Sick of banana bread? Try these mouth-watering, easy-to-make baking recipes to cheer up lockdown.

Did you eat a lifetime’s worth of banana bread in the last lockdown? Same. We were all at it; Instagram feeds were awash with our captive efforts, presented as proudly as we would a new baby. But enough is enough. This lockdown we are keen to try our hands at a broader variety of baked treats – and the more nostalgic the better. Comfort is, after all, the name of the game right now. This time round, we don’t appear to yet be battling the issue of flour being as rare as hens’ teeth, so it’s time to don your apron, wield your wooden spoon and whip up these highly cheering tea time cakes and biscuits.

Vegan Millionaire Shortbread


Anna Jones/ The Guardian


Anna Jones shared this exceptionally good recipe a year ago in her column in The Guardian – just before the world turned upside down. It is reassuring, then, to know that some things never change: these little squares are, we can attest, just as delicious now as they were back in those halcyon pre-pandemic days. Millionaire shortbread is always a tasty throwback to childhood visits to National Trust tearooms. Here, though, it is given a 2021 twist thanks to its vegan credentials. We love the crunch of it, thanks to the nuts and seeds. Do note, it takes a couple of hours to set: then again, we may just be able to spare the time right now.

Coffee And Walnut Cake


Karen Burns-Booth/Great British Chefs


Karen Burns-Booth bases this classic recipe on one her mother used to make for Sunday tea. Coffee and walnut is, after all, a cake that has stood the test of time, resisting any form of modernising twist. The beauty is it’ll last a few days, and every slice is pure comfort. As advised here, do opt for the best quality instant coffee that you can find.

Bakewell Tarts


BBC/ Elena Silcock


Does anyone else find Bakewell Tarts winningly reminiscent of cosy tea times with your granny in the 1980s? There is something so cheering about the perky little cherry on top, plus this recipe winningly advocates the use of shop-bought pastry – an idea we’re very much on board with. Not too tricky, they’re a wonderful option for keeping home-schooling little ones entertained (consider this home economics covered). The ideal way to bring back punctual 4pm-sharp high teatime.

Custard Cream Hearts


Nigella


These retro beauties are super for trying in lockdown. Of course, you can choose any cookie-cutter shape, but we like the hearts – ordinarily we may have held these back for a Valentine’s Day treat but, just as with everyone putting up Christmas trees in November last year, in a pandemic, the usual rules don’t apply. These are fun, delicious, make a lovely teatime treat and are far more delicious than the shop-bought version. As Nigella writes, ‘I have what I like to think of as a Wildean thing about reproducing artifice by more natural means. Thus, in How To Eat, I gave a recipe for digestive biscuits, and now I find myself propelled towards the homely accomplishment of the custard cream, hitherto - at least in my lifetime - only known in its packet form. It's probably a brand heresy to say it, but these are so much better homemade. I knew that no one would be bothered to go through the motions in the normal run of things, but thought if I fashioned them as hearts, and designated them as a special lurve token, you might consider it. And please do: they are not hard to make and fabulous to eat, on top of their heavenly appearance.’

Cherry Brownies


Jamie Oliver


Are they a pudding? Are they a mid-afternoon treat? Given that we hardly know what day it is, do we really care? Gooey, chocolatey and fruity, they are just the pick-me-up we all need to wind up a day of home-schooling.

Chocolate And Tahini Cookies


Olive Magazine


Have you become a chocolate chip cookie pro over the past year? Why not try and jazz up your next batch then by knocking up these impressive Oreo style sandwich biscuits, with a white chocolate and tahini filling – the latter ingredient deployed for a winning and slightly unexpected flavour punch. Serve up with a cold glass of milk in front of a movie for a post WFH/home-school treat.

Clementine And Almond Syrup Cake


Ottolenghi


This treat of a cake is one of our all-time favourites. Yotam Ottolenghi is not one to scrimp on the big flavours, and here they all are: almonds and oranges, all encased in a rich chocolatey shell. If you want to keep it extra simple, serve naked without the chocolate icing.

By Nancy Alsop
January 2021

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Nancy Alsop

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