Kelly Cox turns love of baking cakes into cottage business

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Photo submitted to the Observer Kelly Cox has had a love for cooking for as long as she can remember. When she started baking for a fundraiser to send daughter Wilson on a mission trip, the cakes were so popular that it led to a cottage business, Honeycomb Sweets. A variety of classic southern cakes are offered as well as “kindness cakes.”

At her home in the Northside Historic District, Kelly Cox can be found most days in the kitchen baking classic southern cakes, as well as “kindness cakes,” for her cottage business, Honeycomb Sweets. Kelly also enjoys preparing meals for her husband, Stan, headmaster at Lee-Scott, and their children.       

Kelly developed a love of cooking from both her grandmothers when she was growing up in Fort Mill, South Carolina, a small-town south of Charlotte, North Carolina. Each of her grandmothers had a garden and preserved vegetables for winter. Kelly remembers sitting on the porch with them helping to shell peas from the garden during the summer months.

Kelly uses many of her grandmothers’ recipes in baking. “I have my grandmother’s recipe for coconut cake framed in the kitchen to keep me humble,” she said, “and to help me remember the lineage of strong southern women in my family.

“I remember always loving to cook,” Kelly added, “but for me it is really not about the food. It is what the food brings to the table. It brings people together.”

After high school, Kelly attended Winthrop University, where she received a degree in education and then Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, for a master’s in community ministries. She had planned to go to a foreign mission field.

After she worked in local missions for months at a time, she accepted a position as children’s minister at a church in Montgomery. While working there, she met Stan.  “I know God sent me to Montgomery to meet him,” she said. “I had been working with AIDS patients and wanted to go to Washington, DC, but I didn’t have peace about it. I know God sent me to Montgomery to meet Stan.”

After they married, Stan was an administrator in public schools in Montgomery. As two of their children were going into the first and second grades, Philip Raley of Opelika city schools contacted Stan. They moved to Opelika in 2002 for Stan to become the principal at Opelika High School.

Kelly taught at Opelika Middle School for three years. She stopped teaching, instead taking foster care of premature babies. The Coxes did foster care for several years and adopted one of the pre-mature babies, who was addicted to drugs at birth. Braxton is now 11 years old. They also consider another child, C.J., from foster care a “heart son.”

The Coxes have two grown children. Wilson works with special needs adults at the Exceptional Foundation, while their son Parker is a police officer with the Lee County Sheriff’s Department.

About five years ago, their daughter Wilson wanted to go to Uganda with Four Corners Ministry, and they needed to raise funds for her to go. The only way Kelly saw that she could make money to participate in helping was to bake cakes to sell. She put on Facebook that she was baking pound cakes to sell for Wilson to go to Uganda.

She baked a lot of pound cakes. “People were so generous to help,” Kelly said. “If I said the pound cake was $20, they would give $25.  Once I started baking, people called to see if I could bake them a pound cake. The business evolved over time. We have chickens, so I have fresh eggs, which makes a really good pound cake.

“When the business evolved, I found myself where the kids were growing older, my big kids were finishing college and I needed something that was mine. I prayed about it.  I named it Honeycomb Sweets from a scripture in Proverbs about honey being sweet to the soul,” Kelly said.   

Two years ago, when she started her Honeycomb Sweets business, she created “kindness cakes” that people can give for gifts. She offers the cakes in three sizes, places them in boxes and delivers them. The mini kindness cakes are just $5.

Kelly makes old-fashioned, classic southern cakes, such as red velvet, chocolate layer, pound cakes and white cakes with buttercream. She doesn’t do fancy cake decorating. 

She is certified with the cottage law industry, which required taking a class. “I could probably do more with my business, but I really want to focus on my family,” Kelly said.

A year ago, she started a home bakers guild. There are 14 bakers in the guild now, and they learn from each other. Members are different ages and at different places in their lives.

With the pandemic, Kelly had problems finding flour, and friends were looking for her.  She prefers to use unbleached flour, which was harder to find. She wasn’t baking as much for a while.

Kelly also enjoys cooking for her family. She goes to farmers’ markets and prefers to cook fresh and simple. She doesn’t make many casseroles.

Last week she baked a bunch of cakes and delivered them. “The world felt so dark that I needed to make some happy tummies,” she said. “Braxton and I delivered cakes, leaving some on doorsteps. We knocked on doors and said, ‘Have a good day.’”

“It is a ministry to make people happy. It is not about the food; it is what it means to share a little sweetness.” 

“We love Opelika,” Kelly added. “It is our children’s hometown. We cannot imagine ourselves living any place else. This is our home.”

To contact Kelly, go to Honeycomb Sweets Instagram and Facebook or call 334-524-4815.

“Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” Proverbs 16:24 NIV

Ann Cipperly can be reached at recipes@cipperly.com

Brownie Meets Fudge

  • 1 cup butter
  • 2/3 cups baking cocoa
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 ½ cups self-rising flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 cups chopped pecans, optional

Combine butter, cocoa and sugar in saucepan. Cook over low heat until butter melts, stirring constantly.

Stir in flour, eggs, vanilla and pecans. Spoon into  a greased 9 x 13 pan.

Bake at 325 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.

Icing:

Work on this while brownies are baking.

  • ½ cup butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 oz. can evaporated milk
  • 2 cups chocolate chips, frozen

Combine ingredients in saucepan, except chocolate chips.

Bring to a boil. Let boil two minutes, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat.

Stir in chocolate chips until mixture is creamy.

Spread over hot brownies.

Let chill at least two hours before cutting.

Amazing served with ice cream!!!

Homemade Yellow Cake Mix

If you don’t want all the added ingredients in processed cake mixes, this is the perfect recipe for you!

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 ½ tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups milk   (I prefer to use whole buttermilk.)
  • 1 Tbsp.  vanilla
  • 1 stick butter, softened

Mix ingredients together. Pour into two greased 9-inch pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.

Can use this same recipe for cupcakes too; bake 15 minutes.

Snickerdoodle Cookies

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. cream of tartar
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • Separate bowl:
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon

Mix ingredients together. Chill  dough at least 30 minutes. Then roll into 2 Tbsp. balls. Roll each ball in the sugar and cinnamon mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees for nine minutes.

Peanut Butter Pie

  • 2 graham cracker pie crusts
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 ½ cups peanut butter
  • 2 cups confectioner sugar
  • 12 oz. Cool Whip
  • Mix cream cheese and peanut butter together.
  • Add powdered sugar. Mix well.
  • Fold in Cool Whip. Pour into pie crusts.
  • Freeze overnight.

Variations: use Oreo or chocolate graham cracker crusts. Drizzle chocolate or strawberry syrup over cut slice to dress up the pie.

Sweet Onion and Tomato Pie

  • 6 medium tomatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium Vidalia onion, chopped
  • 9 inch frozen unbaked pie shell, or make your own
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup Monterey jack or any cheese or your choosing, shredded
  • 1 cup Duke’s mayonnaise
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder

After chopping tomatoes, place in a colander to let them drain for a little while. Pat dry with paper towels.

Layer the onions and tomatoes into the frozen pie shell. Sprinkle basil, salt and pepper to taste over tomatoes. Combine cheese, mayonnaise and garlic powder. Spread over tomatoes.

Bake at 400 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with a garden salad and fresh fruit.  

Boat Lady’s Grits

I put this in a crock pot and keep warm until ready to serve. This travels well for office parties and family gatherings. Serve with warm biscuits and jam and fresh fruit.

  • 1 lb. bacon
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1 ½ cups ham, chopped
  • 28 oz. can tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 ½ cups white grits, not quick grits
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Stick of butter
  • Fry bacon, set aside.

Sauté onions and bell peppers in bacon grease; drain.

Stir in ham and sauté on low for 10 to 15 minutes.

Add tomatoes and simmer another 30 minutes.

Cook grits according to package.

Add grits to ham mixture and stir well. Add cheese and a stick of butter for good measure.

Sprinkle bacon on top.

Zucchini Bread

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 cups self-rising flour
  • 3 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 cups grated zucchini
  • 1 cup chopped pecans, optional
  • 2 tsp. vanilla

Let zucchini drain a little before adding to the flour mixture. Add all ingredients. Pour into greased loaf pans.

Bake at 325 degrees for 60 minutes.  Makes two large loaves or six small loaves.

Chocolate Bar Pie

  • 20 large marshmallows
  • 6 chocolate bars (8 oz. Hershey bars)
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 cup whipped topping (Cool Whip)
  • 1 graham cracker crust
  • Melt marshmallows and chocolate together: add milk.

Add mixture to whipped topping and pour into a graham cracker crust. Add more whipped topping to top of pie, if desired. Chill. You can use a variety of candy bars in this recipe. Hershey bars with almonds is my favorite.

Baked Corn Casserole

  • 6 slices bacon
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped onion   
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 12 oz. can corn or fresh corn
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped parsley or cilantro

Fry bacon, crumble and set aside.

Sauté onion in butter; blend in flour and salt. Gradually add sour cream and corn. Fold in half the bacon.

Spoon into 2 qt. casserole dish. Top with remaining bacon and seasonings.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes.

Note: You can use any corn you prefer. Fresh corn is amazing.

Crock Pot Macaroni

  • 8 oz. cooked pasta, drained
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups sharp cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup Velveeta cheese, cubed
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 stick butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Mix and put into crock pot. Bake for 3 hours. Stir occasionally.

Broccoli Salad

Mix marinade first:

  • 1 cup Duke’s mayonnaise
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. vinegar

Salad:

  • 1 ½ lbs. broccoli florets
  • 1 lb. bacon, cooked and chopped
  • Onions, amount depends on taste
  • Raisins, amount depends on taste

I soak my raisins in water for about half an hour, then drain water. This helps the raisins not be so hard. Miss all ingredients together. Chill and serve. Amazing side dish!

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