When 2020 became all about staying at home, the nation found a silver lining and took to baking, filling social media feeds with banana bread, sourdough, cookies and more. 2021 has started in a similar fashion, and now it’s time to get out our whisks and put our oven mitts back on.
We’ve curated a selection of popular bakes to help you get through lockdown. Looking for a mindful project? Give your time at home a purpose and nurture your sourdough from starter to beautiful loaf with our expert guide. Want to fill your kitchen with cosy aromas? Bake a banana loaf or a batch of cinnamon buns. Or if you’re just after a way to entertain the kids for an afternoon, with a great reward at the end, then try our simple peanut butter cookies, or even a four-ingredient soda bread.
Best lockdown baking ideas
Classic banana bread – for a slice of THE lockdown bake
During the first lockdown, social media feeds were flooded with loaves of banana bread. We can see why – it’s simple to make, uses storecupboard ingredients, and makes good use of those seemingly unsalvageable black bananas. Fortunately, the likes of flour and eggs are back in stock, after the initial shortage. Our classic loaf requires just six ingredients, perfect for an easy teatime treat or breakfast snack.
Once you’ve mastered this super-moist, squidgy loaf, step up your game and try our vegan banana bread, peanut butter banana bread and chocolate banana bread. Or, for something really unique, try our spiced pineapple and banana loaf.
Homemade sourdough – for a mindful daily project
Baking fresh bread is one of the most rewarding experiences a home baker can have. Making your own sourdough takes this experience to the next level, as you get to control every part of the process, using the simplest of ingredients – just flour and water. Make the most of the extra time at home and give the long winter months a sense of purpose. olive’s deputy food editor, Adam Bush, is an expert sourdough baker, so join in and follow his step-by-step guide.
Sourdough starter. One of the most important elements in baking sourdough at home is having a good starter. You may have heard stories of people jealously guarding and nurturing their starter, naming it, carefully feeding it and controlling the temperature and environment it lives in. In truth, this makes it sound a lot more complicated than it is. Here’s how to get started.
Portuguese custard tarts – for brightening lockdown days
These beautiful little bakes are enough to brighten anyone’s day, even in the depths of lockdown. Inject some sunshine into the kitchen with our step-by-step recipe from the olive test kitchen. You could even have a themed breakfast or afternoon tea and invite your family or bubble members to enjoy a spot of escapism with cinnamon-laced pastéis de nata and a pot of freshly brewed coffee. We have a video to guide you through some of the more technical steps.
Chocolate chip cookies – for easy indulgence
Name someone who doesn’t like chocolate chip cookies. It can’t be done! There are so many cookie recipes out there, and we loved seeing people’s bakes on social media during the first lockdown, cooling on racks with pools of melting chocolate and a sprinkling of salt. There’s nothing fancy about these cookies – just a sweet, crisp outside and soft, chewy middle – perfection. Here’s how to get your cookies right, every time. Packed with oozing dark chocolate and topped with sea salt flakes, these quick cookies make an easy weekend treat.
Focaccia – for an afternoon of creative baking
Focaccia is a puffy Italian flatbread made using plenty of olive oil and with a distinctive dimpled top. It is a yeasted bread and so follows a normal knead/rise/prove process but it’s during the shaping and finishing that it takes on its familiar appearance. Take your focaccia to the next level to create your own focaccia art, you may have spotted these pretty loaves popping up all over Instagram. Choose whichever toppings you like, as long as they can survive the heat of the oven. For our decorations we use red chillies, black olives, flat-leaf parsley, aubergine cut into long thin strips and capers. You could also try halved cherry tomatoes, green olives, rosemary and thyme sprigs and non-melty cheeses like feta and goat’s cheese. It’s all about experimenting and being creative, so make your own and show us what you’ve made on social media @olivemagazine.
Make our stuffed focaccia for a more substantial lunch idea.
Chocolate rye crinkle cookies – for experimenting with flours
The first lockdown was a time of experimenting with alternative flours, as the shortages meant people were digging out bags from the cupboard and using what they could. Edd Kimber (our baking columnist and original GBBO winner) loves baking with wholemeal rye flour. It’s one of his go-to ingredients that he uses as a flavour enhancer, and it gives a rich, fudgy centre. These dainty cookies make the perfect snack to enjoy with a cup of coffee.
Cinnamon buns – for a kitchen escape
Fill your home with the sweet scent of cinnamon for a therapeutic Scandinavian escape without leaving the kitchen. Bake and enjoy now or save for a weekend breakfast – just make sure to eat them warm from the oven.
Flapjacks – for a healthier lockdown bake
It’s great to have a few healthier bakes up your sleeve to enjoy during lockdown for breakfast and nutritious snacks. This is a one-pan baked treat that anyone can master, made a little healthier with medjool dates, sultanas, pumpkin seeds and almond butter. Experiment by adding your favourite nuts, seeds and dried fruit to create a new variety every week of lockdown – now that’s a challenge!
Soda bread – for simple, yeast-free baking
In the first lockdown, home bakers found yeast trickier to get hold of. Baking with yeast can be daunting at any time of year, so it’s always good to have a soda bread recipe up your sleeve. This easy Irish soda bread takes less than an hour to make, so is ideal for when you’re in a hurry to get some bread on the table. It uses just four ingredients, including plain and wholemeal flour, bicarbonate of soda and buttermilk.
Flourless peanut butter cookies – for baking with kids
No flour? No problem! Nutty, buttery and quick to make, these crisp peanut butter cookies are gluten-free and great for baking with kids. Have them ready in just under 30 minutes for a quick family crowdpleaser.
Chocolate cupcakes – for family baking
Sometimes you just need a cupcake to make everything better. These indulgent chocolate cakes with decadent buttercream were one of our most popular bakes in 2020. They are fun for the whole family to make, super easy and easily rationed to one per day (if you have the willpower not to devour in one go!).
Try our most popular chocolate brownies for another family-friendly chocolaty bake.