is not just about feeding people, it’s about comfort and hospitality,” he says. “That is the way you show love.”
Noyes recalls that as a preteen he would fly from the West Coast to the North Carolina mountains for summertime visits, centered on the appreciation of simple Southern eating — sweet tea, collard greens, grits, stuffed pork chops and salty okra — and his grandmother’s light, fluffy biscuits.
Today, he thinks of himself as a “Californian that runs a Southern bakery.” The South has had an impact: “I embrace that [reverence for the past]. … This was a whole new world to me. I am a history buff, and it’s all right here at my feet. The South has the tradition market cornered. Families still talk about grandmothers who did it their way, for generations and generations. It’s a strong link back.”
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