Darnell Reed
Photos: Jeff Marini

When the stay-at-home order hit in march, Darnell Reed, the chef-owner of Luella’s Southern Kitchen, kept his Lincoln Square restaurant open for carryout and delivery but cut the hours. Finding himself spending more time at home, he did what so many of us did — tied on an apron and started baking.

Since Luella’s opened in 2015, Reed’s baked offerings have mostly been accompaniments like beignets, biscuits, and cornbread. But this spring, after his at-home dabbling yielded great results, he decided to expand his repertoire, and in July he opened a pop-up within Luella’s and named it Baye’s Little Bakery.

“I wanted to make baked goods with unique flavors that people can only find with us, while staying true to our Southern roots,” Reed says. That means unabashedly rich desserts like hummingbird cake (a pineapple, banana, and pecan cake with cream cheese frosting), deep-dish sweet potato pie, pecan pralines, butter pecan sandwich cookies with brown buttercream, and fried cherry pie.

But the dessert that best sums up what Reed is doing at Baye’s is the grunt, an old-fashioned fruit cobbler that uses biscuits as the topping. Reed gives his a twist, topping rich blackberry compote with sweet potato biscuits, drizzling them with caramel, and dusting it all with powdered sugar. “It’s great served warm with a scoop of ice cream,” he says. Up next: peach pandowdy, a rustic cobbler with baked peaches under a layer of pie dough.

Baking also forced Reed to brush up on math and science. “It’s absolutely taken me out of my comfort zone,” he says. Thankfully, the rest of us will find comfort to spare. 4609 N. Lincoln Ave., Lincoln Square. Orders must be placed in advance via luellassouthernkitchen.com and picked up at the restaurant.

Hummingbird cake, grunt (fruit cobbler), and sandwich cookies
Clockwise from top: Hummingbird cake, grunt (fruit cobbler), and sandwich cookies

Three More Places to Find Southern Treats

Abundance Bakery

The bakery case is filled with old-fashioned baked goods, from peach cobbler to red velvet cake. No matter what you order, be sure to add on an apple fritter.
105 E. 47th St., Bronzeville

Big Jones

The low country restaurant puts creative spins on puddings — try the bourbon-laced bread version or a warm banana number piled high with vanilla cookies and custard and topped with Italian meringue.
5347 N. Clark St., Andersonville

Brown Sugar Bakery

Stephanie Hart is famous for her four-layer caramel cake, a traditional Southern favorite. (Stay tuned for the release of Hart’s cake mixes at her shops later this year.)
328 E. 75th St., Greater Grand Crossing