My Best Bakes of 2020

As 2020 draws to a close I wanted to recall 12 months of enjoyable baking. I hope it’s of interest to you lovely baking friends out there too, especially if you’re new to baking. I tried to narrow it down to one bake per month, then decided to allow myself two, with pictures, links and a short comment.

January began with a sumptuous Double Chocolate Whole Orange Cake, which took a while to make as it required pureeing the orange, but great fun.

I live in Derbyshire, not far from Bakewell, so I also had to make a mini-homage to the famous Bakewell Tart. I made Blueberry Bakewell Bites. They’re a bit bigger than bitesize (unless you have a very big bite), but I couldn’t resist the alliteration.

In February my Layered Raspberry and Chocolate Cake was another rich offering, especially with its collar of chocolate triangles. It went down well with my ex-colleagues at school.

Less rich and fancy, but great in a different way, are scones. I make lots, sometimes sweet, sometimes savoury, like these Cheddar and Chive Scones.  Freshly baked scones are best eaten the same day, but almost as good from the freezer. Scones freeze well, just bring one or two out in the morning and enjoy them a couple of hours later.  For more super scones click here.

I’d wanted to make Rum Babas for ages and finally got round to it in March. They’re great fun to bake and look so impressive with the addition of colourful fruit and cream. Another colourful bake with a great combination of flavours was this Coconut, Lime and Chocolate Cake, made once again for school.    

During April each year I make lots of Simnel Cakes and other Easter goodies, but here are two bakes for all year round. First is my Fruity Oat Cake, which can claim to be one of the healthiest cakes around with all the oats and fruit it contains.

I also loved making this Chocolate Bundt Cake, that I called “Supa-moist”. It certainly was. Lots of people find that their cakes stick in bundt tins, but I’ve never had that problem. Have a look at the recipe to discover the secret.

During May I had an “English Muffin period” (a bit like Picasso having a pink period) and made various types. Not only did they taste great, but I enjoyed the novelty of using a heavy frying pan to “bake” them. My Rye and Wholemeal Apricot English Muffins are especially good for breakfast. Brownies and Blondies are easy, quick and tasty bakes. I love playing around with different flavours too, so enjoyed these Orange and Blueberry Blondies very much.

I took a bit of a liberty in June and made a Bara Brith that I think is an improvement on Paul Hollywood’s original.  Mine can also be Gluten Free. Maybe that’s why my website has received so many hits on this super recipe. I also made a delicious tray bake with a much-too-long title. Nevertheless my Chocolate-Topped Peanut-Butter Caramel Bars were so popular they weren’t around for very long.

In July I relieved the boredom of lockdown by making this Chocolate and Banana Crumble Cake. I liked having alternating flavours and colours in the mid-layer. The same month saw me experimenting with tasty tarts (sic). Then, after a few average bakes I came up with this lovely Apple and White Chocolate Tart, where the fruity apple balances the rich white chocolate filling perfectly.

During August I combined my love of unusual flavour combinations with my love for baked cheesecakes when I made a Peanut Butter and Cherry Cheesecake. Not only did it actually work, it was truly MEGA. Feeling buoyed up by this, I did a bit more experimenting and made a batch of what I called Billionaire’s Almond Tray Bake, as a development from Millionaire’s Shortbread.

In September I rediscovered my Bundt tin and made a Blueberry and White Chocolate Bundt Cake. The lovely shape always looks impressive; it tasted pretty good too. I haven’t mentioned bread yet, so let’s put that right. I bake some sort of bread most weeks, usually a basic, but lovely, white sourdough or a flavoured soda bread, which I tend to give away to elderly members of my church who live locally. Click here for lots of great bread recipes. This one I called my Mediterranean Soda Bread.  Like all soda breads, it’s fantastically quick to make. (It took me longer to spell the name correctly than to bake the bread.)

From October into December I lost track of all the different brownies and blondies that I baked, usually to give away to deserving people: our excellent postman, the refuse collection team, the admin team at church, the lady down the lane who sells eggs and many of our neighbours. Anyway, it was a hard choice narrowing it down to one brownie, but here goes. You’ll love these Honeycomb Brownies. I actually made them gluten free and I made the honeycomb myself, which was so easy. I said earlier that I love cheesecakes. If you too are enamoured by these wonderful items have a look at all of these.  This month I made Chocolate and Orange Cheesecake for a lovely family that we deliver food parcels to from church. 

Another foodbank bake, this time in November, for a different family, was my Lemon and Ricotta Swiss Roll. Swiss rolls always look tricky, but they’re not, so give this one a go. Another impressive, but easy, bake was my Apricot and Cherry Loaf Cake, which quickly became a popular website request. For other easy and delicious loaf cakes look here.  

December has to reflect all the Christmas orientated baking that I loved doing, for home use and for others. Forgive me for slipping in an “extra” bake this month, but I simply had to provide the link to my Cherry and Almond version. It’s definitely worth a visit if only for all the great decorating options. Earlier in the month I took a bake into school for the first time in months. Teachers are unsung heroes, very much on the “pandemic front line”, so they deserved a treat and loved my Christmas Cake tray Bake. I said earlier that I love brownies and I can’t resist alliteration (I am an ex-English teacher after all.) so these were going to be called Brilliant Bourbon Biscuit Based Brownies, but even I thought that was a bit over the top. Instead I called them Biscuit-based Brownies with Marzipan & Cranberries. Still tasty, still gooey, still scrumptious.

I hope you’ve enjoyed what, for me, has been a wonderful 12 month trip down Baking Memory Lane. There are still a few days of 2020 left. My only planned bake is a Left-Over-Turkey Pie. After that it’ll be time to think about 2021 bakes. May God bless you with a happy and safe year ahead.