My sweet tooth doesn’t care that we’re in holed up at home.


That afternoon craving for a bite of chocolate or a wee scoop of ice cream only seems to be getting stronger the longer I’m at home. Maybe my taste buds are missing the random sweet treat dropped off by a co-worker on the newsroom’s food altar, or maybe sugar is simply the latest comfort food my body is craving now that so much of daily life is out of whack.


Baking has always brought comfort. When my dad was dying, it was apple cake. When I visit my sister, who lives much too far away, it’s her cinnamon-spiced chocolate chip cookies. When I’m missing my grandma, it’s lemon poppyseed loaf.


The peach streusel bread I baked last week probably will be imprinted forever in my mind as the dessert I ate for breakfast when it felt like the world might stop turning.


But the world hasn’t stopped turning. It is simply changing, sometimes in not-so-simple ways. Illness, job loss, unexpected emergencies. They say don’t sweat the small stuff, but what about the big stuff? Baking doesn’t make the big stuff any less hard, but it can bring just a little bit of light to an otherwise dark day.


We’re all learning how to adapt more quickly than ever, in the life-altering situations and the altered-life ones, too. In your kitchen, that might mean finding new sources for baking staples, including yeast, eggs and flour. The food supply chain is adapting, too, so I hope those ingredients are accessible to you.


If they aren’t, this is a great time to try out vegan or gluten-free baking, but you might need some specialty ingredients, such as chia seeds or flaxseed. Many bakers are experimenting with aquafaba, the soaking liquid from chickpeas, and I can attest that black bean brownies are actually pretty good.


I hope that whatever you are making, baking or taking away from this time will serve you in the sprint and the long run.



Everyday Granola


When cleaning out my pantry at the beginning of this quarantine, I uncovered more oats than one pantry reasonably needs. I also had raisins, dried cranberries and shredded coconut, and, in the freezer, an assortment of nuts. Granola! Our cereal stash was running low, and I was surprised how much putting together a batch of granola settled me into the kitchen. I’m glad I found this everyday granola recipe from the excellent 2014 cookbook "The Kitchn Cookbook." The whisked egg whites help bind the ingredients and add greatly to the final texture, but every other ingredient can adjust to what you have your pantry. Use the leftover yolks in tomorrow’s scrambled eggs or in a garlicky aioli to go with tonight’s dinner.


— Addie Broyles


3 cups old fashioned oats (not instant)


1 cup chopped nuts, such as almonds, walnuts or pecans


1 cup dried shredded unsweetened coconut


1/2 cup seeds, such as sesame or pumpkin


1/2 cup lightly packed light brown sugar


1 1/2 teaspoons of salt


1/4 teaspoon cinnamon


1/2 cup oil, such as olive or walnut


1/2 cup liquid sweetener, such as honey or maple syrup


3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


2 egg whites, lightly beaten


3/4 cups chopped dried fruits, such as cherries or apricots, or whole currants or blueberries


Heat the oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl, mix the oats, nuts, coconut, seeds, sugar, salt and cinnamon. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, liquid sweetener and vanilla. Pour the liquid mixture into the dry mixture and stir to combine. Add the egg whites and combine thoroughly. Scrape the mixture out onto a half sheet pan (18 inches by 13 inches) and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the mixture is light brown and toasty. Stir after 20 minutes, moving the crispy bits from the perimeter into the center and distributing the granola in the center out toward the edge of the pan.


Remove the pan from the oven and add the dried fruit. Using a spatula, stir to combine the mixture and let the granola cool. The mixture may be sticky, but it will harden as it cools. Transfer to an airtight container. Granola will stay fresh for 7 to 10 days. For a longer shelf life, store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks.


— Adapted from a recipe in TheKitchn.com


Brown Sugar-Cardamom Butter Stack-ups


Is it fair to have a favorite? Because, from start to finish, these multilayer buttery, spicy, puffy treats are my favorite to make and eat. I love the process of making these -- making the dough, mixing the fragrant butter, buttering and stacking and layering and baking. Oh my, it's almost too much! Then they go into the oven and come out as buttery layers of brown sugar spice dough that are baked to crunchy-edged perfection. You're going to love them.


— Jami Curl


For the cardamom-ginger butter


3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature


1 cup brown sugar


1 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom


1 teaspoon ground ginger


1 vanilla bean pod, split and seeds scraped out (optional)


1/2 teaspoon kosher salt


1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


1 recipe Overnight Dough, cold (below)


Make the cardamom-ginger butter: Place the butter, brown sugar, cardamom, ginger, vanilla seeds (if using), salt and pepper in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until the butter comes together and turns creamy, about 3 minutes. The butter is ready to be used or can be wrapped and stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. The cardamom butter is easiest to use when it’s at a very spreadable room temperature. If you’ve stored the butter in the refrigerator, remove it and allow it to sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours before using.


Sprinkle flour over your work area. Scrape the dough from the bowl right into the center of that flour. Use your hands to pat the dough into a rough rectangle — this step helps the dough turn into an actual rectangle once you get going with a rolling pin. Grab a rolling pin and roll the dough into an approximate 12-inch-by-18-inch rectangle. Use additional flour to unstick any sticky spots. Spread the cardamom-ginger butter evenly over the entire surface of the dough, taking care to not snag the dough and tear holes in it.


Cut the dough into 2-inch squares. You can do this by scoring the dough at 2-inch intervals across and down, then cutting the dough on those score marks to create 2-inch squares. If scoring the dough is too tedious for you, you can also simply cut the dough into 2-inch squares (that’s what I do). You’ll end up with 54 in total. Once cut, gather 4 squares and stack them on top of each other. Nestle the stack, cut sides up, into the center of a piece of cut parchment. Place this bundle into the well of the muffin pan. Repeat until you’ve used all the squares and have 12 stack-ups ready to go. You’ll have a few squares of dough left over — I pick the nicest squares when making my stacks, then I discard the scrappier pieces.


Proof the stack-ups in a warm spot (about 80 degrees) until they have doubled in size, approximately 90 minutes.


Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the stack-ups for 25 to 27 minutes. They’ll be beautifully puffy, golden brown and bubbling with butter and sugar. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Use the parchment paper to lift them from the pan. Leave the parchment paper in place — it will hold the stack-ups together while they cool and make handling easy.


These spiced, buttery layered buns are sigh-inducing when warm from the oven. Leftover buns can be stored, well wrapped, at room temperature for up to 3 days. Day-old buns can be warmed in a microwave or 350-degree oven.


— From "Baking Gold: How to Bake (Almost) Everything with 3 Doughs, 2 Batters, and 1 Magic Mix" by Jami Curl (Ten Speed Press, $25)


Overnight Dough


Jami Curl’s "Baking Gold" includes three primary doughs, one cake mix and two batters that can bake just about any dessert. This yeasted dough yields fluffy rolls and buns that can be baked sweet or savory. Think gooey cinnamon rolls, buttery dinner rolls, garlic rolls and sticky buns. It does call for a packet of instant or active dry yeast, which can be hard to come by these days. Don’t try to make it if you don’t have yeast, but you could use store-bought croissant or biscuit dough and make something similar using a flouring rolling pin and a pizza cutter.


— Addie Broyles


For the overnight dough:


1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature


1/2 cup granulated sugar


1 teaspoon kosher salt


3 cups all-purpose flour


2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet) yeast


3/4 cup warm water


1 large egg, beaten


Combine the butter, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. With the mixer on medium speed, cream the ingredients until light and fluffy, approximately 3 minutes.


In a medium bowl, stir together the flour and yeast. Add 1 cup of the flour-yeast combination, plus the water, to the mixer bowl. Mix until smooth (this will take about 2 minutes), then add the remaining 2 cups flour-yeast combination and the egg.


Run the mixer until the flour is incorporated, then stop the mixer and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Now mix for 5 to 7 minutes on medium speed. The dough will start to look like it’s forming a thick web that is pulling away from the sides of the bowl and still sticking to the paddle attachment.


Scrape the dough out of the mixer bowl and into a bowl or container with a lid. Cover and let the dough rest at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes before refrigerating overnight.


After an overnight rest (or two nights if that works better for you), your dough is ready to use in the following recipes.


— From "Baking Gold: How to Bake (Almost) Everything with 3 Doughs, 2 Batters, and 1 Magic Mix" by Jami Curl (Ten Speed Press, $25)


Cherry Pie Bars


These gluten-free cherry pie bars from "Paleo Baking at Home" by Michele Rosen (Page Street Publishing, $21.99) have a pastry crust that doubles as a topping, a gooey sweet cherry filling and a maple glaze that is entirely optional. Rosen uses tapioca and almond flour, two grain-free flours that you can find at many grocery stores today, including Sprouts, Natural Grocers and the gluten-free section of many everyday supermarkets, but you could also use all-purpose flour, granulated sugar, butter and the milk of your choice for the glaze.


— Addie Broyles


For the crust and topping:


1 1/2 cups blanched almond flour


1 cup tapioca flour


1/3 cup pure maple or coconut sugar


2/3 cup ghee, palm oil shortening or grass-fed butter, cold, broken or cut into pieces


1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


1 teaspoon pure almond extract


1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt


2 large eggs


For the cherry filling:


2 1/2 cups pitted fresh or frozen cherries (no need to thaw)


1/4 cup pure maple or coconut sugar


2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice


1 tablespoon tapioca flour or cornstarch


Pinch of fine sea salt


1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


For the maple glaze:


1/2 cup powdered maple sugar or sugar


2 to 3 teaspoons unsweetened almond milk


1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


Prepare the crust and topping: You can use a food processor for this, or a pastry blender or fork. In a food processor or a large bowl, combine the almond and tapioca flours, maple sugar, ghee, vanilla, almond extract and salt and blend until coarse crumbs form. Pulse or stir in the eggs to form a sticky dough. Gather the dough into a ball, place it back in the bowl, cover and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.


Meanwhile, prepare the filling: In a large saucepan, combine the cherries, maple sugar, lemon juice, tapioca flour and salt and place over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring, then lower the heat and allow the mixture to simmer until thickened, 2 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla, then set aside to cool and continue to thicken.


Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8- or 9-inch square pan with parchment paper.


Spread half of the chilled dough on the bottom of the prepared pan and bake for 12 minutes. Chill the remaining dough while the bottom crust bakes.


When the 12 minutes are up, remove the pan from the oven and top the warm crust with the partially cooled cherry filling, then crumble the remaining chilled dough over the top.


Return the pan to the oven to bake for 30 to 35 additional minutes, or until browned on top and bubbling. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before cutting into bars.


For the optional glaze: Whisk together the powdered maple sugar, almond milk and vanilla extract until smooth and drizzle all over the bars. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.


— From "Paleo Baking at Home: The Ultimate Resource for Delicious Grain-Free Cookies, Cakes, Bars, Breads and More" by Michele Rosen (Page Street Publishing, $21.99)


Cast-Iron Chocolate Chip Cookie


Chocolate chip cookie cakes were a staple of my young days walking around the Battlefield Mall in Springfield, Mo. In my mind, the buttercream icing on top is what separates a chocolate chip cookie cake from a cake-sized chocolate chip cookie. The best way to bake such a dessert at home is in a cast-iron skillet, which evenly bakes the cookie on the bottom and the sides and makes it easy to serve. Buttercream frosting is optional on this version, and it’s is the kind of dessert that you can keep on the counter and munch on all week. Not that you’re at home with a sweet tooth or anything.


— Addie Broyles


1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened


2/3 cup brown sugar


1/2 cup granulated sugar


1 large egg


1 teaspoon vanilla


1 teaspoon coffee extract (optional)


1/2 teaspoon salt


1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour


1/2 teaspoon baking soda


2 cups semisweet chocolate chips


Vanilla ice cream, for serving


Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Using a mixer, cream the butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add the brown sugar and granulated sugar and continue creaming until once again light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat until combined. Add the vanilla and coffee extract, if using, followed by the salt. Beat until combined.


In a medium bowl, sift the baking soda into the flour, and then gently beat into into the dough mixture, taking care not to overwork. Add the chocolate chips and stir to combine.


Press the dough into a 10-inch cast-iron skillet, flattening the top into an even layer. Bake until the center is just set, about 20 minutes.


Let the cookie cool for 10 minutes, then serve warm with vanilla ice cream. Serves 8.


— Southern Kitchen


Scone-Top Blueberry Muffins


A great muffin top is one of life’s greatest pleasures. I have landed on a muffin formula and method that results in a crunchy, nubbly top reminiscent of my absolute favorite scones — those at Big Sur Bakery in Big Sur, Calif. — with the tender interior you’d expect from a classic dump-and-stir muffin your grandmother might make. While the jury is out on whether a muffin should count as a "pastry," I can tell you this: the mixing method here begins with a pastry-making sensibility, and its irresistible conelike muffin top qualify it for a spot in this section. Frozen berries make this muffin possible year-round, and also tend to bleed into the batter less than fresh, but if you’ve got fresh, just fold them in as gently as possible. For frozen berries, keep them in the freezer right up until the moment you stir them into the batter.


— Shauna Sever


Nonstick cooking spray for pan (optional)


2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled


1 cup granulated sugar, divided


2 teaspoons baking powder


3/4 teaspoon baking soda


1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt


1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes


1 cup plus 2 tablespoons cold, well-shaken buttermilk (or plain yogurt thinned with water)


2 large eggs


2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest


21/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract


3/4 teaspoon pure almond extract


1 (12-ounce) bag frozen blueberries


Position a rack to the center of the oven and heat it to 425 degrees. Line a 12-well muffin tin with tulip-style paper liners for a loftier rise, or if you’re using regular paper liners, spray the top of the muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray in case the muffins mushroom outward.


In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel S blade, combine the flour, 3/4 cup of the sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Pulse several times to blend. Add the butter pieces and process until the mixture resembles cornmeal, with no discernible butter pieces.


In a large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, lemon zest, vanilla and almond extract. Dump the contents of the food processor into the wet ingredients. Use a large, flexible spatula to fold the batter until well blended with no dry pockets. Add the frozen blueberries straight from the freezer. Fold the berries into the batter with just 4 or 5 productive turns of the spatula, to avoid streaking the batter with berry juice.


Divide the batter equally among the prepared muffin wells — each should be mounded full with batter. Pour the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar into a small cup. Dampen your fingertips with water and work them through the sugar to make it clump slightly, like snow. Top each muffin with a generous pinch of snowy sugar.


Bake the muffins for 10 minutes at 425 degrees. Without opening the oven door, reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Continue to bake for another 15 to 20 minutes, or until the muffins are golden and a toothpick inserted in the center of each muffin comes out clean. Let the muffins cool in the pan for just 2 minutes before transferring them carefully to a wire rack to cool completely (you may need to use a thin offset spatula or knife to loosen the edges of each muffin top from the pan first, if you didn’t use tulip-style liners). Allow the muffins to cool completely before serving.


— From "Midwest Made: Big, Bold Baking from the Heartland" by Shauna Sever (Running Press, $30)