You may not have heard of food writer and stylist Jerrelle Guy yet, but once you see it, you'll want to jump right into her debut cookbook, Black Girl Baking.

Packed with recipes that are both decadent and vegan-friendly – from banana bread to a fudgy flourless brownie pie – the US-based baker, born in South Florida, grew up watching the Food Network ("It was my Saturday morning cartoon"), studied gastronomy at Boston University, and writes recipes alongside her partner, Eric, on their blog Chocolate For Basil.

Here, the 27-year-old tells us about her love of food, why it's about far more than flavours on a plate, and a thing or two about 'honey buns'...

Why did you want to write Black Girl Baking?

"Because it was my reality, and I wanted to share what I'd learned about myself, food, African American food-ways and my spirituality. It just felt right and honest, and a creative way to tell my story. I also hadn't heard a lot of people talking about baking or blackness the way I was experiencing it."

What was inspiring you when you sat down to piece the book together?

"I was inspired by #blackgirlmagic and was thinking about merging the food world with this virtual movement that honoured the natural beauty of black women as they exist, without comparison, in the social landscape.

@I thought it was fitting, especially during a time when blackness was feeling so undervalued; to stand up boldly and claim myself and my body in an unapologetic and loving way felt necessary. Black women have so much to bring to the table – and have historically built the table American food rests on – and those contributions should be acknowledged and celebrated."

How do you think conversations and expectations around what we eat need to change?

"As someone who chose veganism at a young age for all the wrong reasons, I'm at a place now where I think it's best if we all just eat more intuitively and practice listening to our own bodies. We also need to talk about food in a way that makes it inclusive, flexible and freeing, instead of another space where women are limited and required to shrink or define themselves with extra labels.

"All this starts with how we speak to ourselves. Not being ashamed of what we eat, how much we eat and how much we love and celebrate food, trusting our gut. It can take a lot of work, but awareness of our own food shaming is a good first step."

What do you want people to take from the book?

"I'd like for them to be adventurous in the kitchen, make mistakes with self-compassion, explore, get lost and find themselves, and be inspired to do their own soul-searching through cooking and experimentation, without getting caught up in perfection.

"For me, baking should be more about the process and about enjoying the solo journey in the kitchen; everyone's response to your masterpiece can be the icing, but the real work happens in solitude - you gotta do the dirty work on your own."

What have you discovered about yourself through your own cooking-related soul-searching?

"That I hate rules. That I have brought a lot of my history and pieces of my grandma and mom and dad with me into things I do subconsciously; that I get bored quickly making the same things over and over again.

"That I bring a lot of the methods I learned in art school into almost everything I do, especially baking. That if I am resourceful, everything I need is right here with me in my memories, creativity, rhythm and body."

How would you describe your style in the kitchen?

"Pretty loose, partly chaotic, but also methodical, messy, creative, imperfect - and I use my bare hands as often as possible."

What flits through your mind when you bake?

"It's usually clearer when I'm in the kitchen than it ever is throughout the day. I am inspired thinking about building up to the end result. I think about the flavours building too, and the way things feel, and then how happy and free I am, and how my life is so fun and relaxing - like its own cooking show. Ha!"

What makes the process of baking powerful for you?

"It puts me in touch with the rawest part of myself. Baking also makes me feel rich and fancy because, since I was a little girl, I associated fresh baked things with abundance."

What is your earliest food memory?

"Sitting on my mom's lap while she fed me a 'yolky egg sandwich' - two pieces of white bread sandwiching a fried, peppered egg with lots of ketchup. She'd put the sandwich on a plate and then cut into it with the side of her fork.

"Anticipation would build up as she'd alternate between feeding me and feeding herself, and as she'd get closer to the centre of the sandwich where the egg yolk was nestled. Eventually she'd burst it open and it would ooze out everywhere, then she'd sop it up with the ketchup-stained bread and give me the good bite."

What would you say to people who find the thought of baking stressful?

"Focus on the process and get lost in that. Whatever you make will taste exactly like how you are feeling when you make it, so stop feeling stressed and stiff and just let yourself feel good."

Finally, what are honey buns and why are they so great?

"YES! Honey Buns! They are these saccharine, enriched breads that are coiled into a spiral, deep fried, icing-soaked and vacuum-packed. They're as soft as sponges and melt in your mouth when you bite into them. They were a huge part of my childhood. We'd buy them for a dollar or 75 cents along with pickled eggs, hot sausages, and hot Cheetos from the 'corner store lady', who was basically an entrepreneur woman who lived on the end of the block and sold snacks she'd buy in bulk and sell cheaper than the actual corner store. They were our dessert after all those salty snacks."

Gingersnap cookies


(Makes 30 cookies)

84g softened butter or virgin coconut oil

200g granulated sugar

2tsp vanilla extract

1tsp packed fresh grated ginger

1tsp packed orange zest

1 large egg (or 80g vegan flax egg)

60g molasses

180g white whole wheat flour

60g cacao powder or cocoa powder

2tsp baking soda

2tbsp ground ginger

1tbsp ground cinnamon

1tsp salt

Cane sugar, for rolling


1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C or gas mark 5). Position two oven racks in the center of the oven, and have two baking sheets lined with parchment nearby.

2. In a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer, or in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the butter, granulated sugar, vanilla, grated ginger and orange zest until very fluffy, about three minutes. Then slowly add the egg/flax egg and molasses and continue to beat until creamy.

3. Sift in the flour, cacao powder, baking soda, ground ginger, cinnamon and salt and continue to beat until just combined. Let the batter sit for 10 minutes.

4. Roll 2.5cm balls of dough in your palms, and then into the cane sugar to coat. Place the cookies on the baking sheet with about two to three inches between each one, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until cooked and crispy. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for five minutes, and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, at least one hour, best overnight uncovered, before eating so they make a snap.

Jelly bread


(Makes two 23cm loaves)

295ml warm oat or nut milk

50g sugar

11/2tsp active dry yeast

360g bread flour, plus more for dusting

3/4tsp salt

36g peanut butter powder

6-8tbsp your favourite jam

To serve:




1. In a small bowl, combine the milk with 25g of the sugar, then sprinkle the yeast over the top and let it sit and bloom until a thick cap of froth is formed, five to 10 minutes.

2. In a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment, combine the flour and salt. Add the remaining 25g sugar along with the bloomed yeast and peanut butter powder. Knead the mixture for three to four minutes, or until it turns into a springy dough. Place the dough in a clean oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and a damp cloth and place it in a warm dark place to double in size, about 60-90 minutes.

3. Lightly flour a work surface and a rolling pin and have two 23x12.5cm oiled loaf pans lined with 10cm-wide strips of parchment long enough to stretch across the width and up the sides of the pan with a little hanging over.

4. Unwrap the risen dough, punch it down in the center to release the air and roll it out to roughly a 40.6x76cm rectangle. Spread the jam all over the surface, then roll the dough up tightly from the shorter end. Slice the log in half so you have roughly two 20cm-long rolls. Transfer them to the prepared loaf pans; if they're longer, compress the rolls slightly, like accordions, or tuck the ends under to fit. Cover the bread again with plastic wrap and a warm damp dish towel and keep in a dark place to double in size, for another 60-90 minutes. The bread should peak out just slightly above the edges of the pan, or at least come up very close but not poof far over the edges.

5. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4 and position an oven rack on the lower half of the oven. Bake the loaves for 50-60 minutes, or until you can hear a hollow knock when you tap on the bottom of the baked loaf with your knuckle. Transfer to a wire wrack to cool for at least 20 minutes. Slice and serve with sliced banana and honey, if you like.

Buttermilk pie


(Makes one 23cm pie)

For the pastry:

120g whole wheat pastry flour, plus more for dusting

1/2tsp salt

84g cold butter, cut into

1.3cm cubes

45ml cold buttermilk

For the filling:

355ml buttermilk

75g cane sugar

2tsp vanilla extract

1/4tsp salt

30g plain flour

For the top layer:

72g cane sugar

Fresh berries, for serving (optional)


1. To make the pie crust, in a mixing bowl, stir together the flour and salt, then toss in the cubes of cold butter to coat. Using your thumb and index finger, squish the pieces of butter to flatten, and continue to break the butter up until 50% of the butter is crumbly, but not completely uniform in texture; you want there to be chickpea-size nuggets of butter still present. Add the cold buttermilk one tablespoon at a time, blending and gathering the mixture with your hands until a dough is formed. Shape the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. While the dough is chilling, prepare the filling.

2. To make the filling, add the buttermilk, sugar, vanilla, salt and flour to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Let the filling rest while the dough chills. Have your pie dish ready.

3. Once the dough is chilled, roll it out on a lightly floured surface or between two sheets of greaseproof paper into a 50cm round. Wrap the dough around the rolling pin to help ease it into the pie dish, then crimp the edges into a pattern with your fingers or a fork. Place the crust in the freezer to harden for another 10-15 minutes.

4. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4 and position a rack in the center of the oven. Remove the unbaked crust from the freezer and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the pie turns light golden brown. Remove from the oven and pour in the filling mixture. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the centre is set and doesn't jiggle when shaken. Remove from the oven. I like to serve mine warm from the oven, but if you'd prefer it chilled, place it in the fridge for at least two hours or until ready to serve.

5. For the top layer, when it's time to serve, add the sugar to a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the sugar begins to brown and bubble. Swirl the pan to help any uncooked sugar liquify and cook for a few more seconds, then pour it out over the cold buttermilk pie. Working quickly, carefully tilt the pie dish to evenly distribute the browned sugar over the top. Allow to cool and harden for about five minutes, and serve immediately by cracking the top and slicing. Top with fresh berries, if desired.

Black Girl Baking by Jerrelle Guy is published by Page Street Publishing, priced £16.99. Available now.