Getting a stand mixer is a milestone in a baker's life—it's big, expensive, and opens up a whole world of cakes, breads, and more. The classic
Cookies and Brownies
You could stir up all the ingredients for our dried cranberry (or cherry)–flecked oatmeal cookies, portion the dough, and bake them right away, but making the best oatmeal cookies takes a little patience. We rest the portioned dough for about half an hour so that the warm butter can hydrate the oats, for extra-tender cookies.
These cookies were born out of a happy accident—when an attempt to make brown-butter ricotta cookies went wrong, we were left with thin cookies with chewy middles, crispy edges, and a ridiculously nutty flavor. Note that the color will be different depending on what kind of ricotta you use, but the cookies will be delicious regardless of their hue.
These elegant tea-cakes are as easy as they are impressive—you do need a specialized pan for baking, but the batter comes together with just a whisk. You can experiment with all sorts of flavors, but for this classic recipe we go with a hint of almond extract and brush the finished cookies with an apricot-jam glaze.
A great food processor can cost as much as a stand mixer, but
I'll be honest—I had never even heard of a lemon meltaway until Stella developed this recipe. The first time I tried one I was shocked by the ethereally light texture, which is almost like a cross between lemon shortbread and cotton candy. Many lemon meltaways get their texture from cornstarch, but we think that makes the cookies unpleasantly chalky. Tapioca starch loses its starchy flavor in the oven and makes for a far superior cookie.
We're cheating a little with these cookies—you make them without a mixer, but also without an oven. Whether or not they count as baked goods, you'll love these chewy, creamy cookies. They start with a peanut butter fudge, which we combine with oats (a combination of rolled oats and instant oatmeal gives the cookies the best texture). Then it's just a matter of portioning out the cookies and letting them cool.
It's hard to beat the convenience of brownie mix, but we think the flavor of store-bought mixes leaves a lot to be desired. Our solution is to grind up powdered sugar, dark chocolate, all-purpose flour, Dutch cocoa powder, malted milk powder, salt, and espresso powder and add solid coconut oil, which creates a shelf-stable brownie mix that will last up to a year in your pantry. When a craving hits, just combine the mix with water, eggs, and vanilla extract and bake.
These cookies—inspired by the shatteringly crisp Tate's brand ones we love so much—have a bold butterscotch flavor, and are studded with generous morsels of chocolate. Using a food processor to combine the dry ingredients with cold butter gives the cookies their delicate texture.
Cocoa butter lends these vegan brownies an aromatic quality, while a hint of malt powder makes them toasty and nutty. With a little help from soy milk powder, these brownies bake up with a beautifully glossy top and a rich, fudgy center.
These fruity oat bars are inspired by Icelandic Hjónabandssæla, but will likely remind you of American bar cookies in execution. Plenty of butter and rolled oats in both the crust and the crumb topping ensures the fruit in these bars is balanced by a hearty richness.
Cakes and Pies
A cake recipe with no stand mixer, no whipping, no foamed eggs, and no meringue might sound too good to be true, but trust us when we say that simply stirring everything together works. The cake gets its intense flavor from acidic ingredients like coffee and brown sugar, which activate the baking soda in the batter and help the cake rise. Be sure to use Dutch process cocoa powder for the richest flavor.
Want an even easier cake? This recipe is a revelation for weeknight baking, turning our devil's food cake into a one-pan dessert by letting you make the batter and bake the cake in the same cast iron skillet. We finish the cake with a creamy milk chocolate ganache, which we also make with the same cast iron skillet to minimize cleanup.
The batter for this decadent molten chocolate cake comes together in less than 10 minutes with just a whisk, spatula and six ingredients that you might already have at your home: unsalted butter, semisweet chocolate, powdered sugar, an egg, all-purpose flour and a pinch of salt. Use your imagination decorating the cake—whipped cream, strawberries, and caramel sauce are all good choices.
Making pie crust might seem intimidating, but you can do it in just half an hour with no special tools. Once you have mastered the crust then you can easily make all sorts of pies. For this recipe, we macerate apples with brown sugar and spices in a plastic bag then mix in tapioca starch to make the filling. You read that right—the filling comes together in a plastic bag with no cooking necessary.
Perfect fruit pie is a matter of science—the perfect ratio of fruit to sugar to tapioca starch will make a filling that is thick enough to slice without being dry or gloppy. Here we use a combination of wild and cultivated blueberries, but the same technique works with cherries and mixed fruit too.
It takes less than an hour to put together this fluffy olive oil cake, making it an ideal last-minute dessert. Instead of using a neutral, mid-grade olive oil, we put a pungent, rich one front and center so its flavor and aroma shine. Try pairing this wonderfully easy cake with fresh fruit, a dollop of ice cream, or a light scattering of toasted nuts.
In this olive oil-based cake, the oil's grassy flavor quite as prominently. Instead, brown sugar, Dutch cocoa powder, and black coffee make for a dark, rich, intense chocolate cake.
Making a pie doesn't require a stand mixer, but it does require a pie tin. A galette is basically just a rustic pie—you start with the same dough but bake it on a sheet pan. This galette is filled with sweet, mellow pears that we flavor with vanilla bean, ground cardamom, and Chinese five-spice powder. Because a galette is thinner than a pie, it only takes about 35 minutes to cook.
My favorite part of a pie is the filling—I could take or leave the crust, so I find myself making pies less often than biscuit-topped cobbler. This version is made with blackberries—if the berries aren't sweet enough then try mixing them with raspberries. Our secret ingredient is cinnamon, which intensifies the flavor of the blackberries.
Speaking of biscuits, this recipe is one of my favorites. We make it with yogurt rather than buttermilk, which Yankees like me rarely keep on hand. You have to use more yogurt than you would buttermilk to properly hydrate the dough, which could make the biscuits overly dense—a little baking soda neutralizes the extra acidity and ensures a perfect rise. Cooking the biscuits in a cast iron skillet gives them a golden bottom crust.
These scones come together in just 35 minutes, making them perfect for a weekend morning when you aren't looking for a huge project. We make them with multiple kinds of of dairy to get the taste and texture just right—cream helps the scones brown, but butter keeps them nice and light. While we love dark chocolate, milk chocolate is a better match for the lightly sweetened dough.
For a long time, I only knew Irish soda bread as a dry, crumbly accompaniment to industrial corned beef and sulfurous cabbage in mediocre pubs. Real Irish soda bread, on the other hand, has a soft crumb and crackling crust perfect for mopping up beef stew. Buttermilk gives this bread a chewy but tender texture, while baking soda keeps it from tasting unpleasantly tangy.
We find most zucchini bread recipes to be a little too sweet and greasy. Simply cutting back on the sugar and oil would jeopardize the bread's tender, cake-like structure, so we use Greek yogurt to provide fat and acidity. This recipe calls for mixing a cup of crushed walnuts into the dough, but you don't have to stop there—a teaspoon of minced rosemary is a wonderfully aromatic addition.
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