Easy Baking For Beginners

Disclaimer: I don’t own some of these recipes and I’m not exactly Nigella. Just putting that out there. Any measurements used are a more-or-less-right approach because I have a manual scale that has seen better days.

I lost my baking virginity back when Mr à La Mode and I first started going out. I was 18 and hopelessly poor during my last few weeks of college just as my EMA was running out. I had exactly £5 for his birthday present and begged my then friend to help me make him a cake. We loaded up on cheap ingredients from ASDA, went back to hers and concocted a butter cream, Nutella and royal icing Victoria sponge. We ran out of icing sugar and used granulated in the butter cream so it had this disgusting crunchy texture that made me feel a bit sick when we tried the leftovers. Predictably, Mr à La Mode loved it and to this day, I’ve never made a cake that he has enjoyed more.

Since then, I’ve tried my hand at the odd thing here and there. I’m a no-skills-no-frills kinda girl. Icing a cake is my worst nightmare. It’s why I don’t make cupcakes anymore. All my bakes tend to be seriously easy. My favourite being flourless chocolate cake (which I’ll get to later) and brownies.

Lately I’ve gotten back into baking and such and I’ve found that I’ve forgotten how to make a lot of things. It was oddly distressing trying to find recipes online for things I once knew how to put together off the top of my head (thank jeebus for the recipe binder my mum got me last Christmas). So I decided to use this opportunity as a back to basics approach and share my easy bakes with the world. Well, WordPress. And those people that specifically follow me.

The easiest thing I’ve ever made, from ingredients knocking about the house, was Cinnamon Swirls with Icing

All you need is:
1 sheet puff pastry (no one makes their own pastry anymore)
20g melted butter
130g light brown sugar
ground cinnamon (to taste)
2tbsp icing sugar
water (as needed)

Thaw the pastry a little, brush it with melted butter. Mix together the sugar and cinnamon then sprinkle over the pastry, patting down so it doesn’t all fall off. Tightly roll along the long side, cut into 12 equal sizes and pop into a buttered muffin tin. Cook for 20-30 minutes. Mix the water and icing together to desired consistency, drizzle over the swirls. Bam, done. Now you have delicious cinnamon treats.

My personal favourite is Flourless Chocolate Cake. This one isn’t my recipe at all, I found it on allrecipes.co.uk. It’s super easy and really quick to make, with only 6 ingredients. My recommendation would be to up the chocolate from 120g to 200g then cook for 50 minutes instead of 30. That way the cake is more dense and ganache-y. Eaten straight from the oven with a blob of ice cream is absolute heaven.

My boyfriend’s favourites are lazy icing cupcakes. He was whining for cake one Sunday afternoon and I could not be bothered making proper cupcake icing, so I came up with this delicious, delicious rubbish:

125g butter
125g flour
125g sugar
2 eggs
1tsp vanilla extract
2tbsp milk
1tsp baking powder
2tbsp icing sugar and water

Mix all that crap together with an electric mixer thing, drop into cupcake liners (Lazy Girl Tip: run an ice cream scoop under the hot tap and use it instead of a spoon when dividing up your mixture. It’s easier to use and your cupcakes will be more evenly baked). Bake for 15-20 minutes. Mix up the icing. Once cooled, stab them all over with a fork and drizzle over the icing. It will set throughout the cake meaning you get icing goodness with every bite.

Apparently, Shortbread is the ultimate easy bake for a beginner, but I have to admit it took me a few attempts to get it right. The recipe that worked for me was one I adapted from a website a few years ago. I have it on good authority that my shortbread is amaze, so hopefully it’ll work for you too.

125g salted butter
55g caster sugar
180g flour

Cream the butter and sugar (I use an electric mixer because I’m really lazy but the best way to do this is with a fork) and mix in the flour. All the recipes I’ve looked at in the past say to stir in it. No. Don’t do that. It takes too long. Rub it between your fingers until it resembles breadcrumbs then squeeze it together until it forms a dough. A lot of recipes also say to roll it out. No, it sticks to the work tops and takes so much longer to work with. Take a blob and work it in your hands until its not literally falling apart then put it on a lightly floured surface, press it down LIGHTLY until its at your desired thickness, cut out your shape and whack it on a baking tray. Repeat until all the dough is gone then sprinkle with caster sugar and put in the fridge for 20 minutes while you heat the oven to 190 (sorry, I’ve no idea what that is in gas marks). Cook for about 15 minutes. It’ll still be soft when it comes out the oven, just leave it to cool. Once cooled, I like to drizzle it (badly) with dark chocolate.

The one thing I make that EVERYONE loses their shit about is my chocolate brownies. I’m about 50% sure they were originally a Nigella recipe, but it’s been years since I started making them so I could be wrong. This recipe is not for the faint of heart. You need to really commit to intaking so much fat in one sitting because these are artery cloggers.

375g unsalted butter
375g dark chocolate (any quality, I use Aldi’s cheapo 30p bars)
6 large eggs
1tbsp of vanilla essence/extract (who cares which)
500g caster sugar
225g plain flour
1tsp salt

Heat the sugar and butter on a LOW heat in a pan until melted. Let it cool a bit and while you wait, preheat the oven to 180, butter a baking tray (Lazy Girl Tip: use cupcake liners for limited clean up) and mix your flour and salt together (I don’t know why, but I always do). Beat the sugar, vanilla and eggs together until the mix is foamy and has almost doubled in size (use a hand mixer jfc don’t use a whisk, you will feel like your hand is about to fall off). Pour the egg mixture into the chocolate and beat until it has thickened slightly. Once thats done, pour in about 1/4 of the flour, beat, another 1/4, beat etc until its used up and very, very thick. Pour this into your greased trays and bake in the middle of the oven for about 20-25 minutes until a knife comes away clean. Once cooled, cut it up how you want. This makes about 50 medium sized brownies or about 40 cupcakes.

So there we are, these are my go-to lazy day recipes when I don’t have much time or just don’t want to put in much effort. I hope these help some beginner bakers out there!

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