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10 delicious baked goods you can easily make at home

By Inés Fung 17 April 2020

You’ve scrolled to the end of your feed, caught up on all your favourite TV shows, even done a home workout or two… but staying at home can get real boring real quick. There’s no better time to pick up a new hobby than right now, and what’s better than a hobby with delicious results?

Even if you’re a total baking beginner, all you knead is a desire to bake your home into a better place! You butter tell your friends and family to back off these cakes, breads, and pastries. If you’ve got an oven at home, try your hand at baking some of these fail-proof recipes to satisfy those quarantine cravings.

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Flour substitutes

First, it was masks and hand sanitiser, then it was toilet paper, and now it’s… flour? We’ve noticed a shortage of white flour and all-purpose flour in supermarkets all over Hong Kong, but it’s one of the main ingredients in any sort of baking, so what are we to do? We’ve rounded up a few flour substitutes to get you through this dire time, but they also work just as well when baking for your gluten-free loved ones.

Rice flour

Rice flour is just finely milled white or brown rice, and you can even make this at home if you have your own blender or grain mill. It’s naturally gluten-free, minimally processed, and can be used in combination with other flours when baking in addition to thickening up sauces in cooking. It’s also rich in fibre and protein. You’ll be able to find rice flour in most supermarkets here, but be sure to get the finest grain possible.

Whole-wheat flour

Whole-wheat flour is a coarse-textured flour containing parts from the whole-wheat berry: bran, germ, and endosperm, which makes it higher in fibre, iron, protein, and calcium than white flour. Whole-wheat flour can be used to make heavier textured bread and baked goods, and also imparts a nutty flavour to your baked goods.

Spelt flour

Spelt is an ancient whole grain that’s recently seen a resurgence in popularity as a health food. It has a nutty flavour, and its nutritional content is similar to whole wheat, but with a higher zinc and protein content. It’s high in carbs and is a great source of fibre as well.

Spelt flour produces light and airy baked goods despite being a whole grain, but an important thing to note is that it doesn’t absorb as much liquid as other flours so you’ll have to play around with reducing the amount of liquid to keep your dough from getting too sticky.

Nut flours

Nut flours are made from grinding raw or dried nuts into a fine powdery meal. You can find nut flour made from most mainstream nuts such as almond, chestnut, and hazelnut. Nut flours add moistness and density to your baked goods, and can be used in place of wheat or other types of gluten-free flours. Usually less is more since nut flours are denser than most. Experiment with different nut flours to find one with a flavour that best suits your recipe.

Rye flour

Rye flour is the only flour aside from wheat that can be used on its own to make yeast-raised breads. There’s two kinds: white rye and dark rye, with white rye being more popular. It’s actually still the most popular flour used in Germany!

Rye flour is also more nutritious than wheat flour as it has a higher bran content as well as high levels of proteins and amino acids. Though most commonly used in bread baking, rye flour can be used in desserts and cooking as well, with its unique slightly sour flavour and coarse texture.

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Baking 101

Now that you have your flour (whichever kind it may be), it’s time to get down to (baking) business. See below for our top picks for the easiest baking recipes to make at home, from bread, biscuits, and cookies to cakes and pastries!
1

Flourless chocolate cake

Still can’t get any flour? This flourless chocolate cake recipe requires none at all, and it’s even (slightly) healthier than a regular chocolate cake. The cake gets its flavour and density from an airy baked chocolate custard and all you need to do is chuck and mix less than 10 basic ingredients in a bowl, and voilà, you have a treat that’s sure to impress not only yourself but whoever you serve it to.

If you really want to jazz it up, whip some cream or make a chocolate ganache (melt chocolate and cream together) to pour over top.

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Brownies

Everyone has their own brownie preference: fudgey, cakey, chewy, nuts or no nuts… but you know what? They’re all delicious. Every beginner baker should have a brownie recipe up their sleeve, and we don’t mean buying box mix.

This recipe only requires six ingredients for a gooey fudge brownie with a classic crinkly top that’ll blow box mix out of the water, and best of all, you can add whatever mix-ins you like for the brownie of your dreams. Just remember not to over-mix or over-bake, and at least try and wait before cutting into a slice.

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Cheesecake

Baking a cheesecake is one of those recipes that seem intimidating at first, but once you get down to it, you realise it’s easy peasy lemon squeezy. Speaking of lemons, you can add a squeeze of lemon juice into this recipe for a little tang, but the recipe itself is a great jump-off point for a simple cheesecake.

You can easily make your own crust by substituting digestives for graham crackers, and the four ingredients needed for the cheesecake filling you probably already have in your fridge (or maybe that’s just us and our obsession with cream cheese on bagels).

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4

Galette

Don’t let its fancy French name fool you—a galette is much easier to make than you think, even easier than making pie! A galette is a freeform pastry that can be filled with sweet and savory ingredients, so any fruit or salad mix and even cheese that needs to be used up is perfect!

Making a pastry dough from scratch may seem daunting, but all there is to making a galette base is just a lot of rolling and folding. No worries if you don’t have a bench scraper like the recipe calls for; it just means your job may be a little messier.

5

Peanut butter cookies

Fun fact: Peanut butter cookies are actually of Canadian origin! These soft rustic treats are fun for the whole family to make, and are ready to eat in two shakes of a lamb’s tail. All you need for this recipe are three ingredients: peanut butter, an egg, and sugar, so no worries if you don’t have flour.

If you use crunchy peanut butter, it adds another layer of texture to your cookies. The most fun part is pressing your fork on top of the dough to make that classic criss-cross pattern before you send them into the oven, and you can toss in some chocolate chips, too.

6

Chocolate chip cookies

Like the brownie, everyone has their own chocolate chip cookie preference. The end result is dependent on what type of flour, sugar, and butter you use: For example, if you use brown sugar instead of white, your cookies will come out more caramelised and with a browner crust.

For a soft chocolate chip cookie you can whip up in less than 20 minutes, and requires no chilling or electric mixer, this recipe is great for beginners until you perfect your own chocolate chip cookie recipe. If you want your cookies to come out evenly sized, use a spoon or ice cream scoop to measure out your dough before placing on the baking sheet.

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7

Strawberry shortcake

As the weather heats up, strawberries come back into season, and what better way to eat them than in a classic strawberry shortcake? A traditional strawberry shortcake is made with fluffy biscuits (the American kind, not shortbread and digestives as we know biscuits to be), and it’s easier than you think to make from scratch.

For this recipe, we’ve been able to cut the butter into the dry ingredients without a pastry cutter or food processor, our alternative being a fork and a lot of patience, and if you can’t find buttermilk, heavy cream from the box works too. The strawberries don’t need any work except coating with sugar to let its juices flow, and you can also skip making whipped cream by getting a can of ready-made whip.

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Banana bread

What do you do with a bunch of overripe bananas? Make banana bread, of course! The browner and more spotted your bananas are, the better, as the sugars in them will make for a richer and sweeter bread.

This recipe requires all the classic ingredients, but the process of making banana bread is also extremely forgiving: You can make it without eggs, you can use different kinds of flour, and if you don’t have milk, you can use water... the alternatives go on and on. Make sure you’ve got a loaf pan, though, or you won’t get the classic banana bread shape.

Photo credit: A Stack of Dishes
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No-knead bread

Bread is a type of baking that many people hesitate to make a foray into, but with this no-knead bread recipe, you’ll wonder why you didn’t start earlier. The key to perfecting this recipe is patience: Even though you don’t need to knead the dough, you will need 24 hours in total for it to proof properly, and lots of time in between for flouring and resting.

It’s a tedious process, but once you get into it, you’ll realise baking a loaf of bread isn’t as hard as it seems, and you’ll have your flat smelling like a bakery in no time.

10

Focaccia

Focaccia is another no-knead bread recipe that’s perfect for beginners, and while your Italian friend’s nonna may not approve, it’s still an impressive bread to serve up alongside soup and stew, or made into a sandwich.

Focaccia is similar to a pizza dough, but instead of tomato sauce and toppings, you drizzle the rested dough with copious amounts of olive oil, flakey salt, and dried herbs (we like rosemary). You can make focaccia ahead of time and bake when you’re ready, if you’ve not got time before dinner to wait around for the dough to proof.

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Inés Fung

Contributor

Currently based in Hong Kong by way of Calgary, Inés has always had a passion for writing and her creative work can be found in obscure literary ’zines. When she’s not busy scouring the city for the best gin-based cocktail, she can be found curled up with her journal and fur-ever friend Peanut. Don’t be surprised if you cross paths with her and she already knows all your mates.

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