Amina Hurd ’23 is an avid baker, creating delicious confections ranging from French macarons to Ukrainian honey cakes. She interweaves different cultures and styles into her baking, experimenting with existing recipes or even creating her own dishes. Hurd shares many of her creations on her baking Instagram account, @ami.bakes.
“I’m primarily a baker, more than a cook … For baking I would say I do a lot of French because I really like making macarons. I also like delving into new cultures, new cuisines… I can’t really say that I have a favorite one but I do return to, of course, Mexican and probably classic French for baking,” said Hurd.
Hurd’s baking process has evolved throughout the years, becoming more creative and less by the book as she gains more experience. Hurd often puts her own twist on established recipes through altering quantities of specific ingredients, changing the flavoring, and more.
“I started writing my own recipes and modifying the ingredients to make the textures I want … And then I’ll test them out as soon as I have access to a kitchen, and sometimes they’ll work really well—I actually made some of the most fluffy scones I’ve ever had in my life from the recipe that I created; that was cool. But sometimes I get something very wrong, and it just does not work,” said Hurd.
Hurd fondly remembers watching her uncle create intricate cakes at just three years old, helping spark her culinary passion. Nowadays, Hurd looks up to several “Bon Appétit” cooking idols, including Claire Saffitz, Molly Baz, Julia Child, and Rick Martinez. To find visual inspiration, she draws inspiration from other baking art accounts on Instagram.
“I have a few cooking idols. My uncle definitely is one of them … He makes the craziest cakes I could never do, even now. I remember when I was younger, he’d always make my brother’s cakes, and he made a scale version of Darth Vader’s helmet, and he used fondant and black food coloring. It was shiny, and it looked like the real thing, and it was absolutely amazing,” said Hurd.
However, Hurd often finds it difficult to bake on campus due to kitchen inaccessibility, so most of the baking she does while on the East Coast is at a nearby family member’s house. Nonetheless, she still manages to find ways to share her baking with friends at Andover, such as mailing them individualized Christmas cookies over the holidays.
Hurd’s friend, Kianna Jean-Francois ’23, said, “I really want her to bake while she’s on campus, which is kind of hard because she needs access to a kitchen, but if she can find a faculty who’ll allow her to, I hope she bakes on campus, so I can eat it … But now that we have a little bit less restrictions on campus, and everyone’s, for the most part, able to go unmasked in places, maybe she will find a way to bake and let us all try some [of her baking].”
Hurd also feels that the cultural aspect of food is very important, and loves learning about what different foods mean to those all around the world. Identifying as half Black herself, an example Hurd gave was that many Black families eat collard greens on New Year’s Day, as it is believed to bring wealth.
“If you have the opportunity and you’re traveling, expand your horizons, try something that you don’t think you like, or if there’s a burger on the menu and then there’s also something else that’s more regional, try the regional thing; why go with something you could have anywhere? So I think it’s really important to learn to think that food is a vessel for culture rather than just something to nourish,” said Hurd.