Everyone responds differently to stress and anxiety, but it’s not uncommon to want to bake when things feel uncertain (or downright scary). With , quarantine and self-isolation the watchwords of the moment, it’s prime time for self-soothing measures too. So if you’re apt to tie on an apron and turn on your oven when you’re in need of comfort, we have some easy baking recipes you can make with pantry staples.
See all of our sister site Chowhound’s COVID-19 coverage for more information on what you can do when it comes to food, including for others in need right now — and remember to wash your hands often. Then get them dirty with flour and butter and feel a little calmer, at least for a while.
Take pleasure in feeding your family too, if you’re all at home together. If you’re more isolated and feeling lonely, consider making a virtual date with a friend (or your grandma) to both bake something sweet — or savory — then hop on a video chat while you snack, have a cup of coffee or tea and catch up.
Most of these recipes do call for eggs, milk and butter, but not all of them do. And none are complicated, because for most of us, that’s the last thing we need right now.
Brownies are one of the simplest yet most satisfying sweets to make, and this version is pretty basic — but if you don’t have any chocolate chips or baking bars in the pantry, swap in a mix of cocoa powder, butter and sugar instead. Get Chowhound’s easy brownie recipe. (And if you have even more supplies on hand, see 11 ways to upgrade your brownies.)
Raspberry cake slices
This small-scale dessert from from Scandi Bites by Trine Hahnemann is perfect if you don’t have anyone around to help eat your baked goods and aren’t great at self-imposed portion control (um, hello). The jam is made with frozen berries, but you can also simply spread on some store-bought stuff from the jar in your fridge. And while the pink sprinkles are delightful, you can use regular sanding sugar, turbinado sugar or whatever you have left from decorating Christmas cookies — or nothing at all. Get the raspberry cake slices recipe.
Peanut butter jelly bars
Similarly comforting but yielding a bigger batch, these one-bowl peanut butter and jelly bars are perfect if you’re home with kids; they can help you bake the bars, and they’ll love the familiar PB&J flavors in dessert form. Use any jam or jelly you have on hand. Get Chowhound’s peanut butter jelly bars recipe.
Easy banana bread
If you have bananas that are going spotty, you know what to do: Make Chowhound’s easy banana bread recipe. If yours aren’t ripe yet, you’ll have to wait a while — but this is why it’s worth getting in the habit of freezing any overripe bananas so you’re ready to bake banana bread any time you fancy. (And depending on what’s in your fridge and pantry, consider stuffed banana bread or banana bread mix-ins.)
Chocolate chip cookies
Practically perfect in every way, chocolate chip cookies are always welcome — and the methodical nature of scooping out the dough is sort of like . If you have chocolate bars but no chips, just chop those up and mix them in. Get Chowhound’s chocolate chip cookie recipe (and see 15 of the best chocolate chip cookie recipes ever, no matter what your texture preferences). If you prefer to eat the unbaked cookies, see how to make edible cookie dough that’s safe to eat raw.
Peanut butter trail mix cookies
These easy, vegan, gluten-free cookies (sweetened with maple syrup) are packed with protein, so you can feel good about snacking on them even in the a.m. They’re also highly adaptable — use another nut or seed butter, swap in agave nectar or honey for the syrup if you’re out and if you don’t have trail mix, stir up any combo of nuts, seeds, dried fruit or chocolate to make up the 1/2 cup total. Get the peanut butter trail mix cookie recipe.
Mocha pudding cake
If only something deep, dark and super rich will do, this foolproof, dump-and-stir, one-bowl cake is here for you. It separates into three layers as it bakes: a crusty top, cakey middle and gooey pudding-like base. If you don’t want to include the brewed coffee, see some ideas for substitutions. And if you’re out of fresh milk, try full-fat canned coconut milk in its place. Get Chowhound’s mocha pudding cake recipe.
Chocolate crazy cake
No butter or eggs? No problem. “Crazy cakes” were popular during the Great Depression and wartime because they required no dairy — nowadays, that makes them good vegan options too. In lieu of frosting, you can simply dust the whole thing with powdered sugar, pour some caramel sauce over your slice on the plate or break out the ice cream. Get the chocolate crazy cake recipe.
Easy skillet cornbread
If you’re making a big pot of chili to last the week, there’s no better partner than skillet cornbread. And if you only have regular milk, you can sour it with a little lemon juice or vinegar to use in place of the buttermilk that’s called for. Get Chowhound’s cornbread recipe.
Muffin pan popovers
These make for a fun, mini-souffle-esque side to any number of savory dinners, but also work as breakfast with a smear of jam. Best of all, you only need six ingredients and a standard muffin pan to make them. Get Chowhound’s muffin pan popovers recipe.
Onion poppy seed quick bread
A bakery-style loaf of crusty no-knead bread is well worth making, but if you’re still leery of working with yeast (or just don’t have any in your pantry), try a savory quick bread instead. This one is speckled with caramelized onions and poppy seeds. Toast it as a side for soup, eat a slice with butter as a snack or use it for an upgraded grilled cheese. Get Chowhound’s onion poppy seed quick bread recipe.