Here are 5 things you should definitely try to make while you’re quarantine baking

A caramel cheesecake with toffee topping
A caramel cheesecake with toffee topping Photo: Bil Browning

Sourdough-mania has taken over #quarantinebaking this week, but what good is a loaf of bread when you’re having a post-COVID party? You’ve got people to impress.

With extra time on your hand, you’ve been practicing your skills and according to social media, you’re now an expert. At least, I am. So it’s time to show us the goods. Here are five recipes – including one from my family – sure to challenge any baker.

Related: Americans have started quarantine baking & the gays are doing it with their shirts off

The Great British Bake Off gave Americans flour fever, and I’m no exception. I picked up a spatula and haven’t looked back. It’s great stress relief and there’s a tasty payoff at the end.

(Why, yes, the main photo for this article is a salted caramel cheesecake with homemade toffee bits on top that I made. Thanks for asking. I’m so happy you noticed.)

I have successfully made all of these concoctions using recipes and videos I found online as instructions. So if you’re not a seasoned pro either, I can guarantee they’re a challenge. The projects get progressively harder as they go until you end up with a recipe for Angel Food Pie written in my mother’s shorthand.

Good luck with that one, let me tell you.

If you pull it off, be sure to show us the end result on our Facebook page. You can find some more of my creations over on Instagram.

Even if your attempt flops, don’t be too hard on yourself. Remember, this is new to all of us.

Coconut cake with marshmallow fluff icing and raspberry filling

This is the first cake I made. It’s a standard cake, but I recommend making your own raspberry jam instead of the raspberry buttercream for the filling.

And, seriously, save that marshmallow fluff icing recipe. It’s particularly good on a moist chocolate cake too.

Lemon and pistachio checkerboard cookies

These look more intimidating than they actually are. Really, they were remarkably easy. But they look sorta fancy and only require a few ingredients. If you can make sugar cookies, you can make this arts and crafts version.

Salted caramel cheesecake with toffee topping

My husband asked for the perfect salted caramel cheesecake for his birthday and this is what he got.

Making caramel is not my strong point and when you throw in toffee as well, there’s a good chance I’ll end up with a lot of burnt sugar and a blister on my finger. Okay, I did. It took five attempts to make that caramel.

I didn’t have any toffee crumbles during a lockdown, so I made my own. (It only took one attempt!) Just don’t cover all of the toffee with chocolate and you’ll end up with an extra treat to go with the crumbles.


My baking has mostly focused on sweets, but nothing beats a good croissant. Technically it’s bread, I know, but it’s made so differently, I’m gonna toss it in as a challenge.

I ran across this video from Joshua Weissman’s cooking channel on YouTube and used it to create my own. He has a basic recipe in the video’s description, but it took a few times of watching and adding notes before I had it all together.

All in all, it wasn’t as hard as I had expected. It takes forever and a day, but it’s not a lot of actual work. It’s a lot of waiting.

Angel food pie

Okay, now that you’ve made it all the way down here, I’mabe honest. I have never successfully made this and I’ve tried for years.

It’s a family recipe and only gets made for Thanksgiving and Christmas. My husband can do it, but he cheated by calling my mom and getting step-by-step directions. Silly me, I tried to use the recipe she gave me.

Mom's recipe for Angel Food Pie
Mom’s recipe for Angel Food Pie Jean Dow

Still need help? Since you can’t call mom, he’s offering up his own advice.

  • Low heat means low heat. Expect to be stirring for a while; when it says “continuously” it means it. If you stop for a minute it’s ruined. It’ll take about 20-25 minutes for the base to thicken.
  • It should be about as thick as corn syrup and smooth when you take it off the heat. It’s the timing that matters. Do it too quickly or slowly and it’ll end up “angel food soup” in the end.
  • Let it cool completely before adding the stiffened egg whites, but make sure to combine the two within 45 minutes to an hour.
  • Use Wick’s pie crusts if you can find them. They really do make a difference (and they’re made in Bil’s hometown!). Whatever you do, don’t use a cheap thin pie crust.
  • “Chopped nuts” means finely chopped walnuts to Bil’s mom. I’ve done the pies with chocolate shavings, chocolate syrup, and plain. Be creative with this part. Make it your own.
  • The pies should be chilled immediately after adding the whipped cream topping. Chill for a few hours before serving; the base should be firm but a little fluffy.

And if that’s still not good enough, here’s the lone video I found about how to make it. It’s not quite the same, but it’s close enough that you’ll get the idea.

Good luck baking. And, remember, leave me a photo of your own creations on our Facebook page. Stay safe.

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