Holiday Entertaining

14 Essential Baked Goods Every Baker Should Master

March 20, 2015

Thanks to Erin McDowell, baking has never been easier. She is a complete boss in the kitchen, knocking gorgeous pies, towering cakes, and sparkling cookies out of the ballpark.

Erin writes an authoritative recipe, but she's also sweet enough to hold our hands through the scary processes of doughnut-making, bread-kneading, and sugar and candy work. Mastering these techniques breeds confidence, and that in turn enables us to be better bakers and adjust to our own tastes. It's nice to have a friend who will tell you why certain steps should be done a certain way, not just to do to them because she says so. 

Pull out your best apron, find your flour, and temper your eggs: These are the recipes you'll want to integrate into your everyday routine. You never know when you'll be called on to make a cake, cut biscuits, or roll flatbread. From soup to nuts -- er, from tatin to pavlova -- here are 14 of Erin's quintessential recipes:

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Angel Food Cake


Hot Dog and Hamburger Buns


Grilled Flatbreads






Tarte Tatin




Buttermilk Biscuits


Custard Pie


Sugar Cookies


Banana Bread


Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread





What recipes should beginner bakers master? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

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Mei Chin

Written by: Mei Chin

Let's have dinner sometime. There will be champagne and ice cream for sure; everything else is up in the air.


Anna August 11, 2019
Macrons anyone?
deflet July 21, 2019
What?! No cheesecake, or cinnamon rolls?? For shame...
Tiffany H. July 8, 2018
What happened to the link for Brownies??
Bernadette P. May 22, 2015
Croissant and almond croissant for sure
The O. March 24, 2015
..... and pavlova and focaccia pesto!
Nicholas March 22, 2015
A pretty arbitrary list, wouldn't you say?
Kelsey S. March 22, 2015
I would include white cake and chocolate chip cookies.
Millie |. March 22, 2015
I feel like banana bread and brownies are a must - I love making banana bread with overripe bananas - it's the best!
jane.coombs88 March 20, 2015
How does this list stack up against the challenges home bakers faced on the Great British Bake Off? It was telecast before Downton Abbey and it blew my mind at what they were asked to prepare in a short time and on tv.
Janet March 22, 2015
The Great British Bake Off was fantastic! I hope there will be a competition every year. The contestants were lovely and talented, unlike their American counterparts on similar shows. Sorry this isn't about the Food 52 article.
Allison K. March 20, 2015
I feel like this is pretty much every baked good...
Olga B. March 20, 2015
Pavlova is great! But it is way better to decorate it with raspberry
Diane V. March 20, 2015
How about pretzels? And I've never seen, never mind eaten, pavlova. Just my thoughts.
Bradley M. March 20, 2015
I think you forgot sourdough bread and croissants!