15 Baking Projects for When You're Stuck at Home
Best French Macarons
Creating macarons is a delicate process that is demystified with this recipe. From beating egg whites to carefully piping the batter, following these steps will yield delicious cookies. Feel free to customize the color and flavor of your macarons by swapping out the choice of food dye and extract. If you're more of a visual learner, you can watch this recipe demonstrated on Smart Cookie.
Patience is key for incredibly flaky and buttery (but not greasy) croissants. By gently folding in the butter and then refrigerating for a few hours between each step, you'll create rich pockets of butter that give you that perfect croissant texture once baked.
Russian Honey Cake
Don't let the nearly 10 hour recipe time scare you away. A large portion of that is the Russian Honey Cake sitting overnight for all the layers to combine. The first step to baking it involves cooking wildflower honey until dark brown for "burnt honey," which adds a rich depth to both the cake itself and the creamy frosting. At the very end, the entire dish is finished off with a layer of crunchy cake crumbs to seal in the decadent frosting.
Cream Puff "Crack Buns" (Choux au Craquelin)
This recipe has three main components, each of which are delicious and worth the effort to make from scratch. Tender pastry, crunchy craquelin crust, and a rich vanilla bean cream filling combine for a unique treat reminiscent of a Boston cream pie. "Not the easiest thing I’ve ever made — but one of the tastiest," says Sunni B. "If you follow the recipe and don’t cut corners, you will succeed."
If you're feeling fancy, then this Battenburg Cake is worth your time. To get the checkerboard effect, you'll need to bake two separate cake that are then cut and "glued" together with a layer of apricot jam. A blanket of homemade marzipan seals it all up for easy, elegant serving.
Real Homemade Bagels
Once you've made your own bagels, you'll never go back to the bagged varieties languishing on grocery store shelves. The key to an authentic bagel texture is a quick dip in boiling water, which conveniently makes it easier to add toppings before baking.
Baklava is a simple dessert that just requires a few steps to make a sweet crunchy treat. The time consuming aspect of the recipe is creating all the delicate layers by buttering the phyllo dough sheets.
Chef John's Sourdough Bread
Making sourdough bread is a commitment that will reward you with amazing loaves of bread for years to come. To start you'll need to plan ahead and make a sourdough starter — a combination of water and flour that comes "alive" through fermentation after a few days — to give your bread a natural lift and that distinct tangy flavor. Once that's over, making a loaf of sourdough is relatively easy with mostly just kneading and waiting required.
Chef John's Strawberry Crepe Cake
If you've got time on your hands, but don't want an overly complicated recipe, then the crepe cake is here to make your day. The two fillings — both cream and strawberry — are incredibly easy to whip up. The crepes are simple to make too, but cooking a large stack one at a time will keep you entertained for quite a while.
"This Jewish treat is a hybrid of sweet roll, swirl bread, and coffee cake," says recipe creator Nicholio. "It's a sweet yeast dough that you roll out, fill, and roll up like a jelly roll, then cut, twist, and bake in a loaf pan." While a walnut filling is traditional, you can mix and match whatever nuts you have available in your pantry.
Here's one for your project baking bucket list. "Pronounced 'queen-a-mahn,' kouign-amann wouldn't be one of the world's greatest pastries if it also weren't a legendary labor of love," says Chef John. "The irresistible combination of sweet, salty, sticky, buttery, crispy, flaky, and tender is something you must experience to believe."
Picture yourself breaking into a warm baguette fresh from your own oven, spreading it with butter and jam, and dreaming Parisian dreams. Make it all come true with this top-rated recipe for the most iconic of French breads.
Ooey-Gooey Cinnamon Buns
You can share the sweet rewards of your baking project when you make a big batch of these caramel-coated cinnamon rolls. Your friends and family will agree you've spent your time well.
Project baking doesn't necessarily require hours upon hours. Here's a showstopping pastry that's ready in about an hour, but there are plenty of lovely details to attend to all along the way, from the choux pastry to the pastry cream filling (after all, you've got time to make real pastry cream instead of the pudding used in the recipe) and the chocolate ganache drizzle. Ooh-la-la!
Canelés de Bordeaux
You could describe them as miniature custard cakes, but these classic French pastries are better described as heaven on a plate. Crunchy on the outside, meltingly tender on the inside, 100% worth it. If you can't track down the special molds used to make the pastry, Chef John says he improvised with muffin tins and they came out great. I'd trust Chef John.