'Guest Star' on Serious Eats

Maida's Big Apple Pie

This big free-standing pastry partially encloses a cinnamon and brown sugar-scented cooked apple filling. It's great for a crowd—in fact, it's perfect for Thanksgiving if you have a lot of people over. Best of all, it's baked on a big round pizza pan or cookie sheet, so you don't need any special equipment. More

Sicilian Fig Bars

Although fig bars are standard American fare, fig-filled cookies are also very traditional in Sicily, where they are called cucidati. I've decided to merge the two and make a fig bar that is shaped like the industrially-made one, but has some typical Sicilian seasonings in it for extra flavor. More

Orange-Scented Olive Oil Cake

This is a great dessert to make if you're expecting a crowd; it makes 2 cakes with one batter that's easily mixed. The best part is that they can be made days in advance, wrapped, and frozen, so you don't have to fuss any more than defrosting the cakes and making some whipped cream before you serve them. More

Chocolate-Buckwheat-Almond Cake

Pairing buckwheat with chocolate may seem odd until you try it. Both are smoky, earthy, velvety and strong, making them perfectly suited for the others' company. I like to have a gluten-free chocolate option in my repertoire that's not the clich├ęd torte, which can be too heavy for a lot of occasions. This cake is also great for laid-back Passover Seders. (But don't make the mistake I did of trying it out on the more Orthodox side of my family.) More

Lemon Seed Cake

Lemon seed cake will keep, wrapped well, refrigerated for up to 10 days. I like it best the next day because its flavors tend to marry and the cake moistens, but who can say no to a slice of just-baked cake with sticky glaze? More

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