Whether you’re keen to help younger people get their bake on, or would like to learn to bake as an adult, baking can seem a bit mysterious. The combination of flour, fat and liquid to create a beautiful bubble-filled moist golden sponge is the culinary equivalent of turning lead into gold. But it’s not that complicated: with a few helpful straight-forward recipes, you’ll be able to bake with the best of them.
So, in honour of National Baking Week, here are our top picks for fail-safe delicious baking recipes for beginners.
Crumble is one of the easiest things to make. Bung a load of frozen summer fruits into a pan with a little water and sugar, and warm together for a few mins. Add to a buttered baking dish, and rub cubed butter into flour, and mix in some sugar. Scatter the crumble topping over the fruits, bung in the oven, and that’s it. Delicious with cream or ice cream over the top… you can use any fruit you like and instead of flour you can always use ground almonds and oats, nuts, and seeds to make it more flavoursome with a crunchy texture.
Our favourite recipe for fruit crumble is this tart-sweet cherry crumble from Nigel Slater – he combines a traditional topping with nuts, plus uses a food processor for a super-speedy, no fuss dessert.
A fruity upside-down cake
If like me, you love to cook but are averse to mountains of washing up, a one-tin bake is essential. An upside down cake is lovely because the steam from the submerged fruit keeps the sponge moist, and you also get to do the clever thing with the plate, flipping the cake out upside down while saying ‘ta-da!’.
You can use sliced apples with cinnamon, pears and dark chocolate chips, honey and plums (cut side up): the possibilities are endless. Simply make a sponge mix, arrange your fruit in the bottom of the greased baking tin, smooth over the cake batter, bake, et voila. I particularly the like the zingy tartness of the rhubarb-ginger-sour cream combo in this inspired recipe.
Lemon drizzle cake
Dishy ol’ Raymond Blanc has served this perfect-for-afternoon-tea recipe in his restaurants for 25 years. If it’s good enough for Raymond, and it’s embarrassingly easy peasy, it’s getting a mention here.
This one-tin recipe calls for very few ingredients and even has a handy glaze-drying tip that will make you look like an expert fresh from an artisan Parisian patisserie. And it’s totally healthy of course – it’s got lemons in it. (One of the five a day, am I right?!!)
Chocolate torte sounds like it would be a bit of a palava to make, but it’s actually really easy. Dense, squidgy and roof-of-the-mouth sticky, a good chocolate torte is similar to a brownie but one that you feel you must eat daintily with a silver cake fork.
This simple chocolate torte recipe is perfect for baking beginners. It also works to form the basis of a decadent dessert: simply add some poached pears, or a dollop of crème fraiche and some macerated strawberries.
I remember making profiteroles when I was really young, and while I wouldn’t want to be messing around with piping bags every day, making profiteroles is a great way to challenge yourself and show off your new baking skills.
Choux pastry is actually really easy to make, it just requires a heck of a lot of stirring (great for the arm muscles!) Always popular with children, profiteroles are bite-sized morsels of heaven and look beautiful too. They’re a great dinner party dessert.
There’s a relatively straightforward profiterole recipe here, you’ll just need two piping bags – one for the pastry mix, and one for the cream. If you don’t have an electric beater, just keep beating with a wooden spoon until it’s done.
Inspired to get baking?
Check out the delicious goodies in our luxury food hampers, including The Wooden Spoon Acacia Honey, Apricots in Almond & Raspberry Syrup, and Walkers of London Luxury Chocolate Roasted Nuts.
Chocolate lovers should check out our Lindt Chocolate Gift Basket and for those wishing to bake up some festive treats, there are our Christmas hampers. Packed with festive deliciousness you don’t need to cook, as well as ingredients to inspire Yuletide bakes – our Christmas hampers make fantastic gifts for bakers and non-bakers alike.