I love American baking because it’s so varied, brash and unapologetically tasty. There’s no room for modesty and restraint, but that doesn’t mean your American bakes need to be low-quality, make sure to use good quality ingredients.
Red Velvet: I couldn’t compile any list without including Red Velvet Cake. This has been the most popular flavour we’ve sold at The Hummingbird Bakery, and I owe this deep red cake a lot of gratitude! It’s not just a vanilla sponge dyed red! Instead, it’s a mild chocolate sponge, made tangy with buttermilk and cream cheese frosting. If you’re making this at home, natural red colouring won’t work as it’ll turn your sponge terracotta.
Pecan Pie: my cousin-in-laws in Durham, North Carolina made me the most amazing pecan pie for Thanksgiving one year and I was hooked. Add a slug of Bourbon to the filling when mixing it for an extra special flavour kick.
Chocolate Chip Cookies: I sit on the chewy side of the fence when it comes to chocolate chip cookies. To achieve this, take them out when the middles are still a touch under baked. Leave them to cool completely, and you’ll have perfectly chewy cookies.
Brownies: real American brownies are relatively thin, chewy and have a crumb to them. I see a lot of pseudo-brownies out there, which although good, aren’t the real thing!
Blueberry Muffins: I always make sure to eat proper blueberry muffins when I’m visiting the USA. Blueberries there are just so juicy and flavourful. Don’t worry about the berries sinking, that’s normal!
Black Bottom Cupcakes: I’m a chocaholic, so these appealed to me the first time I saw them in a bakery in New York. When we started to make them, my colleague, Joanne, who still works with me, decided to top with cream cheese frosting and made them even better!
Brooklyn Blackout Cake: In the USA, chocolate “pudding’ is something you eat out of a tin, it’s like a chocolate custard. This cake uses that moreish filling, which is easily made at home, but needs some elbow grease. The original cake was made by the famous Ebinger’s bakery in Brooklyn, which shut down in the late 1970s. There’s still a Facebook page dedicated to this bakery with people sharing their memories of this amazing cake from way back when.
New York Cheesecake: the original and proper baked cheesecake. Simple ingredients, cream cheese, sugar, eggs and vanilla: that’s it! The base should be made properly, not just crushed digestives!
Blueberry Pie: My love for blueberries in dessert knows no bounds. There’s nothing like a flaky, buttery crust filled with the most amazing cooked, purple blueberries. A slice is definitely one of your 5 a day!
Pumpkin Pie: this is a controversial one. It’s a must at Thanksgiving, but can seem strange to non-Americans. It’s spicy and flavourful, really easy to make. Sounds strange, but please use tinned pumpkin puree, the results will be better.
The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook (revised and expanded edition) by Tarek Malouf is published by Mitchell Beazley, £17.99 (www.octopusbooks.co.uk)
Publication date: October 5, 2017