7 Tips for Quarantine Baking from Pro Baker Christina Tosi

Running low on baking ingredients? Need some recipe inspo? Pro baker Christina Tosi let us in on some of her stay-at-home baking tips and tricks.

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Courtesy of Duncan Hines

Take it from Tosi

It seems like everyone is taking their extra time at home to bake a little more—our staffers and readers are baking up a storm. Leading the charge with home baking is professional pastry chef, cookbook author and Master Chef Junior judge Christina Tosi. Every day Christina hosts Bake Club on Instagram, encouraging avid and amateur bakers alike to get into the kitchen.

She’s also getting more creative than ever. Check out her best tips on how you can bake your best while staying in more and working with fewer ingredients.

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Have “emergency butter” and other musts stashed away

If you’re a serious baker, you know the fear of running out of butter is real. It’s a must for so many delicious buttery treats. Keep this fear at bay and do as Christina does: “I try to keep a stick of butter in the freezer as my emergency butter.”

These back-up supplies—whether it’s butter, an extra bag of flour or just a box of cake mix—can be comforting to keep on hand.

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Make your own “flour”

These days, it seems like flour is a bit harder to come by in the grocery store or in your grocery delivery. If you’re running low, Christina says don’t worry—you’re pantry is full of things that can become flour substitutes.

“Take really anything that’s dry in your pantry and grind it down,” Christina suggests. Rolled oats, cereal (Christina suggests things like corn flakes and puffed rice cereals), pretzels, graham crackers and popped popcorn can all be pulsed in a food processor and used in place of flour in many recipes. She suggests using 1-1/3 cup of this substitution for every cup of flour.

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Courtesy of Duncan Hines

Don’t forget about baking mixes

Get your cake mix and your brownie mix on,” Christina encourages.

These boxed mixes are a great foundation for many recipes since they include many recipe staples like flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Use a brownie mix to make any of these decadent treats (Duncan Hines is Christina’s favorite) or use cake mix for these upgraded desserts.

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Get creative with your mix-ins

Christina says that no matter what, she likes to keep some sort of mix-ins in her pantry to liven up her bakes—whether it’s cookies, cakes or any other sweet. “I always try to have something salty, something sweet or something that’s sort of curious, whether it’s a nut or a chocolate chip or a cereal,” she explained.

Switching up your mix-ins in a recipe can give them new life. These monster cookies are a great vehicle for whatever add-ins you have on hand.

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Read up on substitutions

If you find your pantry is a little bare, don’t stop baking! There are plenty of common baking substitutions you can rely upon. Out of eggs? Christina says to use a bit of mashed banana to get the same moisture and binding power. No brown sugar? Pulse white sugar and maple syrup together in your food processor. This also works with molasses.

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Repurpose what you bake

While staying in, it seems like everyone is making banana bread. And why not? It makes use of all those browning bananas and it’s a great snack or breakfast. But after a few loaves, you might be banana-ed out.

After making several loaves, Christina realized that she was growing tired of this basic. Instead of letting the bread go to waste, she transformed the bread into a French toast cup. To do this, cube up day-old banana bread and soak in a mixture of milk, eggs, sugar and a dash of salt. Transfer into greased muffin tins and bake.

“It’s a fun way to breathe new life into banana bread you’ve already made,” she says.

And no need to stop with banana bread. You can do this with any quick bread. Turn it into French toast cups, bread pudding or French toast. Extra cookies? Make ice cream sandwiches. Turn cakes into trifles. Make brownies the base of your next sundae. There are lots of great ways to shake up your day-old bakes.

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Courtesy of Duncan Hines

Balance your bakes

While staying home more, folks are diving into complicated bakes to improve their skills. There’s nothing wrong with whipping up a complex confetti cake (we love Christina’s version) or one of our most advanced bread recipes, but Christina says that staying in and baking is all about balance.

“You have to have the deeply committed three-day recipes, and you’ve got to balance it with, like, I need a cookie now,” she laughs.

So don’t wear yourself out with complicated recipe after complicated recipe. Be sure to mix it up with some quick, satisfying bakes.

Up Next, learn how to make hot chocolate brownies just like Christina Tosi, queen of sweet treats and nostalgic flavors.

Lisa Kaminski
Lisa is a former Taste of Home editor and passionate baker. During her tenure, she poured her love of all things sweet (and sometimes savory) into Bakeable, Taste of Home's baking club. Lisa also dedicated her career here to finding and testing the best ingredients, kitchen gear and home products for our Test Kitchen-Preferred program. At home, you'll find her working on embroidery and other crafts.