A way with mayo: Cookbook uses Duke’s for recipes including stunning sweets

Duke's Confetti Cake was created for the classic condiment's 100th birthday, in 2017. Duke's mayonnaise is the invention of Eugenia Thomas Duke, a Columbus, Ga., native who used the sauce to make sandwiches for World War I soldiers. STYLING BY WENDELL BROCK / CONTRIBUTED BY CHRIS HUNT PHOTOGRAPHY

Credit: Chris Hunt

Credit: Chris Hunt

Duke's Confetti Cake was created for the classic condiment's 100th birthday, in 2017. Duke's mayonnaise is the invention of Eugenia Thomas Duke, a Columbus, Ga., native who used the sauce to make sandwiches for World War I soldiers. STYLING BY WENDELL BROCK / CONTRIBUTED BY CHRIS HUNT PHOTOGRAPHY

Duke’s mayonnaise is having a moment. Some might say it has been for some time.

A tangy condiment with a cult following, Duke’s was invented in 1917 by Columbus, Georgia, native Eugenia Duke. By then married and living in Greenville, South Carolina, the entrepreneurial home cook slathered her sauce onto sandwiches she sold to World War I soldiers training nearby. It wasn’t long before Duke’s smooth, luscious mayo eclipsed her pimento-cheese, egg-salad, and chicken-salad sandwiches in popularity — causing her to turn her coveted condiment into a separate business, which she sold to Richmond, Virginia-based C.F. Sauer Co. in 1929.

Today, Duke’s mayo is a super-condiment: It wears its red “smooth & creamy” ribbon on its label like a cape. It’s sold in 42 states, beloved by James Beard Award-winning chefs and everyday spreaders. Squishy white bread, juicy tomatoes, a hefty dab of Duke’s: It’s the holy trinity of the summertime tomato-sandwich.

Everybody has a favorite brand of mayo, be it Hellmann’s, Miracle Whip, Kraft. Legions are fanatical about Duke’s. One of them just wrote a cookbook on it.

“We stand firmly by our jar of Duke’s,” Ashley Strickland Freeman says of her region’s pride in Duke’s. Originally from Savannah, now a Charleston dweller, Freeman is the author of “The Duke’s Mayonnaise Cookbook: 75 Recipes Celebrating the Perfect Condiment,” newly out from Grand Central Publishing ($28).

Ashley Strickland Freeman’s “The Duke’s Mayonnaise Cookbook” (Grand Central Publishing, $28) finds new uses for a condiment that's been around for more than 100 years.

Credit: Contributed

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Credit: Contributed

In her love letter to a sauce, Freeman, 38, puts a personal twist on many of the usual savory suspects: BLTs; chicken salad; deviled eggs; tomato pie. Not surprisingly, Duke’s appears in many of her salads (German Potato Salad with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette; Israeli Couscous and Broccoli Salad; New-School Waldorf Salad) and sandwiches (Buffalo Chicken Sliders with Blue Cheese Sauce; Pork Banh Mi with Spicy Mayo; Oyster Po’Boys with Creole Remoulade).

In what may come as a surprise to some, Freeman also makes the case that Duke’s is a smooth operator in waffles, crepes, and breakfast baked goods (Blueberry Streusel Muffins; Earl Grey Scones; Bananas Foster Bread With Browned Butter-Rum Glaze). And a dandy stand-in for butter or oil in fussier Sticky Toffee Puddings; Strawberry-Rhubarb Layer Cake; and Mom’s Apple Pie.

Charleston-based Ashley Strickland Freeman is the author of “The Duke’s Mayonnaise Cookbook” (Grand Central Publishing, $28).

Credit: Contributed

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Credit: Contributed

“I love using it in baking,” Freeman said, praising Duke’s ability to ensure superior pie crusts in particular. “Duke’s is kind of like my buffer: It keeps the moisture in. It makes the crumb super tender.”

In her Blackberry and Peach Crisp (which can be modified to incorporate most any fruit), she summons Duke’s to bind the topping. While butter melts in the oven, Duke’s is just the thing to hold flour, brown sugar, oats and cinnamon in bite-size clumps. I tried it, and it’s a stellar crisp.

In "The Duke's Mayonnaise Cookbook" (Grand Central Publishing, $28), Georgia native Ashley Strickland Freeman crafts a summer crisp from peaches and blackberries. "So many fruits would work in place of the peaches and blackberries here if they're in season," Freeman writes. "You can also use thawed frozen fruit if you'd like." We chose peaches and blueberries. Duke's mayo is used to bind the brown sugar-oatmeal topping. STYLING BY WENDELL BROCK / CONTRIBUTED BY CHRIS HUNT PHOTOGRAPHY

Credit: Chris Hunt

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Credit: Chris Hunt

I have to admit I grew up thinking mayo was suitable only for cold foods. When somebody told me to try it in mashed potatoes, I blanched. Hot mayo? I don’t think so. Slather it on the outside of grilled cheese? No way.

In fact, boiled potatoes will only absorb so much milk and butter. After that, a dollop or two of utilitarian mayo is ideal for pulling the spuds together. When griddling sandwiches, butter can burn quickly. Mayo, on the other hand, has longevity in the skillet, evincing a wonderful golden-brown sheen that’s not too greasy to the touch.

Atlanta chef Todd Ginsberg — who relies on Duke’s for innumerable dishes at the General Muir, Fred’s Meat & Bread, and Wood’s Chapel BBQ — says the brand is as much about emotion as flavor. “I want to taste the same thing that people have been tasting on their tomato and white bread sandwiches for decades,” he says. “It’s got a really, really solid good flavor, and it’s just nostalgia, part of representing yourself in the South.”

RECIPES

Here are three sweet treats to make with mayo: doughnuts, an easy fruit crisp and a show-stopping confetti cake. If you’re looking for savory applications, Ashley Strickland Freeman’s “The Duke’s Mayonnaise Cookbook” is a terrific resource, as is the recipe database on the Duke’s website.

In "The Duke's Mayonnaise Cookbook" (Grand Central Publishing, $28), Georgia native Ashley Strickland Freeman crafts a summer crisp from peaches and blackberries, but she's flexible about which fruits you can use. We chose peaches and blueberries. Duke's mayo is used to bind the brown sugar-oatmeal topping. STYLING BY WENDELL BROCK / CONTRIBUTED BY CHRIS HUNT PHOTOGRAPHY

Credit: Chris Hunt

icon to expand image

Credit: Chris Hunt

Blackberry and Peach Crisp

“A lot of my friends who don’t cook have made this, and they love it,” says author Ashley Strickland Freeman. Feel free to improvise on the fruit; we paired Georgia peaches and blueberries. As Freeman points out, you may also use thawed frozen fruit.

Adapted from “The Duke’s Mayonnaise Cookbook: 75 Recipes Celebrating the Perfect Condiment” by Ashley Strickland Freeman (Grand Central Publishing, $28)

Duke's Confetti Cake was created for the classic condiment's 100th birthday, in 2017, but you can whip it up for any occasion that could use a colorful touch. STYLING BY WENDELL BROCK / CONTRIBUTED BY CHRIS HUNT PHOTOGRAPHY

Credit: Chris Hunt

icon to expand image

Credit: Chris Hunt

Duke’s 100th Birthday Confetti Cake

This festive, two-layer cake was created for the classic condiment’s centennial, in 2017. It makes for a marvelous special occasion show-stopper, especially if you top if off with scads of sparkly sprinkles. That said, the rich creamy frosting is very good without the sugary crunch.

Adapted from Duke’s website.

Ashley Strickland Freeman's Old-Fashioned Doughnuts with Mixed-Berry Glaze require mayo for the batter. These are soft and crumbly cake doughnuts, not the light and puffy yeast version, a wonderful treat with coffee. The recipe is included in Freeman's "The Duke's Mayonnaise Cookbook" (Grand Central Publishing, $28). STYLING BY WENDELL BROCK / CONTRIBUTED BY CHRIS HUNT PHOTOGRAPHY

Credit: Chris Hunt

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Credit: Chris Hunt

Old-Fashioned Doughnuts with Mixed-Berry Glaze

Mayo gives cakes a soft, tender crumb, so why not use it in homey cake doughnuts? These sugar bombs are a delight with a cup of coffee or glass of milk.

Adapted from “The Duke’s Mayonnaise Cookbook: 75 Recipes Celebrating the Perfect Condiment” by Ashley Strickland Freeman (Grand Central Publishing, $28).

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