Cooking Up Classics

Brian Noyes cooks up comfort in The Red Truck Bakery Farmhouse Cookbook.

Photographs © 2022 by Ronni Lundy

Following the success of his first cookbook in 2018, bakery owner Brian Noyes will release a long-anticipated follow-up, The Red Truck Bakery Farmhouse Cookbook (Clarkson Potter) in August. “These are classic and, hopefully, familiar dishes made with simple local ingredients that taste like home,” he says.

Noyes rekindled his passion for cooking near the end of his 30-year career as art director for The Washington Post Magazine, The Smithsonian, House & Garden, and Preservation.  “I began baking breads, pies, and granola on Friday nights,” he says, delivering them to rural stores near his farmhouse in Orleans, Virginia.

He then trained at the Culinary Institute of America, fueled by a dream of owning a rural food business and inspired by memories of cooking with his Southern grandmother, Willmana Noyes.

Noyes opened his first Red Truck Bakery in 2009 in a renovated Esso gas station in Old Town Warrenton. Soon Oprah Winfrey, Bon Appétit, and Southern Living were singing his praises and a second Red Truck opened in Marshall.


The Red Truck Bakery Farmhouse Cookbook

Beyond the pies, cakes, cookies, and breads that made him famous, Noyes’ new book includes recipes for comfort foods like this classic summertime favorite, tomato pie.

Photographs © 2022 by Ronni Lundy

Tomato Pie 

“This pie is a stunner,” says Noyes, “best suited for the tastiest, beefiest tomatoes available.” Before baking, drain tomato slices on paper towels for five minutes, then pat dry with additional paper towels.”

  • Unbleached all-purpose flour, for dusting
  • ½ recipe (1 disk) Savory Pie & Quiche Crust (see following recipe) or 1 store-bought crust
  • 2 tablespoons cornmeal
  • 7 medium tomatoes, preferably in a variety of colors, sliced into 1/3-inch-thick rounds and drained
  • 7 cooked bacon slices, drained and cut into 1-inch pieces 
  • 16 fresh large basil leaves
  • ¾ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 ½ cups cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated, plus more for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of ground cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 3 scallions, white and green parts, chopped, plus more for garnish

Preheat oven to 350°F. Place a wire rack inside a rimmed baking sheet. Dust a work surface with flour and roll out the pie dough into a 13-inch round. Fold it gently (don’t stretch it) into a 10-inch pie plate. Trim and crimp the edges. Transfer the pie plate to the refrigerator for 20 minutes to ensure the crust is well chilled before baking. 

Remove the pie plate from the refrigerator and sprinkle the cornmeal evenly over the bottom of the crust. Layer a third of the sliced tomatoes over the cornmeal. Scatter half the bacon pieces over the tomatoes. Repeat with one more layer of each: half of the remaining sliced tomatoes and all of the basil leaves, evenly scattered on top, followed by the remaining bacon.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayo, eggs, cheddar, Parmesan, flour, cayenne, smoked paprika, and scallions. Spread the mixture evenly over the bacon layer to the crust’s crimped edges. Arrange the remaining sliced tomatoes in an attractive pattern on top of the mayo mixture.

Place the pie on top of the rack set in the baking sheet. Bake for 45-60 minutes, rotating the sheet from front to back after 30 minutes, until the pie is bubbling hot, the edges of the crust are deep golden brown, and the mayo layer has taken on some color. Let cool for 15 minutes on a wire rack before serving. If desired, garnish with more chopped scallions and Parmesan.

Makes one 10-inch pie.

Photographs © 2022 by Ronni Lundy

Savory Pie Crust

“Fresh rosemary or thyme complement the fillings in our quiches and savory pies, and we also add some cheese,” says Noyes. “This dough freezes well.

  • 3 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour, sifted, plus more as needed
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1½ sticks unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
  • ¼ cup vegetable shortening, chilled
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • ¼ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano or cheddar cheese, freshly grated
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary or thyme (or a mixture of both)
  • ½ cup cold water, plus more as needed

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Add the butter and shortening and, using your fingers, two knives, or a pastry blender, work them into the flour mixture until they are reduced to pea-size pieces.

Add the egg yolk, cheese, and rosemary, mixing until combined. Gradually add the cold water and mix just until a dough comes together. If it is crumbly, add a bit more water, 1 teaspoon at a time. If it seems sticky, add a bit more flour.

Divide the dough in half and form each half into a disk. Wrap them separately in plastic wrap or put each disk in a freezer storage bag, seal, and refrigerate for 30 minutes before using, or freeze the dough for up to 1 month, thawing it in the refrigerator for 2 hours before using.

Makes two disks, enough for two 10-inch crusts.


Noyes Birthday Cake

“For generations, this white cake was trotted out for birthdays in the Noyes family,” Brian Noyes proclaims. “Herewith, the cherished single-layer version true to the historic family recipe, although I sometimes double the recipe to make a two-layer cake.”

Photographs © 2022 by Ronni Lundy

For the Cake:

  • 1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour,
  • plus more for dusting
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 ¾ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ cup whole milk

For the Frosting:

  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 5 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped

Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease an 8-inch round pan (with 2-inch sides) with vegetable oil spray, and dust the inside evenly with flour, tapping out any excess.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the sugar and the butter on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle. Add half of the egg whites, beating well to incorporate, then the remaining half. Add the vanilla and beat to combine.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour and alternating with the milk, beating after each addition until just blended (do not overmix). The batter should be creamy and smooth.

Scrape the batter evenly into the prepared pan, smoothing the surface with a spatula. Rap the pan on the counter a few times to release any air bubbles. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the thickest part of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then carefully invert the cake onto a wire rack set over a baking sheet to cool completely. Trim the cake as needed so that it sits flat.

Meanwhile, make the frosting: In the clean bowl of a stand mixer, combine the egg whites, sugar, and salt. Fill a medium saucepan with a few inches of water, and bring it to a simmer. Place the mixing bowl over the simmering water, making sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl. Gently whisk the mixture until the egg whites are warm to the touch and the sugar has dissolved, about 5 minutes. Continue to whisk until the mixture no longer feels grainy. Keep simmering water on the stove. 

Return the bowl of warm egg mixture to the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-low speed until foamy, about 3 minutes. Gradually increase the speed and beat until shiny, stiff peaks form, about 4 minutes. Add the vanilla and beat just until combined. Frost the cake as soon as possible, smoothing the top with an offset spatula, while keeping the sides fluffy and wavy with swirls and peaks.

Place the chocolate in a separate bowl and set it over the pan of simmering water, again making sure the water doesn’t touch the bowl. Stir the chocolate just until it’s fully melted and smooth, then remove the bowl from the pan. Let cool for 1 minute, then stir once to mix. You’ll want to pour the chocolate quickly before it thickens.

Spread the melted chocolate in a large, even circle over the smooth top of the frosted cake just to the edge. You can gently nudge some of the chocolate to start spilling over the side if desired. 

“Reprinted from Red Truck Bakery Farmhouse Cookbook” Copyright © 2022 by Brian Noyes. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Random House.


Buy a copy at The BookshopThis article originally appeared in the August 2022 issue.

Konstantin Rega
A graduate of East Anglia’s renowned Creative Writing MA, Konstantin’s been published by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Poetry Salzburg Review, www.jonimitchell.com, the Republic of Consciousness Prize (etc.). He contributes to Publisher Weekly and Treblezine.
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