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I want to spend a good chunk of time baking something delicious and slightly ambitious... what do you make when you want to bake a day away?

My birthday is coming up, and as a gift to myself, I want to spend a pretty good chunk of time in the kitchen baking something scrumptious and maaaaybe even a bit out of my league. I'm no stranger to cakes or breads, but I'm not a professional pastry chef, either. When you want to spend a long time baking--something more laborious than simple cookies or a sheet cake--what do you make? I'm open for all sorts of suggestions; anything I don't make soon, I'll probably make later anyway! Thanks!

asked by Kayleigh 11 months ago

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32 answers 1030 views
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Nancy

Nancy is a trusted home cook.

added 11 months ago

Brioche (any good recipe, but I like Julia Child's)...which, of course, can be made plain or fancy, filled, oe served with luscious jams and coffee.
Schwarzvalder kirschtorte...aka
Black Forest Cake (chocolater sponge layer cake with 2 kinds of cherries and 2 flavors of whipped cream. Oh, and did I mention the chocolate or the eau-de-vie? My go-to recipe is from CIA (not Langley; the one on the Hudson), I believe by Chef Albert Kumin.

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Ceb1cb4f 47ec 415d 95e1 ed669cd828c5  fb avatar
added 11 months ago

Ooh, a Black Forest Cake. I bet that'd be a big hit with my friends too.

Also: CIA/CIA gets me every time; I swear I always do a double-take when I read that a baker or chef was trained at the CIA...

3639eee1 5e0d 4861 b1ed 149bd0559f64  gator cake
hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

added 11 months ago

kouigns amann. i've made the recipe from the Baking Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum, and it is fantastic. Yosi Arefi posted a recipe here: https://food52.com/recipes...

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23d08e08 3b57 4e81 adcd 91701fc50809  fb avatar
added 11 months ago

Actually, any of Beranbaum's recipes are likely to take up a large chunk of the day, and can be counted on to be informative.

Ceb1cb4f 47ec 415d 95e1 ed669cd828c5  fb avatar
added 11 months ago

Oh man, do I love a good kouign amann. And the number of GOOD ones I've had has been lower than the overall intake. What a wonderful idea, thank you for the link.

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AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

added 11 months ago

Paris-Brest, a real showstopper and a bit of a stretch for many experienced home bakers. I use Alice Medrich's rice flour pastry cream and for the rest, the recipe from Cook's Illustrated, substituting almonds for hazelnuts because we just like them better. I seriously raised the bar for Christmas desserts, making one a few years ago.
If you need the Cook's Illustrated recipe, please send me a private message via my profile. I cannot post it due to copyright ownership, but I can share it individually, as that is "fair use."
Here are more details, though not the recipe I use: http://www.joyofbaking...
Cheers, and happy baking, and birthday! And what a lovely gift to yourself.
AJ ;o)

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Ceb1cb4f 47ec 415d 95e1 ed669cd828c5  fb avatar
added 11 months ago

Oh that looks lovely! I've never had Paris-Brest before but I've heard it's absolutely to die for.

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ChefJune

June is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added 11 months ago

Antonia, I was about to say the same thing. I learned it a few years ago from the fabulous Lucy Vanel at Plum Lyon school in Lyon, France. My recipe is here: https://food52.com/recipes...

84baef1b 1614 4c3d a895 e859c9d40bd1  chris in oslo
Greenstuff

Chris is a trusted source on General Cooking

added 11 months ago

Croissants or bagels? Food52 has good articles and recipes for both of them. Or if you want to go the birthday cake route, I, after encouragement from a Hotline question, had my first adventure with rolled fondant this year. It was definitely a special project. Happy birthday!

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Ceb1cb4f 47ec 415d 95e1 ed669cd828c5  fb avatar
added 11 months ago

I've never even considered making my own bagels! I love bagels and probably only have them a few times a year as fuel for long races; making them myself would bring them out of the "very occasional indulgence" realm a bit more toward "less occasional indulgence." This is an adventure worth pursuing. :D thank you!

Ceb1cb4f 47ec 415d 95e1 ed669cd828c5  fb avatar
added 11 months ago

I've never even considered making my own bagels! I love bagels and probably only have them a few times a year as fuel for long races; making them myself would bring them out of the "very occasional indulgence" realm a bit more toward "less occasional indulgence." This is an adventure worth pursuing. :D thank you!

B0e51b35 a002 4fdd adc2 f06fa947184e  baci1
HalfPint

HalfPint is a trusted home cook.

added 11 months ago

Panettone recipe by Jim Lahey

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22fd5949 f671 4eca 9819 de5858b39390  img 7382
BerryBaby

BerryBaby is trusted source on General Cooking

added 11 months ago

Chocolate Babka! Takes some time but it is SO worth it😋

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Ceb1cb4f 47ec 415d 95e1 ed669cd828c5  fb avatar
added 11 months ago

It's actually on my to-do list after seeing a recipe for it here. I've never had babka before... it looks amazing.

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added 11 months ago

Dobos Torta, a classic Hungarian cake and first choice for birthday cake in our family. It's 7 layers of sponge cake layered with a chocolate custard buttercream, and optionally topped with a thin layer of caramelized sugar. And it freezes well!
I would also be tempted to make any kind of Austro-Hungarian Torte that catches my attention. Birthdays are all about the cake!
Let us know what you decide to do...

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Ceb1cb4f 47ec 415d 95e1 ed669cd828c5  fb avatar
added 11 months ago

Here's something else I've never heard of, it sounds lovely. I'm off to check it out! Thank you for the suggestion! Everyone's ideas here have been so amazing that I now have a huge list--I'm probably going to end up making all of these at some point or another throughout the year! Oh man, are my coworkers going to love/hate me.

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QueenSashy

QueenSashy is a trusted home cook.

added 11 months ago

That is my ideal Dobosh is the culinary masterpiece and a torte worth spending the entire day in the kitchen My grandmother did 12 layers!

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added 11 months ago

I have been wanting to make Pattiserie-type mousse cake, the ones that has many different layers annd filling, and so artistically decorated, like http://freshnewengland... , http://seelenschmeichelei... , https://s-media-cache-ak0... , http://the-wandering-girl... , http://antoinette.com.sg... , http://www.prettytastycakes... , http://chloedelice.blogspot... .

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Ceb1cb4f 47ec 415d 95e1 ed669cd828c5  fb avatar
added 11 months ago

Oh those look fantastic, thanks for the links!

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PieceOfLayerCake

PieceofLayerCake is a trusted source on baking.

added 11 months ago

Anything laminated. If I want to get my hands into something, put a good bit of elbow grease into it and get something really magical afterwards, I make croissants or puff pastry or danish dough....and if its not yeasted, I make a bunch of it. A few times a year I'll just make a few pads of puff and keep it frozen. SO versatile and so worth it. With it you can make mille feuille, fruit danish/tarts, pot pies, hand pies, turnovers, kouign amann, cheesey turney straw things, etc. That's my zen.

Since its your birthday, you could build on the puff a little more and make St. Honore which brings together a few technique-driven applications like the puff, pate a choux, caramel, creme chiboust, etc. Get the piping tips out, make spun sugar or ganache or praline and just bake and decorate your little heart out. Its fun, involved and really makes an impact.

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Ceb1cb4f 47ec 415d 95e1 ed669cd828c5  fb avatar
added 11 months ago

St. Honore is something I've never heard of! These are great ideas. I've never made my own laminated doughs before and it would be such a delicious challenge.

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PieceOfLayerCake

PieceofLayerCake is a trusted source on baking.

added 11 months ago

I'll post some of my recipes for puff and pate a choux just in case you decide to use them at any point.

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PieceOfLayerCake

PieceofLayerCake is a trusted source on baking.

added 11 months ago

I'll post some of my recipes for puff and pate a choux just in case you decide to use them at any point.

Ceb1cb4f 47ec 415d 95e1 ed669cd828c5  fb avatar
added 11 months ago

Fantastic!

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Lindsay-Jean Hard

Lindsay-Jean is a Contributing Writer & Editor at Food52.

added 11 months ago

Happy early birthday! Here are a few ideas from around the site:
https://food52.com/blog...
https://food52.com/blog...
https://food52.com/recipes...
https://food52.com/recipes...
https://food52.com/recipes...
https://food52.com/recipes...

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Ceb1cb4f 47ec 415d 95e1 ed669cd828c5  fb avatar
added 11 months ago

Awesome, thank you for the links!

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
added 11 months ago

Babka! Bagels! Homemade puff pastry!

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23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
added 11 months ago

It's not as fancy as some of these other suggestions, but I love to make challah when I have a little bit of time. I use the recipe in Smitten Kitchen's cookbook (https://smittenkitchen...) and it is so beautiful when it comes out of the oven. I would love to tackle croissants one day but need to have somewhere to bring them :)

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Ceb1cb4f 47ec 415d 95e1 ed669cd828c5  fb avatar
added 11 months ago

I've been getting more and more into baking bread lately, but never made challah, and the recipe you linked also looks like something my husband would just kill for (any bread with sea salt on top is a winner for him). Thanks!

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Nancy

Nancy is a trusted home cook.

added 11 months ago

In addition to more-or-less basic challah (like the one linked), there are others wirh anise (Joan Nathan), Sephardic with while spices (Uri Scheft), Peshwari (with coconut, raysin, nuts and Indian spices), chocolate (which overlaps with babka).
Not to mention a James Beard recipe for chalkahvmadecwith mashed potatoes.
If you're interested, I can provide links.

23d08e08 3b57 4e81 adcd 91701fc50809  fb avatar
added 11 months ago

Cookies were hardly the first thing I thought of when I saw this question, but I recently passed a good hunk of a cold day making Ischler cookies. I used Maida Heatter's dough recipe- she does it by hand, starting by blanching a couple of cups of almonds- the dough is similar to a Linzer dough (note- Heatter says to roll to 1'4", which is too thick). For filling I made a Lekhvar from a recipe (Polish Christmas Cookies, from this site)- after making the cookies and putting them together (it's a sandwich cookie) and half the sandwich is dipped in chocolate- all of this takes quite a bit of time (and makes a considerable mess). Then, you should have enough of the Lekhvar left over to make a load of Rugelach in the afternoon (both of these doughs need refrigeration). Rose Levy Beranbaum (who needs a shorter name- Rosie B.?) also has aan Ischler cookie recipe that's pretty good- and a bit different- but I like this one.

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C0dbb6d7 2f98 4938 8afc 6e38e44f1cdb  open uri20141123 21157 1qg7dxu
added 11 months ago

Macarons! When we were snowed/iced in over the last week I made 5 batches trying to perfect my method. My freezer is filled with yummy cookies. I really didn't need cookies after the holidays but when you're stuck inside...

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