Life

What to cook in February: Simple bakes that are oh so satisfying

Cookies, cakes and more that you can make any day of the week.

Cookies, cakes and more that you can make any day of the week

3 side-by-side overhead shots of baked goods. Left to right: guava bars topped with sugar on a beige platter; a batch of brownies cut into squares; 3 chocolate chip cookies on a bright green plate.
(Photo, left to right: Johnny Miller, Renée Kohlman, Suech and Beck)

February is the perfect time of year to bake something simple and delicious. After all, nothing combats the dreariness of cold weather and lack of sunlight quite like turning on your oven and making a comforting recipe — especially if it yields fresh-baked goods sooner rather than later. 

Below, you'll find a collection of sweets that require minimal prep time, use a short list of ingredients, employ straightforward techniques and are sure to put a smile on your face.

We've got treats for when you're in search of something satisfying after work, like Deb Perelman's one-bowl pound cake, a towering loaf that requires minimal effort. There are dinner party desserts, like a gluten-free version of chocolate birthday cake, or Dwight Smith's monkey bread — a caramel-topped showstopper that's surprisingly easy to make. You'll also find three types of brownies to choose from, based on how long you're willing to wait before you can bake them.  

Here are 17 recipes that are sure to deliver rich and satisfying results.

Better-Than-Classic Pound Cake

an overhead shot of a pound cake in a loaf pan on top of a baking sheet
(Photography by Deb Perelman, styling by Barrett Washburne)

Monkey Bread

Two images side-by-side. L: Dwight Smith pulling a piece of caramel sauce-covered monkey bread off the loaf. R: Close-up of monkey bread covered in caramel sauce sitting on white plate on top of a wooden lazy Susan.
(Credit: Dwight Smith)

Applesauce Cake with Cream Cheese & Honey Frosting

Closeup on a single-layer cake sitting on a white cake stand. A hand holds the side of the stand and a spatula spreads white icing on top of the cake.
(Photography by David Loftus)

Guava Bars

Overhead closeup of a platter of baked guava bars topped with sugar.
(Photography by Johnny Miller)

Dark Chocolate and Molasses Cookies

Overhead shot of three large chocolate chip cookies on a lime green plate, on a dark blue and white tile surface.
(Photography by Suech and Beck)

Vegan Black Forest Loaf Cake 

overhead shot of a chocolate loaf cake on a wooden cutting board. the cake is topped with whipped cream and whole cherries and one slice of it is laying flat on the cutting board.
(Photography by Lauren Toyota)

Hazelnut Espresso Shortbread Crescents

Overhead shot of Shortbread Crescents on parchment paper cooling on a baking rack. They're dusted with icing sugar and a bowl of the sugar sits next to the rack.
(Photo: David Bagosy, Styling: Melissa Direnzo)

Flognarde with Plums or Berries or Pears

Closeup on a cake in a shallow white dish on a wooden table. The cake is dotted with small plums and sprinkled with icing sugar.
(Photography by Ellen Silverman)

Mena Massoud's Basbousa

Overhead shot of basbousa cake cut into squares.
(Photo credit: Andrew Rowley)

Chocolate Cherry Skillet Brownies

Overhead shot of brownies topped with vanilla ice cream and cherries in a cast iron skillet.
(Photography by Adrian Harris and Jeremy Inglett)

Brown Butter Spelt Brownies 

Closeup overhead shot of a batch of brownies cut into squares.
(Credit: Renée Kohlman)

Fudgy Brownie Cookies

Overhead shot of fudge brownie cookies cooling on a baking rack. Some cookies sit on a plate next to the rack, next to 2 glasses of milk.
(Photography by Michael Gozum)

Ricotta Olive Oil Cake

A slice of blueberry cake with whipped cream on it, sitting on a white plate.

Orange-Scented Date Crumb Bars

Three date squares on a marble surface. More of the squares sit in the background.
(Photography by Michael Gozum)

Whole Grain Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies

A stack of Chocolate Chunk Cookies on a plate. More of the cookies on a baking rack and a glass jar of milk are in the background.
(Photo: David Bagosy, Styling: Melissa Direnzo)

Raspberry Jam Torte

overhead shot of a cake cut into squares, cooling on a baking rack on a marble countertop at the top of the image. a slice of cake on a white plate sits below it. a ramekin of raspberry jam and a cookbook titled "A Treasure for my Daughter" sit on either side of the plate.
(Photography by Kat Romanow)

Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake

a split screen. left: a heart-shaped cake with chocolate icing and colourful candles that say happy birthday. right: jamie oliver in a kitchen, looking to camera.
(Photography: Jamie Oliver)

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