Stuck at home? Here's what to bake
New to baking? Try these easy-to-follow recipes.
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With the number of COVID-19 cases climbing across the country, many Americans are being asked to practice social distancing and stay at home. If you're one of many, many people looking for a relaxing hobby to pick up during stressful times of isolation, baking can keep you busy while providing delicious, fresh-baked goods to you and your family.
But this simple task can sometimes be daunting—when I started learning how to bake, I had no idea how much precision it requires, which led to a handful of kitchen mishaps. Luckily, with the right tools and appliances, baking can be for anyone—including a newbie like me.
Here are some recipes (as well as helpful tips) that I've been using since I was a novice baker. Trust me, if I can do it, so can you.
1. A batch of delicious snacks that you can make from a box
I know, I know: Is it serious baking if you're using a boxed mix? But I find that these mixes can be a great introduction to learning how to bake, as the instructions are clear, the ingredients are simple, and the techniques are straightforward.
Take brownies as an example—mix the ingredients, dump the mixture onto a cast iron skillet or a half sheet pan, and let bake in the oven for the suggested period of time. In these few steps, you’ll have brownies ready to serve! If you’re feeling fancy, you can add a dollop of ice cream or drizzle with chocolate syrup.
2. A loaf of quick bread for a morning boost
For someone who’s new to baking, quick bread is the way to go. You can toss in anything you have on hand—old bananas, nuts, raisins—and you’ll have some sweet, filling bread to start the day. I've found this process is easiest with a mixer—either a hand mixer or a stand mixer can do the job with minimum effort.
Banana bread is relatively easy to tackle as, like with all quick breads, it doesn’t require yeast to rise. In addition to simplifying the recipe, the lack of yeast also shortens the total bake time. After testing loaves from a ton of different recipes, I decided I like this banana bread recipe from Bon Appétit the most.
One pro tip: When you line the loaf pan with parchment paper, let the paper overhang the edges of the loaf pan as it can help make lifting up the bread a lot easier when baking is done.
3. Some artisanal bread that will impress your friends
Once you’ve tried some intro-level recipes, you may feel comfortable challenging yourself with the crown jewel of baking—yeasted bread. If you don't have the patience to raise your own sourdough starter, I’ve found this no-knead bread recipe to be a good start as it only involves four steps and four ingredients. We recommend baking the bread in a Dutch oven (you need to make sure to remove the plastic knob on the lid), but you can use any heavy, covered pot (preferably 8-quart or more) of your choice.
4. Some muffin-sized versions of savory, single-serve dishes
If you have a muffin tin sitting in your cupboard collecting dust, you’re not alone. Many of us probably bought one for a special occasion or a recipe that asked for it, but never got a second chance to use it. Now that you’re home with plenty of time to bake, here are some brilliant ways to make the most out of muffin tins so you can explore items not limited to cornbread muffins and cupcakes.
5. Simple but delicious desserts for after-dinner indulgence
Being stuck at home doesn’t mean you have to skip dessert. You can make this simple brown sugar cake with ricotta and blueberries in under 25 minutes, or try these fuss-free Oreo truffle balls that only use three ingredients.
I also love this one-bowl upside-down cake because it calls for minimum kitchen equipment, but you’ll need a cake pan to prevent the cake batter from overflowing. If you don’t have a cake pan, you can use your oven-proof skillet to make this caramel apple clafoutis.
6. These all-time-favorite cookies you can save for later
If you’re craving chocolate chip cookies but you don’t have any premade cookie dough, you may want to make your own from scratch. This classic chocolate chip cookie recipe is easy to follow and egg-free, which is great for those of us who didn't stock up before they sold out. The recipe also provides instructions on how to freeze the dough for later use.
To ensure the best quality cookies, we like to use cookie sheets that can prevent the undersides from burning and promote even baking. To make sure the surface is nonstick, you can either line the cookie sheet with parchment paper or try a baking mat that’s easy to use—and clean.
With the proper tools and practice, this stay-at-home time may help us all become better home cooks and bakers. Have more cooking-related questions during the coronavirus outbreak? We're here to help you figure out what to do with your pantry items to how to get your meal kits delivered.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
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