Mix, knead, rise, shape, rise again, bake, rest—the long list of steps required by some baking projects can seem unapproachable to someone without a lot of experience. But don't let that intimidate you, because they often don't take as much effort as you might think. A recipe that lists 25 hours total prep time isn't so scary when you realize that only 30 minutes of that is time spent actually working. Because many of these projects will stretch into two-day affairs, weekends provide the perfect opportunity to tackle the breads, rolls, and desserts that you'd never think of trying to squeeze in during the week.
Want something that you can get done a little faster? We've also thrown in a few recipes that you can fit into a single Saturday. Whether you can set aside six hours or 36, keep reading for 15 of our favorite recipes to cozy up to over a weekend.
This unusual recipe uses a Japanese technique called yukone—precooking some of the flour with water to create a paste of gelatinized starch—to make perfectly browned bagels, with an eggshell-thin crust covered in tiny blisters. They also have a much longer shelf life than most. The bagels need to proof for 24 to 36 hours between shaping and baking, so get started Friday night if you want to have them ready to eat on Sunday morning.
Old-Fashioned, No-Knead English Muffins
Our English muffins require much less equipment than you might expect—you don't need a stand mixer, a rolling pin, or, for that matter, an oven! We whisk and shape the dough by hand before cooking it on a griddle to give each muffin a wonderfully crisp crust. The dough has to rise twice—the first time for at least four hours, the second for at least 12—so schedule accordingly.
Overnight Brown-Butter Yeast-Raised Waffles
The batter for these waffles needs to sit overnight, but don't let that trick you into thinking this is a complicated recipe—it requires only 10 minutes of active time. The evening before, brown a few tablespoons of butter to develop those toasty aromas, then mix in the rest of the ingredients and give it a night in the fridge. In the morning, your waffles will turn out with a nutty, more complex flavor and a chewy texture.
One-Bowl, Overnight Cinnamon Rolls
These classic cinnamon rolls, filled with pecans and smothered with gooey cream cheese frosting, get their light, tender texture from an overnight rise in the fridge, as well as Greek yogurt mixed into the dough. Though the recipe is completed in a few different stages and requires some assembly, these fluffy rolls aren't all that difficult to make. A word of advice: The puffy dough will get squished by even the sharpest knife, so cut the rolls with butcher's twine (or unflavored dental floss) instead.
Cuñapes/Pão de Queijo (South American Cheesy Bread)
Pão de queijo, cuñapes, pan de bono—these cheesy South American rolls are delicious by any name. The bread gets its chewy texture from tapioca starch; while Thai brands are the most common in the US, it's worth seeking out Brazilian fermented tapioca starch for lighter, slightly tangy rolls. As for the cheese, we find a mix of cheddar and Grana Padano to be the best substitute for Mexican queso fresco.
The Best Dinner Rolls (Fluffy, Crusty, and Chewy)
Remember yukone, the Japanese technique that gives our bagels their magical longevity? We use it again here to make our dinner rolls extra tender. In another move borrowed from those bagels, we also boil the rolls before baking, to help them get well browned and crispy. Serve them alongside your favorite winter soup, or use them to make especially satisfying sandwiches.
Easy No-Knead Olive-Rosemary Focaccia With Pistachios
If you've ever shied away from baking because it seems like too much work, this is the recipe for you. It takes just 15 minutes of active time to make this focaccia, thanks to a high-hydration dough, which both stretches out and develops gluten all by itself during an overnight rest. Though you can get creative with flavorings, we like a combination of sliced olives, fresh rosemary, and lightly crushed pistachios.
Easy Roasted-Garlic Focaccia
This recipe puts a garlic-bread twist on our basic no-knead focaccia. We incorporate the garlic in two ways—whole cloves of roasted garlic pressed into the dough and garlic butter brushed on top. Baking the bread at very high heat encourages oven spring and creates those crunchy micro blisters on the surface.
The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yes, you can make an excellent batch of chocolate chip cookies in just 45 minutes. But if you've never tried a batch of the chewy, crisp-edged cookies that Kenji spent months perfecting, you don't know what you're missing. Resting the dough for a day or so allows its proteins and starch to break down, giving the cookies a more complex, butterscotch-y flavor. Browning the butter doesn't hurt, either.
Simple Crusty White Bread
This versatile white loaf, perfect for either sandwiches or snacking, comes together in an afternoon and is a great recipe for first-time bread-makers. The recipe makes two loaves, but we provide the right ratios of ingredients to make it easy to scale up or down as you choose. Beginners may want to check out our Breadmaking 101 series, which clearly walks you through all the steps: mixing, proofing, shaping, and baking.
The Best Challah
Making this homemade challah definitely takes a little patience, as the bread needs to rise three separate times. You can speed up the last (and longest) rise, which takes six hours at cool room temperature, by leaving the bread near a warm oven. The reward for all your waiting, though, will be two magnificent loaves that are fluffy and golden inside from the egg-rich dough and burnished brown outside. Our recipe includes a video guide to braiding the challah, too.
Gluten-Free Potato Bread
The secret to this potato bread is our gluten-free flour blend, a mix of starches and flours that can be used as a 1:1 replacement for all-purpose flour in any recipe. Making the bread with starchy russet potatoes keeps it moist and gives it extra flavor.
Cemitas (Mexican Sesame Seed Sandwich Buns)
Whether you're making a traditional cemita sandwich, an Americanized Roosevelt Avenue–style one, or even a cemita-inspired burger, the cemita roll is one of our favorite sandwich buns of all time. The brioche-like Pueblan bread is moist and tender, but has enough heft to stand up to whatever fillings you want to stuff inside it. An egg wash, followed by a generous sprinkling of sesame seeds and sea salt, turns the rolls glossy and adds flavor.
Soft Bread Salami Rolls
Our riff on a New England steak bomb is made on what appear to be pretty basic sandwich rolls, with a tender crumb and crisp exterior. But turn one of them over, and you're in for a treat—we bake each one on a thin slice of salami that crisps up in the oven. For even more meaty flavor, brush the rolls with rendered beef fat before baking.
Homemade Fig Newtons
Commercials for Fig Newtons used to hinge on the tagline "A cookie is just a cookie, but Newtons are fruit and cake." Turns out, that's not just a marketing slogan but a helpful guideline for baking your own at home, too. Though these classic American snacks may look like cookies, to mimic the flavor and texture of the original, you'll need a soft, egg yolk–enriched dough inspired by yellow cake. Dried-fig purée, rather than fig jam, gives the filling a concentrated fruit flavor. Preparing the Newtons isn't that time-consuming, but they need to sit for about six hours to develop their moist, cake-like texture.