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Sugar & Spice: Southern Kitchen presents the art, culture and science of holiday sweets

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The oven is warm. The kitchen is dusted with flour. Jars of colored sprinkles line the counter. Christmas baking season has arrived. Southern Kitchen is here for you.

We asked some of the region's top bakers for recipes guaranteed to make your holidays a little bit sweeter. Read on as they share their secret ingredients, tips and tricks to help you conquer the cookie party.

Take your classic Christmas cookies to the next level

Take your classic Christmas cookies to the next level

Cheryl Day

Baker Cheryl Day stands holding a cake

Cheryl Day, who runs Back in the Day bakery in Savannah, Georgia, said that holiday baking does not need to be stressful. "My best advice is to work in advance," she said. Read more of Day's sweet secrets here.

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Dwayne Ingraham

A portrait of Dwayne Ingraham

Alabama-based pastry chef Dwayne Ingraham makes next-level chocolate chip cookies with special chocolate and some specific parameters for sugar. Read more here.

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Lisa Marie White

Lisa Marie White holds a gingerbread ornament.

Nashville pastry chef Lisa Marie White's gingerbread is the stuff of legend. Learn her tricks here.

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Sarah Gonzalez

Sarah Gonzalez shows off a cinnamon bun

Tennessee baker Sarah Gonzalez makes classic cinnamon buns with cream cheese icing. When she still had a bakery, people would line up around the block to buy those buns. Make them at home.

The culture of holiday sweets

The culture of holiday sweets

In some families, holiday recipes become part of the seasonal culture. Sweets and their stories get passed down through generations. Here are some of our favorite holiday tales involving sugar, spice and everything nice.

A Cajun Christmas treat

Lynore Harding makes sweet dough pies

In Cajun Country, sweet dough pies are part of the culture. For those who grew up in South Louisiana, they also evoke sweet thoughts of holidays past.

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Chinese New Year

Almond cookies

Sally Chow's Chinese sponge cake is perfect for the Lunar New Year celebrations that bring together family and friends in Chow's hometown of Cleveland, Mississippi. Read how Chinese recipes have been adapted in the South.

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Jewish family baking traditions

A plate of Pecan Dream cookies sit next to a cookbook

Mary Kanowitz wanted a Hanukkah treat she could make with her young children. A recipe that she cooked with her grandmother provided the solution. Read how one Memphis family found a pecan cookie recipe as 'old as the hills'

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Yule logs

A yule log on a sliver platter.

A bûche de Noël sets an elegant tone as a modern-day holiday centerpiece, but the origins of the intricately designed cake are centuries old. Read how an Asheville bakery interprets this winter tradition

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Endure Athletics

A woman holds a plate of decorated cookies.

Endure Athletics is a nonprofit bringing sports to kids who don't have access to organized athletics. Read how one Murfreesboro family makes sugar cookies for their Endure Athletics families

The science of cookies

The science of cookies

What does baking soda really do? How about baking powder? Are they interchangeable? Does it matter what kind of sugar you use? And what happens if I use melted butter instead of soft, room-temperature butter?

We'll help you answer all of these questions and more with food scientists and chefs, as well as help you figure out how to tailor your baking to fit your preferences using sweet, sweet science.

What does that ingredient do?

A bowl of brown sugar and a bowl of white sugar.

So what’s that ingredient do? Lesa Tran Lu and Katie Button both have plenty of training in science, but they're also no slouches in the kitchen. Here, they'll explain how to master your next cookie project.

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Building blocks of cookies

Chocolate chip cookies

Wonder what the building blocks of the perfect chocolate chip cookie look like? We'll show you so you can knock Santa's socks off. Read more.

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