For some folks, October means sweater weather, turning leaves, and hot apple cider. For others it means homecoming games, an excuse to create gourd-geous decorations, or even just a break from the heat.
Whatever October means to you, the changing weather has us craving all things fresh-baked. Here are 12 cozy treats that are perfect for celebrating the flavors of fall.
Here in Vermont, October means the peak of apple-picking season. And nothing embodies the shared sweetness of that endeavor like Cinnamon Apple Pull-Apart Bread. Pull-apart loaves are ideal for enjoying with friends and family; no slicing and waiting required. Add to that the smell of apples and cinnamon wafting through the kitchen, and you’ve got yourself the perfect autumn celebration loaf.
Apples aren’t only used for sweetness and cinnamon, though. Whether you’re including them in a grilled cheese sandwich or on top of your favorite pizza, apples add amazing depth of flavor to savory recipes. In our Sausage and Apple Pie, they bring a subtle sweetness and soft texture that keep the meat filling from feeling heavy or one-note. This hearty pie’s unique cheesy crust can even be adapted to your family’s tastes — use a mild cheddar for picky eaters or experiment with a more boldly flavored hard cheese, like Gruyère, for more adventurous ones.
Oh, you thought apple pie was the only classic dessert to get a savory makeover? These rugelach are buttery with the faintest hint of heat, and (in my biased opinion) they’re the ultimate party finger food. Whether you’re serving them up for Sukkot, your book club, or just an afternoon snack to enjoy on your own, they’re a fabulous way to break out the pumpkin purée beyond expected bakes like pie.
PS: Need to bring a vegan or pareve dish to your next gathering? These bake up beautifully using your favorite plant-based versions of the butter, cream cheese, and egg, with nutritional yeast in place of the cheese.
Does fall mean celebrating the return of your favorite pumpkin-spiced coffee drink? If so, you’re in luck, because this warming pick-me-up also comes in cake form. Pumpkin Espresso Bundt Cake hides a cinnamon, espresso, and brown sugar swirl inside, making this seasonal bake look just as impressive as it tastes. And if you’re hoping to impress a crowd, try baking it in a gorgeous Autumn Wreath Bundt Pan for a dose of cottagecore.
Midwesterners, I see you. I’m originally an Ohioan myself, and I understand the shock of realizing not everybody celebrates Sweetest Day on the third Saturday in October — not to mention the anxiety of trying to come up with a properly romantic gift. Fancy truffles from a chocolate shop can run $2 to $4 per chocolate, but with just chocolate chips, heavy cream, and some good cocoa, you can impress your sweetest with your culinary skills and have some to try on your own. And even if you’re not celebrating Sweetest Day, these truffles can be an elegant, grown-up take on Halloween sweets.
On the other hand, maybe your October plans look less like an intimate gathering of two, and more like watching a game with a few million of your closest friends (and temporary worst enemies). With the World Series coming up at the end of the month, it’s time to break out those “peanuts and Cracker Jacks” in your own kitchen. No matter who takes home the trophy, this salty-sweet classic is a sure home run.
You say the only “batter up” in your house this October is cake batter? As the nights get darker, so do the bakes, and Black Sesame Cake is a fantastic way to enjoy the season without overdosing on chocolate. (We’ll have plenty of those fun-size bars soon enough.) With a nutty flavor almost reminiscent of peanut butter, this cake is as rich as it is visually striking. Want to scare it up a bit? Try baking the batter in a Mini Skull Cakelette Pan.
Why settle for store-bought peanut butter cups when you could have them in home-baked cookie form instead? For folks who crave this classic combination of flavors, Magic in the Middles are both trick and treat, with a nostalgic chocolate cookie exterior and peanut butter surprise within. I love to make them using black cocoa for a particularly striking color contrast and intense chocolate flavor.
If you need a delicious dessert to impress a crowd on Diwali, this gorgeous Bundt makes a stunning centerpiece. The barfi-inspired flavors of cardamom, pistachio, and rose combine with a lemon glaze to make a cake that’s as warm and bright as the holiday itself. Recipe developer Pooja Makhijani tops hers with crushed pistachios; dried rose petals would make a beautiful addition as well.
If Halloween has you loving all things ghoulish, Spider Web Brownies are a quick and delicious way to look like you spent ages decorating. A little cream cheese gives this twist on our Fudge Brownies a look that’s creepy-crawly without being over-the-top. The recipe calls for a bit of peppermint in the filling, but feel free to use the flavoring of your choice. Fiori di Sicilia is lovely alongside chocolate, or add Pumpkin Pie Spice for a seasonal twist. (And if you’ve had enough chocolate, try using the same technique to make a spider web cheesecake.)
11) Mummy Hand Pies
If your Halloween style leans less creepy and more completely adorable, Mummy Hand Pies are the recipe for you. They're customizable: Use your favorite jam or pie filling, or just go with a blend of cinnamon and sugar. Plus, hand pies are neater and easier to serve to a crowd than a traditional pie, so they’re perfect for a party.
What’s scarier than a ghost and a vampire put together? The price tag when you’re shopping for goodies to accommodate a variety of specific dietary needs. Luckily, home baking comes to the rescue. These pumpkin cookies are gluten-free and can easily be made without dairy and eggs if needed — this is one batch of cookies everyone will enjoy. (Except zombies. No brains in these treats!)
Looking to bring the flavors of fall to nearly any bake? Boiled cider is our favorite autumn secret ingredient. Make your own at home if you’ve got time and patience on your side, or skip to the delicious part with a bottle of Vermont Boiled Cider from our shop.
Cover photography and food styling (Mummy Hand Pies) by Liz Neily.