14 Regional Cakes and Pies Worth Making
As we head into holiday baking season, you likely have at least a few standby desserts that you make every year. But if you’re looking to try something new, one of the most exciting places to start is with regional dessert recipes. Below, we’ve rounded up some signature favorites — namely cakes and pies! — all of which have long-standing histories in select states or regions across the country. And all of them deserve a spot in kitchens nationwide.
1. Wisconsin’s Fudge-Bottom Pie
Originating in the 1940s on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, this icebox pie has since become a bit of a local legend. It features a salty-sweet graham cracker crust, a puddle of rich fudge, and a silky layer of vanilla custard — all topped with fresh whipped cream.
Get the recipe: Wisconsin’s Fudge-Bottom Pie
2. New England Apple Cider Cake
Tart Granny Smith apples are packed into a buttery batter, then baked and drizzled with a creamy cider glaze. Like its apple pie cousin, this is best served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Get the recipe: New England Apple Cider Cake from A Family Feast
3. Old-Fashioned “Do Nothing” Cake
This simple one-bowl dessert might just be the original dump cake — since it practically makes itself. The pineapple- and coconut-studded cake also goes by many names depending on the region or state, including Arkansas Doodle Cake, Cajun Cake, and Granny Cake.
Get the recipe: Old Fashioned Do Nothing Cake
4. Boston Cream Pie
The three main components of a successful Boston Cream Pie? Lush pastry cream, airy yellow cake, and a rich chocolate glaze or ganache. When done right, it’s magical.
Get the recipe: Boston Cream Pie from Bakers Royale
5. St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake
In the 1930s, a St. Louis baker botched the amount of butter he put in a coffeecake he was trying to make — and ended up with this instead. With a crispy-chewy base and a (true-to-its-name!) gooey and rich filling, the cake has remained a local favorite ever since.
Get the recipe: St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake
6. Kentucky Bourbon and Walnut Pie
This is basically a pecan pie that trades pecans for walnuts — then adds plenty of chocolate. This streamlined version starts with pre-made pie crust, but you could easily swap in a homemade version as well.
Get the recipe: How To Make Kentucky Bourbon and Walnut Pie
7. Hummingbird Cake
Think of Hummingbird cake as a cross between banana bread and pineapple upside-down cake. While it is well-established in parts of the American South, the dessert actually has roots in Jamaica — where it was called a Doctor Bird cake.
Get the recipe: Hummingbird Cake
8. Shoofly Pie from Simply Stacie
This signature dessert of the Pennsylvania Dutch traces back to the 1880s. The sticky-sweet filling is typically made with molasses, flour, brown sugar, and egg — although this version omits the molasses for more brown sugar. (Find another molasses-centric version here.)
Get the recipe: Shoofly Pie from Simply Stacie
9. Tennessee Apple Stack Cake
Also known as Tennessee Mountain Cake, the layers are shaped and baked without a cake pan so they can dry out. They are then moistened and re-soaked in a rich apple filling (for a full day or more!) before being stacked up and served.
Get the recipe: Tennessee Apple Stack Cake
10. Hot Milk Cake from Culinary Hill
Hot milk cake gained popularity in the Great Depression, where it fit the bill of being a modest, low-key dessert that didn’t require much to make. In this case, the namesake ingredient — scalded milk — makes for a simple but satisfying taste.
Get the recipe: Hot Milk Cake from Culinary Hill
11. Chocolate Bumpy Cake
Originating in Detroit more than a century ago, this dessert gained its “bumpy” name when the baker realized he didn’t have enough buttercream frosting to fully cover the cake. Instead, he piped the frosting into rails (or bumps) across the top, then covered everything in chocolate glaze.
Get the recipe: Chocolate Bumpy Cake
12. Kentucky Jam Cake from Spicy Southern Kitchen
In this dessert, blackberry jam is mixed directly into spiced cake batter, giving the batter a bit of tartness. The whole thing is then balanced and topped with sweet caramel icing and, often, walnuts or pecans.
Get the recipe: Kentucky Jam Cake from Spicy Southern Kitchen
13. Classic Key Lime Pie
14. Texas Turtle Sheet Cake from I Am Baker
The “everything’s bigger” adage definitely applies to Texas Sheet Cake, which spans the entire length of a sheet pan, and stacks ever-so-high. This turtle-themed version upgrades the chocolate base with pecans, caramel, and even more chocolate.
Get the recipe: Texas Turtle Sheet Cake from I Am Baker