As more than four in 10 Brits are now cooking to help cope with life in lockdown, our national trainer Jo Underhay's top bake ideas will keep you busy
There’s no doubt the emergence of COVID-19 and lockdown have changed the way we live. For many of us, working from home is still the norm. Most of us have brushed up on our tech skills, navigating Zoom like IT pros. And then there’s the cooking.
With pubs and restaurants still closed, we’ve all had to get a bit more creative in the kitchen. And these days it seems we enjoy nothing more than looking up bake ideas and trying these recipes in the comfort of our own home.
In fact, lockdown cooking has inspired a new generation of home bakers, capable of knocking out sourdough loaves with ease. According to the ONS (Office for National Statistics), more than four in 10 Brits (45%) have turned to cooking to help cope with life in lockdown. Happily, that’s a trend that looks set to continue, even as restrictions ease. So, if you’re keen to expand your culinary repertoire, read on. Our national trainer Jo Underhay has sourced a selection of classic recipes to keep your inner baker busy:
If you’re missing going out for ‘proper’ pizza, this is the recipe for you. Flour is much easier to get hold of now that panic buying has died down. The great thing about this Italian dish, of course, is its versatility. Once you’ve made your dough, almost anything works as a topping! This easy recipe from BBCGoodFood.com takes just five minutes to prep and around 10 minutes to cook.
Our C2402SS oven is perfect if you’re prone to piling on the toppings. This stylish, stainless steel model cooks as well as it looks. Best of all, its pyrolytic self-cleaning function makes short work of any melted mozzarella. It carbonises baked-on grease into fine ash, which wipes away easily – no rubbing or scrubbing required!
One of the most enduringly popular bake ideas during lockdown is banana bread. It’s not hard to understand why. Banana bread is classic comfort food. It requires no complex processes – you basically weigh, mix and bake. And of course, it’s a great way to use up those brown, squishy bananas that are well past their best for anything else! I like this baking recipe from Cookie + Kate because it’s so forgiving. The sweetness comes from honey or maple syrup, and it works with almost any type of flour.
To get the best from your bake, make sure your oven is at the right temperature before your banana bread goes in. Caple’s Sense C2105SS features our signature MotionHeat+ technology, which distributes hot air all around the oven cavity. This means your appliance rapidly reaches the desired temperature. So, there’s no need for a lengthy preheat – which saves you time and energy. It also ensures even cooking results and avoids flavour transfer from other dishes cooked at the same time.
Top tip: This recipe is very forgiving, so feel free to change it up according to your personal tastes. Add variety with some chopped pecans, walnuts or raisins. You could even add some chocolate chips for a treat!
Bake ideas for a white loaf
If you’re craving a good, old-fashioned white loaf, still warm from the oven, you’ll love this baking recipe from The Spruce Eats. Its round shape and glossy top mean this beautiful bake idea looks as good as it tastes. Perfect with some salted butter, or perhaps some cheese and pickle
An important stage in bread making is the “proving”. This is the final rising of the dough before it’s baked, when further fermentation takes place. A built-in warming drawer will be perfect for proving. It is also great for keeping different foods warm until everything is ready to eat.
Top tip: Make sure you store your ingredients properly. For example, yeast should be kept in an airtight container in your fridge. Air, heat and moisture damage yeast, which will prevent your dough from rising.
If you’re after bake ideas that are child-friendly, chocolate chip cookies are hard to beat (but so easy to eat!). This recipe from Handle The Heat produces soft, golden cookies with just the right amount of gooiness in the centre.
You don’t need any advanced chef skills or fancy equipment to produce these. Caple’s Classic C2237 oven would be perfect. It’s hard to beat if you’re watching the pennies and looking for a classy, but cost-effective, oven for your kitchen.
Top tip: To keep your cookies soft after baking, store them in an airtight container at room temperature. Add an apple wedge, some bread or even a tortilla! The moisture from these will migrate to the cookies, to keep them soft and chewy.
Time for tea
I absolutely adore afternoon tea, and am always on the look-out for new scone baking recipes. This version and a beautiful bake idea, courtesy of Matthew Lockwood, is one of my favourites. The sultanas are optional, but don’t be tempted to replace the buttermilk with normal milk. It adds a really tasty tang!
Steam cooking is great for baking. It helps food to retain its flavours and colours – and it’s energy-efficient too. Our SO110GM Combination Steam Oven delivers the best of both worlds (steam and conventional cooking methods).
Its roomy 36-litre capacity means there’s plenty of space for batch-baking scones. This appliance incorporates steam, fan heat with steam, grill, turbo grill and defrost options. It even includes an automatic descaling system to prevent limescale build-up.
Top tip: Less is more. Where scones are concerned, work quickly and lightly. Don’t overwork your dough or your scones will be heavy and may struggle to rise.
No blog on brilliant bake ideas would be complete without a contribution from Mary Berry. The queen of cakes has created a fool-proof recipe for fluffy vanilla cupcakes. Believe me, however many you bake, it will never be enough! The icing element adds an impressive celebratory look – perfect for those lockdown birthdays.
I’m a big fan of our C2220 model, which features a handy side-opening door. Easy access makes all the difference when retrieving a hot tray of cupcakes from the oven. There’s also a full-width inner glass door that lets you keep an eye on everything while it’s still baking.
My final baking recipe is for classic chocolate muffins. Some days only this level of indulgence will do! This recipe, from GoodtoKnow, produces soft, rich muffins every single time. The method couldn’t be simpler,
and this recipe takes just under one hour to prep and bake. Our C2231 Classic single oven is perfect for the job. It combines affordability, style and performance – pairing an understated modern look with outstanding results.
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