A slice of cake

It’s National Baking Week! Ready, Steady, Bake!

It’s National Baking Week! And surely there’s no better activity to do with your kids than a little homemade baking. Of course, you may have to put up with a some chaos, and spend a while cleaning up afterwards, but nothing beats the joy of sitting down to a cup of tea and delicious home-made cake.

If you’re busy, it’s not always easy to choose a recipe, so I’ve done a round-up of 25 beautiful baking recipes to make life easy for you. Being British, I’ve focused on finding some traditional recipes from the UK, which may not be familiar to you if you live elsewhere.

Cakes

These recipes include some of the best British cakes.

1. Flapjacks

Made with oats, flapjacks are a great option if you want a healthier choice of cake. This recipe from Jamie Oliver lets you choose your own mix of dried fruits, so you can include your favourites, and change around each time you cook. For a softer texture, add a teaspoon of baking powder. Flapjacks keep well for about a week in an airtight tin (if you can resist them that long!).

2. Seed Cake

Traditional British seed cake includes caraway seeds for a unique flavour. It’s not a variety you find very often now, but my kids loved to take a seed cake whenever we went camping. This version by Delia Smith includes ground almonds in the cake for a denser texture, while demerara sugar and flaked almonds give the top a delicious crunch.

3. Yorkshire Parkin

On 5 November, we celebrate Guy Fawkes Night, remembering when Guido Fawkes tried to assassinate the King and Parliament in 1605 by stacking the cellars of the Houses of Parliament with gunpowder. The plot failed, but each year we light bonfires and have fireworks in remembrance. Yorkshire Parkin is exactly the right kind of cake to combat the cold, as it’s sticky, chewy, and laced with ground ginger.

4. Fruit scones

Featherlight scones, served with jam and clotted cream, make the quintessential Devon cream tea, and since I live in Devon, I simply had to include it. This recipe by the Queen of Cakes Mary Berry suggests making miniature scones, but you can cut them larger – just bake them for a few minutes longer. Serve them spread with cream and with a dollop of strawberry jam on top, unless you’re from neighbouring Cornwall, where you spread the jam first and then the cream!

5. Tropical Tea Fruit Cake

OK, so adding tropical fruit isn’t quite British, but it does give this Tropical Tea Fruit Cake a rather exotic tang. The Earl Grey tea adds a scented flavour to this cake, and it’s made even more enticing by a layer of succulent soaked fruit on top.

Breads

Artisan bread is unbeatable, but it usually comes at a price. I like to treat myself at our local monthly farmer’s market, but I also love making bread. I find that making bread is not only easy, it’s therapeutic too.

6. Garlic & Herb Flatbread

Flatbread is endlessly versatile, as you can serve it to accompany food (e.g. a thick homemade soup or spicy curry), or as a wrap to make a tasty alternative to a sandwich. This Garlic & Herb Flatbread is very simple to make – you don’t even need to bake it. Flatbreads are cooked in a frying pan in just a couple of minutes. Trust me, once you’ve started making flatbreads, it’s hard to go back to shop-bought ones.

7. Zucchini Bread

Adding vegetables to a bread recipe might sound strange, but this Zucchini Bread by Paula Deen ticks all the boxes for flavour and healthiness. The cinnamon adds warmth, and the chopped nuts provide a crunch to contrast with the softness of the bread. Perfect with soup or a comforting bowl of dahl.

8. Focaccia with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Olives and Rosemary

If you think bread is boring, you clearly haven’t tried a ‘full works’ focaccia! This mouth-watering soft focaccia, topped with a tempting combination of sun-dried tomatoes, olives, caramelised onion and rosemary, is a meal in itself. But it also work well as a tear-and-share to accompany pizza or a hearty stew.

9. Yogurt & Parmesan Soda Bread

Soda bread uses bicarbonate of soda as a raising agent, rather than yeast, which is good for those who’re not able to digest yeast easily. This Yogurt & Parmesan Soda Bread has a sharpness which works well with sweeter flavours (e.g. pumpkin or sweet potato soup). It’s quick to make as you don’t need to wait for it to rise, so it’s ideal is you want a speedy home-made bread for lunch.

10. Apricot Couronne

Paul Hollywood is renowned for his bread-making, and this Apricot Couronne has become one of his signature bakes. This superb sweet bread includes juicy apricots and sugary marzipan, as well as dried fruit and nuts, making it a fabulous choice for a Christmas celebration. It’s rather fiddly to do the ‘twisting’ bit to get the traditional shape of a couronne, but well worth the effort.

Tea Breads

Soaking dried fruit in tea in order to make bread may sound a bit revolting, but in reality it adds a wonderful moist texture and deep flavour. Tea breads are ridiculously easy to make – soak the fruit, then throw everything in the bowl and mix, pour into a tin and bake. If you slice and freeze a tea loaf, you can have individual slices in your lunchbox every day as a healthy alternative to cake.

11. Traditional Tea Cake

For a simple traditional tea bread, you can’t go wrong with this recipe. Although it says to leave the fruit overnight, you can get away with soaking for a couple of hours – I used to make an extra cup of tea with breakfast and pour it over the fruit. When I got back from the school run, the fruit was cooled and soft, so I could have it in the oven within ten minutes. Simple!

12. Irish Barmbrack

This Irish Barmbrack is a regional take on the tea bread, and has all the usual ingredients, but adds a dash of Irish whisky for an extra punch! It’s traditional to bake a ring into the bread, to bring good luck to the finder, but you might want to avoid this if the loaf is for small children!

13. Spiced Pumpkin Tea Bread

At this time of year, pumpkin is a seasonal ingredient, and this Spiced Pumpkin Tea Bread has everything you need to celebrate autumn. Pumpkin puree and coconut milk give the loaf a lovely sweetness, and crunchy walnuts give it some additional ‘bite’.

14. Hairy Bikers’ Low Fat Fruit Tea Bread

You’d expect the Hairy Bikers to have a recipe packed with flavour, and this tea bread recipe doesn’t disappoint. It includes unusual ingredients such as banana, prunes and lemon rind, which makes for a sweet taste, velvety texture, and plenty of dietary fibre as an added extra.

15. Cranberry Tea Bread

Cranberries are another seasonal ingredient that I love to include when I’m baking. If you prefer a sharper tang to your tea bread, then this offering by Martha Stewart is what you need. The cranberries, crystallised ginger, and yogurt, all add an edge to the flavour, which you can enhance by using cream cheese as a spread rather than butter.

Cupcakes

I’m a bit sad that cupcakes seem to have dropped out of fashion, but you may find your appetite for a butter-iced delicacy revived with these recipes. I’ve included a few grown-up versions here – after all, baking isn’t only for the kids, is it?

16. Hummingbird Red Velvet Cupcakes

There’s a branch of the Hummingbird Bakery just up the road from where my son works. I once shelled out for a Red Velvet Cupcake, and was mortified when I couldn’t actually finish it! So now I make them at home. Definitely no good if you’re counting calories, but perfect for an indulgent treat.

17. Hummingbird Lavender Cupcakes

I make no apology for including two Hummingbird Bakery recipes – I’ve never found one yet that I didn’t like. The scent of English lavender in these Lavender Cupcakes might seem a trifle unusual, but I think it works really well. Add a small amount of purple food colouring to the frosting for an extra kick of lavender.

18. Sweet Potato Pie Cupcakes with Marshmallow Frosting

If you love sweet potatoes, then you’ll love these Sweet Potato Cupcakes. With a comforting mix of seasonal spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, these cakes are topped with silky marshmallow frosting for even more sweetness. Caramel drizzle and crushed pecans make the perfect finishing touch.

19. Flirtini Cocktail Cupcakes

What do you get if you combine vodka, champagne and pineapple? A Flirtini, of course! But if you can’t indulge in a cocktail, then try one of these cocktail-inspired cupcakes instead. Mandy at What the Fruitcake has invented a delightful cupcake recipe that includes all the essentials of a Flirtini. And they look great as well!

20. Girls Night In Irish Cream Liqueur Topped Cupcakes

A girls’ night in will never be the same once you’ve discovered these Irish Cream Topped Cupcakes. Combining dark chocolate, creme fraiche, and cream liqueur, these cupcakes are the ultimate in adult sophistication. Best enjoyed with friends and a good movie!

Gluten-free recipes

It’s relatively simple to substitute ingredients in many of the above recipes. But since my grandson can’t have gluten, I’m always on the look-out for good gluten-free recipes, so I’ve included a few ‘free-from’ suggestions as well.

21. Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake

I love sticky chocolate cake, and I think this Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake recipe really fits the bill. With both cocoa powder and melted chocolate, this dark chocolate cake has a shiny iced topping and moist texture that makes it a wonderful treat for afternoon tea (or indeed, at any time of day!).

22. Gluten-Free Carrot Cake

Carrot cake is another of my favourites – I find the combination of carrots, cinnamon and cream-cheese frosting totally irresistible. This adaptation of a recipe by Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa) is so delicious you’d never know it was gluten-free, and the addition of coconut to the frosting is inspired.

23. Gluten-Free Apple Muffins

We have ten apple trees on our garden, and at this time of year it’s almost impossible to keep up with the crop. These gluten-free Apple Muffins are simple to make, use fresh apples, and make a mouth-watering breakfast treat. You could use any dessert apple in these muffins, and serving with a drizzle of warmed honey makes them even more delicious.

24. Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

There’s something about the crunchy outside and the chewy inside that make Choc Chip Cookies the best choice of cookie. I usually end up eating them warm from the oven, so the choc chips are still soft and gooey – in fact, cookies rarely make it to the biscuit tin! This gluten-free recipe from Betty Crocker is totally traditional and totally superb.

25. Gluten-Free White Bread

Lastly, no recipe round-up would be complete without white bread. I do love seeded wholemeal bread, but occasionally I long for a slice of pure white bread, and this recipe is perfect if you can’t manage gluten.

So there you have it – some of my suggestions for home baking. If you don’t fancy any of these recipes, there are lots more on the National Baking Week website (and they’re not all traditional baking recipes either). If you make something this week, do share in the comments and let us know what you’ve been baking.

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