It’s finally shoulder season, when summer begins to give way to fall. At the farmers markets there are the last tomatoes and the first apples, cool mornings turn into warm afternoons, and there’s a sort of anticipatory energy in the air. And, as always, there are things to bake and reasons to bake them, from a simple bread that will keep lunchboxes full to an apple pie-inspired babka that will sweeten up any weekend (or new year).
1) Apple Fritter Cake
In this recipe, the beloved apple fritter is reimagined as a sliceable, snackable bake. The moist, sturdy cake, made using the reverse creaming method, supports a huge heap of diced cinnamon-scented apples. The vanilla glaze on top gives this homemade cake doughnut shop appeal.
Get the recipe: Apple Fritter Cake
2) Pretzel Focaccia
This pretzel-focaccia mashup gives you the malty flavor and mahogany crust without the rolling, twisting, and boiling. It's way easier to make, and a sprinkling of pretzel salt is the key finishing touch. Bonus: It’s a great addition to a lunchbox.
Get the recipe: Pretzel Focaccia
3) Apple Pie Babka
When you’re craving apple pie, but also want a breakfast treat, what’s a baker to do? Make this babka, which is also a fitting bake if you’re celebrating Rosh Hashanah. The enriched dough is twisted around a spiced filling of brown sugar, apples, and walnuts; boiled cider (in both the dough and the filling) gives the bread big apple fragrance and flavor.
Get the recipe: Apple Pie Babka
4) Tahini Poppy Seed Pound Cake
It’s nutty, it’s seedy, it’s an excellent candidate for all-day snacking: This pound cake, loaded with tahini, has it all.
Get the recipe: Tahini Poppy Seed Pound Cake
5) Caramel Peach Upside-Down Cake
Labor Day may be looming, but summer isn’t over yet — just ask the peaches. Before their season ends, make Fatima Khamise’s recipe for upside-down cake, which showcases the sliced fruit atop an angel food-like sponge cake. Eat a slice plain, or gild the lily with a big spoonful of whipped cream.
Get the recipe: Caramel Peach Upside-Down Cake
6) Taiwanese Breakfast Bao
We’re not suggesting that anyone hop out of bed on a weekday morning and make these steamed buns for breakfast. But we are suggesting that you make a batch, keep them in the freezer, and thaw them in the microwave for an extraordinary breakfast at a moment’s notice. Recipe developer Joy Huang fills her bao with scallion omelets, soy paste, and pork floss, but you could substitute scrambled eggs and bacon if you prefer.
Get the recipe: Taiwanese Breakfast Bao
7) Glazed Espresso Coffee Cake
For a weekend pick-me-up, make this zebra-striped chocolate-and-vanilla coffee cake, the latest iteration of our Recipe of the Year. It features coffee in two forms (espresso powder and brewed), a generous layer of fudgy crumbs, and a robust coffee frosting.
Get the recipe: Glazed Espresso Coffee Cake
8) Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Bread
If you’re back on the school lunch beat, you may want to commit this simple oatmeal pan bread recipe to memory. Sweetened with molasses and packed with rolled oats, it’s an easy loaf that makes excellent toast — and is perfect for a sandwich, too.
Get the recipe: Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Bread
9) Ultimate Brown-Butter Rice Krispies Treats
Regular Rice Krispies treats are good. But this version, made with nutty browned butter and toasted milk powder, is truly ultimate. Soft yet chewy, a pan of these lasts less than a day in our house. Watch us make them on YouTube!
Get the recipe: Ultimate Brown Butter Rice Krispies Treats
Shop the recipe: Milk Powder
10) Tomato Pie with Parmesan and Basil
Before we bid summer adieu, make this stunning tomato pie. Featuring sliced tomatoes set in a cheesy, creamy custard and a flaky, buttery crust, it’s a showstopping way to say farewell to the season.
Get the recipe: Tomato Pie with Parmesan and Basil
Shop the recipe: Pie Pan
11) Classic Challah
If you’re celebrating Rosh Hashanah, observing Shabbat, or simply want to make the best French Toast you’ve ever had, try your hand at challah. The golden bread is enriched with eggs, sweetened with honey, and easier to make than you might think.
Get the recipe: Classic Challah
12) No-Bake Oatmeal Cookies
If your kids come home from school hungry for a snack and looking for a project, set them up with this recipe for No-Bake Oatmeal Cookies. Sweetened with maple syrup, loaded with oats, nuts, and chocolate, and bound with almond butter, they’re quick and intensely satisfying.
Get the recipe: No-Bake Oatmeal Cookies
13) The Most Pumpkin Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread
Is it too early for pumpkin? Yes. Do we crave pumpkin bread all year round? Also yes! This tender loaf uses a full can of pumpkin purée, is spiced with cinnamon and ginger, and has an ample amount of chocolate chips throughout. Give it a try and add a review!
Get the recipe: The Most Pumpkin Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread
14) Semolina Pasta
Making pasta from scratch is a satisfying weekend project. Bust out your pasta machine and prepare a batch of this dough, which uses both semolina and '00' pizza flour and is made in a food processor. Cut it into noodles, or use it to make cheese-filled ravioli.
Get the recipe: Semolina Pasta
15) Crispy Cheesy Pan Pizza
Back-to-school time means the return of Friday night pizza nights! Celebrate the start of the weekend (and the start of the school year) with this beloved, crowd-pleasing recipe, which yields a plush pizza with delightfully crispy edges.
Get the recipe: Crispy Cheesy Pan Pizza
Cover photography (Caramel Peach Upside-Down Cake) by Rick Holbrook; food styling by Kaitlin Wayne.
Additional contributions from Tatiana Bautista