16 Recipes to Bake When You're Stressed Out

Keep Calm and Bake On

Ho Ho Cake

The Spruce / Kristina Vanni 

We are in full support of stress baking. If life is dragging you down and you have pent up energy to expend, it can help to take your mind off things and throw yourself into a new activity. A big baking project is the ultimate distraction, requiring you to focus and physically make something with your own hands. Plus, you'll be rewarded for your efforts with a delicious treat at the end—to eat or to share.

  • 01 of 16

    Sourdough Loaf

    Paul Hollywood sourdough loaf recipe

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

    Sourdough bread is a world of baking all on its own, requiring you to create your own starter and regularly feed and use it. It's the kind of baking that is often left to the professionals or serious home bakers, but it can be conquered at home with some careful tending. Once you have a healthy starter, this rustic loaf is the perfect place to start.

  • 02 of 16

    Sweet and Sticky Monkey Bread

    Sweet and sticky monkey bread recipe

    The Spruce / Nita West

    Monkey bread is fun to bake and fun to eat and makes a tasty brunch dish or a festive dessert. The enriched dough doesn't require lots of kneading and your stress will melt away as you form the balls and roll them in cinnamon-sugar. This dough can also be used to make other baked goods as well like these orange rolls.

  • 03 of 16

    Ho Ho Cake

    Ho Ho Cake

     The Spruce

    This giant homemade Ho Ho cake is the stuff of dreams. The decadent chocolate cake is wrapped around a sweet whipped cream filling and topped with a glaze of chocolate ganache. It's a challenge that's easier than it looks and is sure to make anyone who sees it smile.

  • 04 of 16

    Sourdough Bagels

    assorted sourdough bagels

    Pete Scherer 

    Sourdough starter isn't just good for making loaves of bread. Use some of it to make homemade bagels for a delicious breakfast treat. The process of shaping, boiling, and baking the bagels is involved, making it a good choice if you're in need of a hands-on distraction. Top with your a seasoning of your choice or leave them plain.

    Continue to 5 of 16 below.
  • 05 of 16

    Copycat Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls

    Cinnamon Rolls

    Leah Maroney 

    Cinnamon rolls are an enjoyable baking project if you have the time. The dough is easy to make, and rolling up and slicing it into rolls is satisfying. You can always add finely chopped nuts or dates to the filling for texture. Serve them warm, freshly topped with vanilla glaze.

  • 06 of 16

    Japanese Milk Bread

    Japanese Milk Bread

     The Spruce / Jennifer Perillo

    If you're looking for a soft and tender white loaf, then try Japanese milk bread. The bread starts with a cooked mixture of flour, milk, and water, which gives the gluten a head start. It's rolled into four pieces to make a pretty top, and can be pulled apart to make smaller loaves or sliced as one.

  • 07 of 16

    French Baguette

    French Baguette Recipe

    The Spruce

    The baguette is one of the pantheons of bread and a good loaf has a crunchy exterior with a chewy, delicate interior. It's perfect for making rustic sandwiches, slicing for crostini, serving with cheese and meat, or just tearing and serving alongside soup and salad. This recipe takes some time but it's no knead, making it mostly hands off.

  • 08 of 16

    Jelly Doughnuts

    Hanukkah doughnuts sufganiot recipe

    ​The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

    Relieve some stress by making fresh, homemade doughnuts (and then eating them). While you don't need to knead the dough, you do need to roll it out and cut it into circles before frying. Use your favorite jelly for the filling or switch it up and use a cream filling or Nutella. Dust with sugar and serve warm for a delicious treat any time of day.

    Continue to 9 of 16 below.
  • 09 of 16

    Danish Rye Bread

    Danish rye bread

     The Spruce / Jeff Galfer

    Danish rye bread is totally different from your standard white loaf. It's made with dark flours, whole seeds, and rye berries that are fermented for a unique flavor and texture. It's not a labor-intensive recipe, but it does require frequent checking and several steps over the course of 24 hours. Serve it sliced and toasted with butter or cream cheese or use for open-faced sandwiches.

  • 10 of 16

    Braided Sabbath Bread (3-Egg Challah Bread)

    3-Egg Challah Bread

    The Spruce

    For a delicious bread that looks as impressive as it tastes, bake braided challah bread. It's a good stress reliever recipe since it requires two rounds of kneading and some meticulous braiding. The resulting loaves are glossy and beautiful and taste delicious as is. If there are any leftovers, use them to make extra special French toast.

  • 11 of 16

    Pecan Pie Cheesecake

    pecan pie cheesecake

     The Spruce Eats / Leah Maroney

    Cheesecake takes some time and little finesse to make right, but the results are more than worth it. This recipe has a creamy, thick base that's topped with a sticky-sweet pecan topping. If you can't decide between making pecan pie or cheesecake, then this is the dessert for you. You can always swap the topping for classic cherries or strawberries if you like.

  • 12 of 16

    Sourdough English Muffins

    sourdough english muffins

    Pete Scherer 

    If you've embarked on a sourdough expedition, but have extra starter, use it to make these English muffins. The starter adds a hint of tang to the tender dough. Note that you'll want to start this recipe the night before since it needs to sit in the refrigerator overnight. It can take a little practice to cook them just right on the stovetop, so don't give up after the first couple if they aren't perfect. If you don't have extra starter, try non-sourdough English muffins.

    Continue to 13 of 16 below.
  • 13 of 16

    Drunken Chocolate Babka (Shikker Babka)

    Drunken Babka

    Miri Rotkovitz

    Babka is a perfect union of pastry and bread. Swirled with a layer of chocolate and bathed in a rum syrup, it's simply irresistible. The intricate bakery item takes some time and hands-on shaping, soaking up all of your attention. The golden-brown, beautifully swirled loaf is worth every minute and will impress even the most skillful home baker.

  • 14 of 16

    Seeded Sourdough Crackers

    seeded sourdough crackers

     Jennifer Perillo

    Making crackers at home feels like a next level endeavor, but they're actually quicker and easier to make than you might think. This recipe gets some additional flavor from discarded sourdough starter. Rather than throwing out your spent starter, put it to good use making these snackable seeded crackers. Serve with cheese or a spread.

  • 15 of 16

    Perfect Macarons

    Easy Macarons

    The Spruce

    Focus your energy and use it to learn how to make perfect macarons. The colorful little domes with a light, chewy interior are a French pastry shop delicacy. The ingredients and overall process are relatively simple, but mixing, piping, and baking perfect macarons requires some practice.

  • 16 of 16

    Classic Sicilian Cannoli

    Sicilian cannoli recipe

    The Spruce

    You don't often hear of homemade cannoli for good reason—the crispy, hollow shells are tricky to shape and fry and must be eaten fresh for the best results. They're a great baking project since they're challenging, but doable and extremely delicious. Pull out homemade cannoli at your next gathering and your guests won't soon forget it.