Southern Pecan Bread

Southern Pecan Bread is an old-fashioned Southern treat that is buttery and chock full of pecans and great for pot lucks or barbecues. Trust me, it’s a bread in name only; these are sweet, rich bars perfect for coffee or dessert!

Southern Pecan Bread Served on a Plate with a Cup of Coffee

I have so much stuff to unpack for this post today but bear with me; this Southern Pecan Bread is worth getting to! I’ve had a month of one traumatic event after the other and then my first effort baking made my heart sink…enough already!

To start, I was the reluctant owner of an orange long hair tabby cat. Peyton was left with me to watch for two weeks in January of 2014 when he was about nine years old. When the owner bailed on their promise to find him a new home, he became a member of my household.

It was not without a certain amount of me howling at the moon since I did not want a cat, much less a long hair cat. Still, his demeanor and his very obvious fear of strangers would not let me take him and dump him at the pound; I was pretty sure how that would turn out.

So he’s been my cat for 5 years and if I’m honest it was never an easy road for me. I had moved into a brand new home and some of that howling was because of the long hair everywhere. More maybe when he decided that a litter box was not always where he felt it was necessary to travel to when he needed to poop; my morning duty was a ritual of walking through the house looking for those ‘gifts!’

But he grew on me and I saw slow but continuous changes for the better. It took him two years to sit next to me on the sofa and another before he would sleep in his cat bed on my bed…but he steadily grew more confident and by year three he was definitely enamored of me and yes, I of him.

He would not come to me anywhere but my office or bedroom and he never let me pick him up but he would start crying about 8pm for me to come into my bedroom, his safe space. In there he would butt my hand and let me know that petting time should commence. He liked to fall asleep with his little head in my hand…it really was sweet.

A few weeks ago he did something so strange, so completely out of character when he turned while I was petting him and sort of mouthed my hand. I pulled it away but it seemed he had developed an interest in my hand that started to make me uncomfortable. Then one fateful night, after I had pulled my hands under the covers because of how he was staring at them, he spotted my wrist that was not protected and bounded across the bed and sunk his teeth in.

That was the beginning of the end. In short order, my entire forearm was ravaged with a serious infection that took me almost 2 weeks to eradicate and I suffered through a tetanus shot and an antibiotic shot every other day for a week on top of oral and topical antibiotics. I also made a vet appointment; there is a local vet that does house calls that I thought would be more comfortable for him.

He continued to act strange and I was attributing it to cataracts, thinking he was having a problem with his eyesight. The evening before the vet visit he tried to attack my wrist again and by this time I was pretty anxious. I will not post a photo of my arm but if you saw it, you would understand…it was serious enough that I was almost hospitalized.

The vet came and we talked at length before having her meet him; I shared with her the erratic behavior I was witnessing. I also showed her a photo I had just taken of Peyton and she knew right away what the problem was…she noticed a dark, almost hollow looking spot in his left eye and it only cemented what she had been thinking. My beautiful boy had either a brain tumor or infection and he was suffering and acting out as a result.

The decision was made to put him down and I have to admit I sure bawled like a baby at losing the cat I did not want. He was a testimony to years of patience and love and I always felt that despite my misgivings I was glad he ended up here with me. I have a quiet home and he found a safe place where he had nothing to fear and where he knew that his human loved him. I had no doubt he loved me.

He was the sweetest, most gentle cat I have ever known. I would like to think I gave him a good retirement villa for his last years…RIP Peyton, you are missed buddy.

Southern Pecan Bread made in a red glass baking dish.

I went through some down time on the blog for sure but working in the kitchen has always been my salvation and I was looking forward to getting back into the groove. First I wanted to do some re-arranging of some furniture pieces in my studio and get a setup that I liked better.

My fabulous neighbor Sam, who I call the son I never had, came over one day to help me do what I called ‘musical tables.’ We took apart a big table in my studio that was just too much and put it in his car for Goodwill.

Then we moved the table that used to be in the studio back into that space, all newly painted. Last but not least there was a dresser I had bought that was in my Explorer. It had to be moved inside to the family room to replace the table. No big deal; Sam and I are a good team. He’s big and strong and I’m bossy. 🙂

I spent the next day fine tuning lots of storage and when I was almost done I decided to move that table into my studio closer to the wall. A quick easy thing. Until it wasn’t. I felt a twinge and knew I had pulled something but it wasn’t too bad. Yet. Long story short that twinge soon became a real ‘pain in the back’ and I’ve just spent ten days laying on a heating paid and downing Ibuprofen and today I’m finally able to rally this poor body out of bed without literally crying first.

I’ve done this before. THIRTY years ago…guess the good thing is maybe I won’t do it again for thirty more? I knew Progressive Eats was scheduled for today and thought I might have to bail for the first time ever but the theme from our host is Southern Foods; I have a ten year history of living in the South and really wanted to participate. 

Luckily I found an old favorite and it’s easy to make so I’m feeling pretty accomplished right now. As accomplished as anyone can feel who bakes at 6,200 feet up in the air…it’s horrid!

When I lived further north in Denver metro my home was at 5,200′ – the Mile High City you’ve heard of. No one told me that moving to the most Southern suburb would add a thousand feet to that height; I just found out last year and yes, it is more of a struggle. So to be honest, I made these bars twice; the first batch I gave away and the second were better but still not perfect.

Southern Pecan Bread on a tiered serving dish.

Want to know what high altitude does? Our thinner air means that baked goods rise faster and when they do, the baking does not keep up with solidifying the structure so they get to a point where they just fall. So it’s a science of knowing how much less leavening to use, how much more flour…adding a bit of water and then sometimes turning up the oven a bit to fasten the hold of the structure.

First time I failed miserably but mostly because I used a metal pan so second time around I found a glass baking pan and removed a bit more leavening from the recipe and while better, sure not perfect but honestly? Good enough. See that minor ski slope? Here in Denver that’s most often the norm! The recipe that I include is NOT for high altitude, it’s for the rest of the world, so I just modify it for me and it usually works out. Cakes are easier than cupcakes which are easier than bars and then there are poor cookies. My cookies always look like a bas relief project!

That being said this is called Southern Pecan Bread. Yes, bread. Southerners are funny sometimes with the naming business.  This is a sweet bar more like a brownie/cookie combination…nothing bread-like about it. Except it’s hard to eat just one slice?

I have no doubt they must have named another favorite of mine, the Strawberry Pretzel Salad. With a salty and sweet pretzel crust and layers of whipped cream and strawberries, that sucker is no salad, it’s a full on dessert and a really good one at that! That happened more than once when we attended events in Raleigh…guess Southerners just love their sweets but want to pretend they’re eating salad? 🙂

Still these tasted just as I remembered them; lovely and buttery and simply chock full of pecans. Easy to make too; no mixer is even required. Yours just won’t look like a ski slope!

For more Southern inspired foods, please join me and my friends for Progressive Eats, our monthly foodfest featuring all foods redolent of the South with none of them to be missed!

Progressive Eats

Welcome to Progressive Eats, our virtual version of a Progressive Dinner Party. Each recipe in our menu this month features food from the South, and our host is Karen who blogs at Karen’s Kitchen Stories.

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, a progressive dinner involves going from house to house, enjoying a different course at each location. With Progressive Eats it’s a virtual party. A theme is chosen each month, members share recipes suitable for a delicious meal or party, and you can hop from blog to blog to check them out. Come along and see all of the delicious dishes from the South!

Food from The South

Cocktails

Appetizers

Bread

  • Southern Pecan Bread – Creative Culinary (You’re Here!)

Main Courses

Side Dishes

Desserts

PIN ‘Southern Pecan Bread’

Southern Pecan Bread slices served on a white plate with a cup of coffee.

Southern Pecan Bread Served on a Plate with a Cup of Coffee
Print Recipe
4.6 from 10 votes

Southern Pecan Bread

An old Southern recipe that is really closer to a bar cookie than a bread...but who cares, they are fantastic!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time35 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course: Cookies, Brownies and Bars
Cuisine: American
Keyword: bars, bread, breakfast, cookies, dessert, pecan, southern, sweets
Servings: 30 bars
Calories: 191kcal
Author: Creative Culinary

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 4 eggs beaten
  • ½ cup melted butter
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 cups chopped pecans - divided

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray and flour a 9x13 baking dish; line the bottom with parchment paper and lightly grease.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, combine sugar, brown sugar, eggs, butter, and oil until smooth. Gently stir in flour and vanilla. Finally, mix in 1 & 1/2 cups chopped pecans.
  • Pour mixture into prepared baking dish.
  • Sprinkle the remaining (1/2 cup) chopped pecans on top
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes until lightly browned
  • Cool in pan and cut into squares to serve

Nutrition

Serving: 18 | Calories: 191kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 33mg | Sodium: 99mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 13g

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31 Comments

  1. They look amazing.. I am sorry for peyton it makes me cry..!! I am so sorry you had to go through all of this. I am very happy that you are back in the kitchen

    1. Of course I looked at the post again and it made me teary eyed too; he was such a sweet boy. Those last 10 days were hard and his behavior so out of character. I’m grateful I could offer him those five years of happiness because I do think he was a happy if elusive boy!

  2. Hi Barb! I love pecans! Thank you for sharing this recipe and your story. I bake for family as well for outreach programs for our church…I love having an outlet for my baking passion, since the kids moved out and it is just my husband and me. Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. I hope your efforts avoid the ski slope that Colorado elevation always brings… but guess it sounds about right for our ski loving state! I loved these, it had been too long!

  3. Such a beautiful recipe and such a beautiful tribute to Peyton. My first cat was a cat I didn’t want and now I can’t imagine life without one. So glad you’re doing better!

    1. Ah so you know! I fought it for a long time but obviously he won me over. I missed having a pet that was super friendly but Spot fit that bill for me and I was just happy to see Peyton adjust and be happy…that meant everything. He was such a sweet soul; he deserved that.

  4. Oh no, I’m so sorry to hear about Peyton. I do remember his fear of strangers, but he was such a sweet cat. Madison recently asked about you and your cat, and now I’m going to have to tell her that he’s gone. I still can’t comprehend it myself. Here’s to much peace and comfort for the remainder of 2019.

  5. so sorry you are going through this Barb but how therapeutic to share and to turn to the kitchen to work through the emotions. The pecans are the star of this “bread” and I can tell I would love it. Peyton’s memory will always be a blessing and your love for him was/is a gift.

  6. These look wonderful! If my husband and I weren’t both allergic to pecans, I’d be wanting your high altitude version. It really does make a difference, doesn’t it. Even a 1000 feet change makes a difference I found. Our last home here at Tahoe was around 6300′, and I got a lot of my recipes dialed in to that altitude. And then we moved to 7100′. I was really surprised at the difference it makes, and had to adjust everything all over again. Luckily I love to bake, as I know you do too 🙂

  7. I live with a cat whisperer and we’ve had our share of strays decide that this will be their home. Peyton was so lucky to have you and the safe haven you created for him. I’m so sorry to hear about your arm and back, it’s been a tough month for you! Thank you for sharing this beautiful recipe – I can’t wait to try it!

    1. I”m sure not the cat whisperer; I definitely would call myself a dog person. But I do love animals and it was clear he needed someone to love him. Funny story. He got out once; I had the door in front open for a bunch of neighbors dropping by and I’m guessing he made a run for it. I didn’t notice so much at night because he was often doing his own thing but I knew something was awry in the morning. I posted a photo on our neighborhood FB group and a neighbor a few blocks away said she thought she had seen him and posted the photo she took. She was on her way to work so I spent the day going over there every half hour and calling him…but nothing.

      She promised to continue looking when she got home from work and she and her hubs decided to take a walk around the block looking for him. They didn’t get far when she noticed him hiding under a bench on their porch. She called I ran over and Jane, his response was pathetic. As soon as he saw me he started wailing like I had never heard; even let me come pick him up. He cried and cried and it continued after we got home for at least a half hour. It was obviously a traumatic night…he has ALWAYS been a housecat. The next couple of weeks he would not let me out of his site and I guess the one good thing…he never did that again!

      I honestly had no idea he was THAT connected to me but one night away and it did change his demeanor; he let me know I was his person!

  8. There you go, making me cry! I’m so sorry you had to go through all of this. I’m happy you’re back in the kitchen, and I’m glad you could join me!

    1. Reading everyone’s sweet comments got me a bit teary too. It was such a whirlwind mess that it’s just now sinking in. He was a sweet, sweet boy; I’m just glad I got to give him a last home where he was happy.

  9. This makes me sad all over again for what you had to do, what both of you went through. You’re a good human, Barb. And the Pecan bread looks tasty. I wish I was back in a mood to spend time in the kitchen. Recipes like this really make me miss it. It would be wonderful with my coffee right now.

    1. Aw thanks Kelly; I won’t deny I make an effort to be just that!

      I’m on a very limited schedule; this back thing has been bad enough I’m taking my time. So I made something really easy and equally easy to eat. I like it’s called bread; gave me an excuse to have some for breakfast with coffee. 🙂

  10. So sorry about Peyton. I know the trauma of losing a beloved pet and I feel for you. I can also appreciate how getting into the kitchen helps with the recovery of some sense of balance. And what a wonderful result! this pecan bread looks positively scrumptious. It’s got just the right balance for me between sweet and simple (letting the taste of the pecans shine through.) Definitely a winner in my book.

    1. It has been traumatic; in so many other ways he seemed so healthy so it was a shock but I guess the real shock was the bite. It was so far out of the realm of his behavior that I knew something was awry; he had never ever done anything like that. I’m glad he was my boy for a couple of years; I know he felt loved and safe here; that was a good retirement.

  11. So sorry about Peyton. We love cats, but some of them do have issues, particularly when they get older. We always have a vet come to look at our cat, too — she doesn’t do well at the vet’s. And sorry about your back! Hope 2019 gets much, much better for you!

    1. It HAS to improve doesn’t it? I feel like I lost a month and my blog sure shows it. He was a character and I think I was most happy that such an older cat could actually change; it was slow but it was constant and I know he felt loved. That this was his last memory? I’m good with that.

  12. Can you share with us, who also live at high altitude, the adjustments you make for your high altitude version?

    Sounds delicious

    thanks

  13. This looks wonderful! Thank you for powering through the pain to share. And, thank you for loving Peyton. You gave him everything he needed. You gave him all he wanted. You were his hero.

    1. I do think he was as happy as he had ever been…it took some time getting there but it was lovely to feel that he had found a happy place.

  14. Thank you for sharing Peyton with us over the last five years. ❤️
    For old time sake, Peyton!

    Yay for Southern recipes!!

    1. Oh you are most welcome; I’m glad I made it a part of my sharing; he was quite the character and maybe even more important, it was an exercise in the power of love and how it transformed him. He was never going to be hanging on me but he absolutely let me know he needed me. I’m a dog person…we need that part!

  15. I’ve never tasted these before, but they look (and sound!) amazing. I’m so sorry about Peyton (and your back!), but glad you’re back in the kitchen. xo

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