Tonya Thomas might be best known for her sweet potato sticky bun biscuit, or her plantain honey biscuit with a sumac glaze—they sell hot and fast from her pop-up at the Baltimore Farmers’ Market & Bazaar on Sundays. But the Maryland native, who is the executive pastry chef and partner at H3irloom Food Group, prefers to keep things seasonal at the culinary organization’s ticketed dinners, catering events, and pop-ups around the state.
“When peach season arrives, I like to come up with everything and anything possible to make with them,” Thomas says. She and her husband, David, previously opened the Maryland dining spots Herb & Soul Gastro Café and Ida B’s Table, but in 2020, they pivoted to cofound the all Black-run H3irloom, with a mission to uplift the Black food narrative, including through supporting sustainable farming initiatives and buying local.
For this summer peach spoon bread recipe, Thomas puts a twist on the often-savory Southern soul food classic. “I have been known for my bread pudding, but I thought that a spoon bread would be a nice change,” she says. “It gives a more custard feeling, but with texture because of the cornmeal.” Thomas’s version is meant for dessert, thanks to twelve fresh peaches, brown sugar, a peach caramel sauce, and a buttermilk whipped cream topping. The result nods to her great-grandmother’s penchant for always having a pudding on the table. “Part of my mission,” she explains, “is to provide a deeply personal approach to the Black food experience that’s rooted in history and culture.”