Food & Drink

Grilled Peach Spoon Bread with Buttermilk Whipped Cream

Celebrate peach season with a sweet twist on a soul food classic

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. 

Tonya Thomas.

“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.”



  • For the spoon bread:

    • 12 fresh peaches

    • 2½ cups whole milk

    • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

    • 2 tsp. kosher salt

    • 2 tbsp. light brown sugar

    • 1 cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal

    • 3 large eggs, separated

    • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon

    • ¼ tsp. ground cardamom

    • ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg


    • 1 cup heavy whipping cream

    • ½ cup buttermilk

    • ¼ tsp. salt

    • 2 tbsp. granulated sugar


    • ¾ cup granulated sugar

    • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened and cut into tablespoons

    • 2 tbsp. heavy whipping cream, room temperature

    • ⅓ to ½ cup peach purée (see spoonbread recipe)

    • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

    • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon

    • ½ tsp. sea or kosher salt


  1. For the spoon bread:

    Take five peaches, slice into wedges with skin on, and place to the side. Peel and slice remaining seven peaches into wedges and keep separate. On an outdoor or stovetop grill, heat all peaches, keeping them separated. Grill on each side to produce grill marks, about 1-2 minutes, depending on the ripeness of the peaches.  

  2. Place the seven peeled peaches into a processor or blender to create a purée.

  3. Preheat oven to 350°F. Bring milk, butter, salt, and brown sugar to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat, gradually whisk in cornmeal, and simmer, stirring until thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat; whisk in 1 cup of the purée.

  4. Whisk egg yolks, cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg in a large bowl. Whisk in cornmeal mixture; set aside.

  5. Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites in a medium bowl until soft peaks form. Whisk ¼ of egg whites into batter, then gently fold in remaining egg whites. Pour half the batter into a 9×5” loaf pan or similar size baking dish. Place half of the grilled peaches on top of batter. Pour in the remaining batter. Arrange remaining peaches on top. Bake until spoon bread is set and begins to pull away from sides of the pan, 30-40 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.

  6. Top with peach caramel and buttermilk whipped cream (below). 

  7. For the buttermilk whipped cream:

    Add the whipping cream, buttermilk, salt, and sugar into a medium-size bowl and beat on high with a hand mixer or stand mixer until stiff peaks are formed, about 3 to 4 minutes.

  8. Keep buttermilk whipped cream refrigerated until ready to use.

  9. For the peach caramel sauce:

    Place the sugar in the bottom of a heavy, deep saucepan and heat over medium heat. As the sugar melts, start whisking. As soon as all of the sugar is a light amber color, remove from the heat and carefully add the butter and whisk until melted (do not heat until a dark amber, because it will keep cooking.) 

  10. Carefully and slowly add the cream and peaches. Whisk to incorporate. Whisk in the vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. Let cool slightly. Serve with spoon bread.

  11. If you wish to store it, let it cool in the pan for a few minutes, and then transfer to a heat-proof container. Cool to room temperature before storing in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. When ready to use, warm before serving.

  12. Note: If your caramel clumps up when adding the cream, put it back over low heat and carefully whisk until smooth again.