A baker at heart, I never save a cookie or muffin baking session for the weekends; I'm happy to make a batch in the middle of the week for breakfast or dinner, but I understand that most people don't feel the same way. A baking and pastry degree and years of real-life experience have taught me how to bake on a weeknight with whatever time and resources I have, and this is wisdom I love to share.
These three rules make weeknight baking easy, fast, and fun so that you don't have to wait until Saturday to break out the butter, sugar, and flour.
1. Start the oven now.
In her book Everlasting Meal, Tamar Adler talks about this concept that if you have no idea what to make for dinner, just start boiling a pot of water because you'll save yourself some time when you realize that some pasta or boiled potatoes are going to get dinner on the table. When you come home and you're craving the comfort of warm breads or biscuits, don't waste any time looking for recipes first — just start preheating the oven right away. Most weeknight baking recipes start at 350°F and by time you figure out what you're making or even mix up the batter, your oven will be ready.
When you do look for recipes: 7 Signs That a Recipe Is Good for Weeknight Baking
2. Don't overthink it.
Here's the truth: On a weeknight when everyone is hungry and tired and cranky, you do not need six herbs in your muffins; one herb will do. Look for recipes with short ingredient lists and that require just a few key pieces of equipment.
These ingredients help: 10 Things I Always Have on Hand for Weeknight Baking
3. Prepare for cleanup.
Baking often uses more mixing bowls, measuring cups, and spatulas than cooking does. And you're probably going to spill some flour. Filling the sink with hot, soapy water while the oven preheats will make cleanup faster (put dirty bowls in there when you're done with them), which ultimately makes everything taste better. Same goes for lining baking pans with cupcake papers, parchment, or aluminum foil. One of my biscuit-baking friends even wraps her cutting board in plastic wrap before she makes her biscuit dough so she doesn't have to deal with wiping up wet, sticky dough while the biscuits bake.
Read more: 5 Weeknight Baking Miracles
Do you bake on weeknights? What are your tips and tricks for getting it done?