The Kitchn's Best Baking Lessons of 2015

Cooking Lessons from The Kitchn

Roll up your sleeves and break out the apron — it's time to start baking! This year we covered some of the major must-know baking recipes and perennial favorites like a classic chewy brownie. So next time it comes to working with puff pastry, making an ice cream cake, or whipping up a sky-high chocolate soufflé, you won't have to even bat an eye.

1. How To Make a Chocolate Soufflé

Soufflés are incredibly alluring and charming in their very simplicity. Eggs are separated into yolks and whites. The yolks get whisked into a rich, flavorful base — in this case, melted chocolate — while the whites get whipped to stiff peaks. Fold the whites into the base, transfer it to cups, and bake.

2. How To Make Pâte Sablée for Tarts and Pastries

Pâte sablée is a classic French shortcrust pastry dough that, once baked, becomes the base for any tart you can imagine, including lemon tarts, chocolate tarts, and tarts made with almond frangipane. Fully bake the tart crust, and you can fill it with whatever you're craving!

3. How To Make Puff Pastry from Scratch

Puff pastry is made from hundreds of paper-thin layers of butter trapped between hundreds of paper-thin layers of dough. In the oven, the liquid in both the butter and the dough rapidly evaporates, puffing the individual layers skyward. The butter melts into the dough, turning it golden and crispy. Yes, you can buy puff pastry at the store, but if you're in the mood for a real baking project, you can make it yourself at home.

4. How To Make an Ice Cream Cake (Even Better than Dairy Queen!)

Does it still count as baking when you're making half the cake from ice cream? We're going to go with a hard yes! This is certainly one of those longer weekend projects, but an ice cream cake made with your own hands is an accomplishment worth the work.

5. How To Make Perfect Pumpkin Muffins

A big part of what makes pumpkin muffins so amazing is the spice blend that gives them their warm, autumn-y flavor. The spices used in this recipe are also the primary components of pumpkin pie spice: cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and ground cloves.

6. Banana-Nut Muffins

These particular banana-nut muffins are extra moist and tender; you can slice one in half, slather it with butter, and take a healthy bite — all without fear that your breakfast will disintegrate into crumbs. They are also as banana-y and nut-filled as any slice of banana bread, but in a form that's portable, packable, and ready to go out the door with you.

7. Homemade Marshmallow Fluff

A baking aisle mainstay, how many of us have a memory of dense marshmallow fluff sticking to the roof of our mouths after a bite of a peanut butter-marshmallow sandwich? From being more cost-efficient to making things healthier, building your own homemade pantry might seem to be more hands-on, but it sure has its perks. Even something as commercialized as marshmallow cream can be made better and tastier at home.

8. How To Make Chewy Brownies

How do you like your brownies? They tend to fall into three major categories (with their own diehard fans): cakey, fudgy, or chewy. All have their advantages — the dense richness of brownies that are closer to fudge than any baked good; the lightness and flavor of ones that run closer to cake. But chewy brownies — just this side of gooey, with a crackled, shiny crust — are perhaps the most ardently adored.

9. How To Make Peanut Butter Scotcheroos

Imagine if Rice Krispie treats had a run-in with a jar of peanut butter and then got doused in a melted medley of chocolate and butterscotch chips. An improbable combination? Perhaps. Insanely good? You betcha.

10. How To Make Hasselback Apples

If you love baked apples, or any dessert that involves cooked apples for that matter, then Hasselback apples should be on your must-make list. They work just as well for a weeknight treat as they do for a dinner party dessert.

(Image credits: Kelli Foster; Melissa Ryan; Tessa Huff; Emma Christensen)