50 States of Baked Goods
Craving cookies and pie? Find a bit of fresh-baked bliss in all 50 states, plus Washington, D.C.
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Alabama: Orange Rolls
For more than 80 years, All Steak’s orange rolls have lured locals and visitors back to the Cullman restaurant for more. Made from a semi-secret recipe, these sticky, slightly buttery, sweet rolls are topped with tangy orange glaze instead of the classic sugar coating. In addition to being served with lunch and dinner, the rolls are available by the half dozen or dozen to take home.
Alaska: Wild Berry Cobbler
Maine may get attention for its blueberries, but Alaska's wild version is just as memorable. Right smack in the middle of some of Alaska's most beautiful country is Sheep Mountain Lodge, a must-stop along the Glenn Highway. Fresh-baked goods include cinnamon rolls and rhubarb pie, but if you visit during the fall, you might be lucky enough to taste berry cobbler made with wild Alaska blueberries, hand-picked that morning.
Arizona: Gingerbread Pig
Some people call them cochinitos. Others prefer "ginger pigs." Cute and not too sweet, these little piggies from El Rio Bakery in Tucson fall somewhere between a cookie and a cake, yet they're not really a sweet bread. Rumor holds that they get their flavor from molasses, but the bakery won’t tell.
Arkansas: Possum Pie
Arkansas's most-definitive pie, this layered dessert includes a sandy-bottom crust (flour, butter and pecans), cream cheese, chocolate custard and whipped cream with pecan bits on top. The pie gets its name from the term "playin' possum," or pretending to be something you're not. In this case, the chocolate layer is what's hidden until the pie is sliced. Stoby's of Russellville makes the standard-bearing version known around the state; you can pick up a whole one to take home from its partner bakery, PattiCakes, in Conway.
California: Boysenberry Pie
California is home to plenty of produce that could yield the most-iconic baked good — strawberries, lemons and oranges are plentiful. But the tangy boysenberry, a hybrid of raspberries and blackberries, is a local phenomenon and led to the creation of Knott's Berry Farm, a Southern California theme park with a country-style kitchen where you can — and should — grab a slice.
Go to: Knott's Berry Farm
Colorado: Cinnamon Roll
Since 1952, Johnson’s Corner, a trucker pit stop in Johnstown open 24 hours a day, every day, has plied weary, bleary-eyed road warriors with what may be the state’s most-glorified injection of sugar: scratch-made, skyscraping, spiraled, old-fashioned cinnamon rolls lavishly glazed with white icing. The original cinnamon roll — a recipe created by a former employee — is always available, but keep an eye out for the monthly concoctions that zigzag from blueberry to pumpkin to bacon-cinnamon. Eat one there, then pick up a baker’s dozen for midnight snacking.
No tiny bake shop, Nora Cupcake has transformed itself from a small operation with a dozen or so flavors to a thriving business with a staggering 300 varieties of cupcakes. This explosion of popularity is no coincidence. Owner Carrie Carella’s creativity, passion for baking and hard work have turned the flagship Middletown store north of Rapallo Avenue (hence, the name NoRa) into Connecticut’s cupcake shop of choice. With so many flavors to choose from, selecting a favorite is an impossible task. But the seasonal specialty Irish Car Bomb is worth waiting patiently until March to enjoy. A chocolate Guinness cupcake, stuffed with a Jameson-dark chocolate ganache, is finished with a Bailey's cream cheese frosting and topped with a malt ball. It's one of the many cupcake masterpieces to be admired and then quickly enjoyed.
Delaware: Peach Pie
When you think peaches, you probably think Georgia, right? Well, guess what? Peach pie is actually the state dessert of Delaware. Who knew? (Probably not even some Delawareans reading this.) Peach farming has actually been a huge part of Delaware's agricultural scene since the 19th century, when it was the country's leading producer of peaches (the state shipped 6 million baskets to market in 1875!). In 2009, Delaware officially made the peach pie its state dessert. So if you're ever en route to one of Delaware’s scenic beachside towns, be sure to stop at Fifer Orchards in Dewey Beach or another local farm stand or market along the way for a freshly baked pie.
Florida: Guava-and-Cheese Pastelitos
Connoting excessive enthusiasm or an absolute obsession, the word mania indicates a level of madness that is generally not considered a positive, unless it comes to food. Little Havana’s Pastelmania offers a crazy array of Cuban pasteles (pastries) prepared by baked-good fanatics. Flavors include sweet and savory, with options such as coconut, pineapple, meat, crab and even pizza, which is filled with mozzarella and ham. For a pastelito that is the ultimate taste of Miami, go for the guava-and-cheese version. The gigantic pastry is stuffed so full of its sweet, tropical filling that the cream-cheesy fruit mixture oozes out upon first flaky bite.
Georgia: Fried Apple Pies
If pies straight out of the oven aren't good enough, Georgia specializes in deep-fried hand pies. Mercier Orchards in Blue Ridge is home to a country store that rolls scratch-made crusts to fill with sugared apples for local favorites. Bonus: Mercier ships freshly fried pies anywhere in the country.
Hawaii: Coco Puffs
Liliha Bakery itself has been an iconic venue since 1950, but it’s now best known for its famous Coco Puffs: chocolate cream puffs slathered in Liliha’s famous Chantilly frosting. They provide a unique balance of sweet and salty as the chocolate explodes in your mouth. The Coco Puffs are so popular — the bakery sells between 4,800 and 7,200 per day, year after year — that they are sold 24 hours a day, Tuesday through Sunday, at the original location on Liliha Street.
Idaho: Cherry Pie
Emmett, Idaho, is famous for its fresh cherries, and when they come into season each June, fans feast on oozing slices of homemade cherry pie, ideally from Blue Ribbon Cafe and Bakery, which has been whipping up flaky pies with glistening fruit fillings for nearly two decades. The tender, buttery crust — with its windowsill-worthy lattice top — is based on a secret family recipe.
Go to: Blue Ribbon Cafe and Bakery
Illinois: Apple Fritter
Chicagoans are known for their love of large dishes — deep-dish pizza, anyone? — and apple fritters are no exception. Old Fashioned Donuts includes a whole apple’s worth of diced cinnamon-coated apple bits in each cinnamon-coated fritter.
Go to: Old Fashioned Doughnuts
Indiana: Sugar Cream Pie
This simple pie came to Indiana in the 1800s with Quaker and Shaker settlers, German and Dutch immigrants and those moving north from Appalachia. The recipe uses just a few ingredients: sugar, flour, cream, vanilla and nutmeg. A 2009 resolution in Indiana’s legislature recommended sugar cream be recognized as the state pie. Find an especially luscious version at My Sugar Pie in Zionsville.
Iowa: Sour Cream Raisin Pie
If you didn't grow up in the Midwest, chances are you've never heard of the sour cream raisin pie. But if you have a friend from Iowa (or any neighboring state), he or she will know what we're talking about. This is one of those nostalgic dishes, best enjoyed in a grandma's kitchen. Country Junction serves a version with a creamy custard base studded with juicy raisins and topped with meringue.
Go to: Country Junction
Kansas: Cream Pies
Kansas soil yields excellent wheat, which makes for some fantastic pies and some of the country's best cream pies. Opt for banana cream pie, coconut cream pie or chocolate cream pie, all of which can be enjoyed at Upper Crust Bakery in Overland Park.
Go to: Upper Crust Bakery
Kentucky: Derby Pie
George Kern and his parents, Leaudra and Walter, developed Derby Pie around 1950 in Prospect, Kentucky. They trademarked it as Derby-Pie in the late 1960s. Kentuckians eat Derby Pie year-round, not just in early May. Kern’s Kitchen in Louisville produces the custardy walnut-chocolate dessert from a secret recipe, selling it frozen online and to restaurants and grocery stores in parts of Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio. When Kentucky home cooks and chefs make similar pies — for example, adding chocolate chips to a pecan pie — they sometimes use names like Racetrack Pie to let diners know the pie is similar to Derby-Pie while also avoiding trouble over the fiercely protected trademark.
Louisiana: Doberge Cake
There are plenty of great desserts in Louisiana — king cake, pralines and beignets among them — but few command the impressive stature of doberge cakes. Traditionally a six- or eight-layered yellow cake with chocolate and lemon pudding between each layer, doberge cake, a New Orleans favorite, is usually encased in a fondant shell. Debbie Does Doberge serves creative versions like a towering rainbow cake and a Key lime riff on doberge.
Go to: Debbie Does Doberge
Maine: Whoopie Pies
Blueberry pie is a natual choice for Maine, but the state also has a long history with cakey, summer-ready whoopie pies. Find fluffy, freshly baked whoopies everywhere from gas station counters to fine-dining dessert lists. Governor’s Restaurant uses a recipe from its founders, Leith and Donna Wadleigh, to create whoopies that are heavy on cocoa and have a filling rich with butter, confectioners’ sugar and Marshmallow Fluff.
Go to: Governor’s Restaurant
Maryland: Smith Island Cake
In 2008, Maryland’s legislature named the towering Smith Island Cake — famous for eight thin layers of rich yellow cake slicked with chocolate-fudge icing — the state’s official dessert. Named for a tiny island on the Chesapeake Bay, from which it hails, Smith Island Cake’s origins can be traced to the 1800s, when locals baked tiered cakes for watermen toiling away during the autumn oyster harvest. At some point, they switched the buttercream frosting to fudge, since it lasted longer, and the rest is history.
Go to: Smith Island Baking Company
Massachusetts: Boston Cream Pie
Few cities get an eponymous world-renowned dessert, but Boston does, with its custardy, fudgey Boston Cream Pie. Pie's a bit of a misnomer, as there's no crust; there's also no cream. But the layer cake traces back to 1855 at what is now the Omni Parker House, where are dozens of pies are baked daily to satisfy cravings.
Go to: Omni Parker House
This Polish doughnut is popularly known as the sweet treat of Fat Tuesday, but in Hamtramck, a largely Polish town outside Detroit, the devotion to paczki — pronounced “punch-key” — is taken to a new level. Lines form out the door from the wee hours for these decadent doughnuts traditionally stuffed with rose hip or stewed plum jam. Some of the well-known paczki bakeries, like the New Palace Bakery, have introduced their own variations, such as Strawberry and Chocolate, filled with strawberry glaze and milk chocolate drizzle, and the Red, White and Blue, with creamy custard, strawberries and blueberries.
Go to: New Palace Bakery
Minnesota: Bar Cookies
Calling Minnesota's affinity for bar cookies a "love affair" feels rather risque for a relationship likely formed over decades of church socials. For some reason, bar cookies started out as an easy, portable dessert for potlucks, but they have now become the darling of Minnesota artisan bakeries. For the best example of the art of the pan cookie, look to Lucia's To-Go, where they transform local bounty into rectangles of pure joy. Look for strawberry-rhubarb in the summer and cranberry in the winter.
Go to: Lucia's To-Go
Mississippi: Mississippi Mud Pie
It's practically cheating to choose the Mississippi Mud Pie for its namesake state. The dessert resembles the muddy banks of the Mississippi River with its chocolate filling and crumbly cookie exterior. Head to Biloxi for a slice of this chocolate lover’s dream at Mary Mahoney’s Old French House.
Missouri: Gooey Butter Cake
Few food fans visit St. Louis without trying gooey butter cake. But what is it? A flakey-yet-cakey crust with a rich, slightly chewy cream cheese and vanilla topping. Some are gooier than others, some are cloyingly sweet, but Gooey Louie makes a version that has fans all around the country.
Go to: Gooey Louie
Montana: Huckleberry Turnovers
Huckleberries are seemingly everywhere in Montana during warmer months, and locals use them to create pies, syrups, stud pancakes and more. In the off-the-grid town of Polebridge, the old-fashioned general store, Polebridge Mercantile, is fronted by a glass-front display case piled high with huckleberry bear claws, cinnamon rolls, cookies, scones, fresh-baked bread and pocket sandwiches. The Merc’s huckleberry turnovers take three days to make from start to finish — not counting the time it takes local pickers to forage for berries. The time and attention poured into each one is evident in every perfectly flakey bite.
Nebraska: Ice Cream-Topped Waffles
The Cornhusker State has plenty of excellent dairy, best enjoyed as ice cream, and even better enjoyed as ice cream atop a puffy Belgian waffle. Petrow's in Omaha serves milkshakes, dishes of ice cream and ice cream atop breakfast classics.
Go to: Petrow's
Nevada: Churro Doughnuts
Perhaps it's fitting that a city known for its sins offers a two-in-one dessert. The churro doughnut, at Pink Box Doughnuts, lays a crunchy cinnamon-sugar churro atop a glazed bar doughnut drizzled with dulce de leche.
Go to: Pink Box Doughnuts
New Hampshire: Whoopie Pie
Sure, whoopie pies are iconic throughout New England, but New Hampshire claims to be the whoopie's birthplace. Though the classic chocolate flavor earns the most attention, Just Like Mom’s Pastries offers a rotating list of 50 whoopie pie flavors.
Go to: Just Like Mom's Pastries
New Jersey: Blueberry Cupcakes
New Jersey is known for its boardwalks, its Italian food and its sensational blueberries. Get them by the pint at roadside stands, or try them baked into sweet treats. At Simona's Bakery, in Sea Girt, blueberries fill over-size cupcakes for a treat that is Lorraine Pascale's first stop when she reaches the U.S. The white chocolate cupcake is filled with homemade blueberry preserves, all topped with white chocolate chunks and a white chocolate drizzle.
Go to: Simona's Bakery
New Mexico: Biscochitos
The state cookie of New Mexico, biscochitos are the cooler cousin of sandies. Albuquerque's Golden Crown Panaderia makes tens of thousands of these little cinnamon-sugar-topped treasures every holiday season.
Go to: Golden Crown Panaderia
New York: Cheesecake
Rich, creamy and replicated all over the world, New York-style cheesecake is as iconic as a dessert can get. The most-venerable rendition came out of the Junior's in downtown Brooklyn in 1950. The slightly lemony large-enough-for-two-people slices still attract fans from throughout the region and around the world.
North Carolina: Peach Cobbler
North Carolina is ninth in U.S. peach production, but first when it comes to a quality cobbler. The homey dessert — best topped with ice cream — is best eaten at home, bu also fantastic at the State Farmers’ Market Restaurant, within Raleigh's farmers' market. Get it for lunch, or after a breakfast of biscuits.
North Dakota: Seven Layer Bars
Bars and coffee is a classic Midwestern pairing. North Dakota bakers have perfected dozens of bars (a word that sometimes slips out as “barse” in a folksy accent, much to our chagrin), so the seven layer bars in in the old-fashioned wooden cases at Josie’s Corner Café and Bake Shop in Fargo are as good a place to start snacking as any. Nuts, chocolate and butterscotch chips, coconut and condensed milk mingle on top of a thick graham cracker crust.
Ohio: Buckeye Doughnuts
Known as the Buckeye State, Ohio has a namesake nut that grows from a native tree indigenous to the state. The nut inspired a lookalike treat of peanut butter balls dipped in chocolate, which inspired Buckeye Donuts in Columbus. Filled with peanut butter and dunked in chocolate, the Buckeye Donut has been served since the shop opened its doors in 1969.
Go to: Buckeye Donuts
Oklahoma: Fried Pie
Fried pies have been popular in the Sooner State since the first time someone dropped pie dough in a deep-fryer — supposedly by accident, though ranchers also liked to cook their pies over campfires, leading to a crackly exterior later replicated by frying. Try a cult-favorite version at Arbuckle Mountain Pie Company, in Davis, where savory and sweet fillings are served in an impossibly flaky pastry.
Go to: Arbuckle Mountain Fried Pies
Oregon: Marionberry Pie
Marionberries were bred at Oregon State University by crossing two types of blackberries. They're delicious, but rather tricky to find outside the state, since they don’t ship well. Find them in muffins, jam, ice cream and slices of fresh pie. The Willamette Valley Pie Company in Salem processes an average of 12 million pounds of berries per year and makes three kinds of marionberry pie, all ideal with a scoop of ice cream.
Pennsylvania: Shoofly Pie
Also known as molasses pie, this sticky-sweet concoction is a favorite in Amish country. Shoofly is known for its thin pastry crust on the bottom, a sugary crumb cake topping and a middle-layer of thickened molasses that gets cooked until it’s just set but still gooey. Go to Zig’s Bakery in Lancaster Central Market for the standard-setting version of the Pennsylvania Dutch classic. You can get a mini pie to enjoy with a cup of coffee at the market, or pick up a whole pie to take home.
Go to: Zig's Bakery
Rhode Island: Hermit Cookies
Perhaps the antithesis of the popular millionaire's cookie, frugal times inspired this Hermit, a cookie that reused other doughs in the kitchen. Sold at DeLuise in Providence, the molasses-based cookies are aromatic and sweet, and are cut into large rectangles that are iconic of the Ocean State.
Go to: DeLuise Bakery
South Carolina: Coconut Cake
Digging into layer cakes is a time-honored Southern tradition, and a good coconut cake is the banner combination. Peninsula Grill in Charleston makes what could be the best version — fans travel from around the world to try the 12-layer behemoth, and the restaurant ships them anywhere in the country. The prize-winning cake combines coconut cake with coconut buttercream all patted down with shredded coconut. There's even a coconut martini as a dessert pairing.
South Dakota: Kuchen
A custard-like cake-pie hybrid, Kuchen (pronounced "coo-gen") is the official dessert of South Dakota. Introduced in the 1880s courtesy of German-speaking immigrants from what is now Ukraine, this is a favorite treat with coffee, it's often served at weddings and studded with seasonal fruit. Get some from Eureka Kuchen Factory, which ships its custard treats around the country.
Go to: Eureka Kuchen Factory
Designed as a snack sized to fit in a coal miner's lunchbox, this beloved marshmallow-stuffed cookie sandwich has been a Tennessee staple for more than a century. Whether frosted with chocolate, vanilla or banana, the MoonPie still has legions of fans. Baked in Chattanooga, the fluffy, chocolatey treat is shipped all over the country.
Texas: Pecan Pie
Pecan pie is Texas’ official state dessert, and the state is rife with gooey, nutty takes on the terat. For a superlative take, head to pie happy hour at Blue Bonnet Cafe in Marble Falls. The decades-old cafe uses nuts sourced from less than two hours away.
Go to: Blue Bonnet Cafe
Utah: Pickle Pie
Utah loves its pie: There are entire pie routes along Utah's Highway 12 and Highway 24 scenic byways. The unique recipes at The Sunglow Restaurant & Motel in Bicknell, a cafe that has been around since the mid-1950's, are what draw crowds en route to see desert landscapes. Of the several pie options, quirky pickle (which tastes shockingly similar to pumpkin pie), pinto bean (which could stand in for pecan pie) and buttermilk pie have earned it destination status.
Vermont: Apple Pie with Cheddar
Vermont is famous for its Cheddar. The state also produces about 40 million pounds of apples a year. So apple pie with Cheddar is a natural state specialty, and not just for dessert: Vermonters enjoy pie at breakfast. The Allenholm Farm apple orchard in South Hero sells 2,000-plus pies annually.
Go to: Allenholm Farm Store
Virginia: Peanut Pie
Peanuts have been grown commercially in Virginia since the 1840s, and the Virginia peanuts are the largest in the nation. Rather than ground their legumes into peanut butter for desserts, Virginians keep 'em whole for peanut pie. The Virginia Diner — located in the heart of Virginia peanut country, Sussex County — bakes as many as four dozen peanut pies a week. There’s a half-pound of crushed salted peanuts in each sweet, buttery dessert.
Go to: Virginia Diner
Washington: Molten Chocolate Cake
There are exceptional chocolatiers in Washington State, including Theo Chocolate, which sets a new level of chocolate devotion in the Pacific Northwest. Home bakers and pros alike use the local bounty to craft chocolatey delicacies, including molten chocolate cake. Autumn Martin left her dream job as Head Chocolatier of Theo to open Hot Cakes, which an incredible calling-card recipe (Take-n-Bake Molten Chocolate Cake) that is now a full-fledged store with multiple locations and a thriving retail business.
Washington, D.C.: Strawberry Cupcakes
Spring in Washington, D.C., is a revelation. Cherry blossoms bloom, daffodils spring up, dogwood trees erupt in flower, and Washingtonians take to Rock Creek Park jogging paths, the National Mall and any park available to enjoy it all. The strawberry cupcake is that ideal spring accompaniment: the perfect bite of spring. Georgetown bakery Baked and Wired mixes fresh berries into the vanilla cake batter, slathering the top with strawberry buttercream. Grab a few en route to the local waterfront.
Go to: Baked and Wired
West Virginia: Apple Dumpling
The Golden Delicious apple was created in West Virginia, and it stars in a variety of homemade pies, cakes, cobblers and crumbles in every corner of the state. But folks swear there’s no better role for it than the one it plays in the legendary made-from-scratch apple dumpling. Order one to go from Apple Annie’s Bakery in Morgantown.
Go to: Apple Annie's Bakery
Wisconsin: Cream Puffs
Wisconsin is all about the dairy, so it shouldn't be a surprise that cream puffs are an area favorite. European-born cream puffs earned local status at the Wisconsin State Fair during the 1940s, when visitors queued up in the Wisconsin Bakers Association’s facility there to get a rare taste of a wartime scarcity, whipped cream. Bakers heaped dense clouds of it into golden pastry puffs and showered the treats with powdered sugar. No wonder the demand turned into a tradition. Today, visitors down some 50,000 cream puffs a day during the fair’s two-week run.
Wyoming: Cowboy Cookies
When it comes to dessert on the range, cowboy cookies are the go-to. However, cowboy cookies don’t really have anything to do with cowboys. They’re merely a perfect marriage of sweet and salty ingredient variations like brown sugar, cinnamon, oats, chocolate and nuts, making a perfect cookie flavor profile. Persephone Bakery in Jackson makes chocolate chip-walnut cookies with sea salt (the best part) that are a perfect takeaway souvenir from Cowboy Country.
Go to: Persephone Bakery