8 showstopping recipes from all the previous GBBO winners
Get your aprons ready, The Great British Bake Off is almost upon us; the first episode airs on Tuesday August 28. We're in for a feast of sponge and buttercream, marzipan marvels, immaculate sculptures moulded from biscuit dough (plus the usual baking-related disasters and a few tears).
In preparation for the big event, we tracked down the previous Bake Off champions for tips, tricks, and of course, some delectable recipes.
On your marks, get set, bake...
Edd Kimber, 33, winner 2010
Kimber now has three books to his name, as well as a blog, The Boy Who Bakes. He’s currently in America working on a magazine, Baked From Scratch. “We’ve just finished the August issue, which involved getting some of the best bakers in the UK to reveal what British baking’s all about”. But is Bake Off big in America? “It’s massive. There’s something very appealing about something as simple and homely as Bake Off.”
Mixed berry Charlotte
For the sponge fingers
3 large eggs, separated
100g caster sugar
75g plain flour
For the raspberry bavarois
6 sheets of gelatin
125ml whole milk
6 large egg yolks
125g caster sugar
2 tbsp crème de framboise
375ml whipping cream
For the decoration
400g assorted berries
Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/Gas 4.
Draw a 20cm circle on a sheet of baking parchment, turn it over and put it on to a baking sheet. Draw two long rectangles 8cm wide on another sheet of baking parchment and turn it over on a second tray.
To make the biscuits, put the egg whites in a clean bowl and whisk until they form stiff peaks. Continue to whisk while you slowly pour in the sugar until the meringue is stiff and glossy.
Beat the egg yolks in a separate bowl until pale and thickened, then scrape on to the meringue and fold together. In two additions, sift the flour over the meringue and gently fold together.
Transfer the biscuit mixture to a piping bag fitted with a 1.5cm plain piping tip. Pipe a disc of mixture on to the baking parchment, using the circle as your template. On the second tray, pipe strips horizontally inside the rectangles, making sure the strips are touching; you want two long strips to wrap around the mousse. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until golden.
To make the bavarois, put the gelatin in a bowl and cover with ice-cold water. Set aside to soak. Pulse the raspberries in a food processor until smooth. Press through a fine sieve to remove the seeds, and measure out 250ml raspberry purée. Pour into a medium pan and add the milk, then bring it to the boil over a medium heat.
Put the egg yolks and sugar in a heatproof bowl and whisk until pale. Once the milk mixture has come to the boil, pour it over the yolks, whisking constantly. Pour this mixture back into the pan, return it to the heat and cook until it has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon (or it reaches 75-80C). Pour into a clean bowl and add the crème de framboise.
Squeeze the water out of the gelatin and stir the gelatin into the custard until dissolved. Cover the bowl with cling film and put in the fridge until the mixture just begins to set.
Put the sponge disc on to a serving plate and put a 23cm cake ring over it. Take the strips of sponge fingers and trim off the base edges so that they will make a flush fit. Put the strips around the edge of the ring, cut-side at the base, trimming so they sit snugly around the inside.
Pour the cream into a medium bowl and whisk until it just starts to hold soft peaks. Pour into the custard and fold together using a spatula. Pour into the ring and transfer to the fridge to set completely.
To serve, carefully remove the ring and top with the berries.
Jo Wheatley, 49, winner 2011
Mother-of-three Jo Wheatley has published two books (including Home Baking) and set up a cookery school since winning. But right now, she’s having a well-deserved break.
“I’m doing nothing at the moment! I decided to pull back and chill out. We decided we want to travel a bit, so we’re spending the rest of the summer in Cannes.”
She advises this year’s contestants to do the same. “Relax and enjoy it! I know it’s almost impossible, but it makes it so much easier. When you’re stressed out, it comes out in the baking.”
“For home bakers, my biggest piece of advice would be to make sure you’ve got all your ingredients ready and weighed out before you start so that you’re not running around and searching through the cupboards. Also, remember to preheat your oven!”
Blueberry, lemon and passion fruit pavlova
For the meringue
8 egg whites
400g caster sugar
For the topping
400ml double cream
4 tbsp good-quality lemon curd
1 punnet blueberries
3 passion fruits
Preheat the oven to 90C/70C fan/lowest gas.
Whip the egg whites in a very clean bowl to the soft peak stage. Keeping the whisk running, start to add the sugar one tablespoon at a time (don’t even try rushing). Continue to whisk until, when you place a little of the meringue between your thumb and forefinger, it doesn’t feel gritty. If your meringues “bleed”, it is because you are adding the sugar too quickly or not blending the sugar and egg whites properly.
Draw round a large dinner plate on a piece of parchment and place this on a large flat baking sheet. Pipe or spoon small blobs within the circle until it is full, then transfer the remaining meringue mixture into a piping bag and pipe small meringue kisses (teardrop shapes) on to another lined baking tray.
Place in the oven and leave for five to six hours (or even longer – keeping it low and slow will ensure really white meringues).
The meringue should lift away from the paper; if there is any resistance, leave it for longer. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely before carefully lifting the meringue circle and separate kisses from the parchment.
For the filling, whip the cream to very soft peaks (the lemon curd will thicken it, so don’t over-whip). Fold in the lemon curd and spoon this over the meringue, piling it up, and tumble over the blueberries. Cut the passion fruits in half, taking care to save the juice, and spoon the flesh over the blueberries.
Finish with the meringue kisses dotted on top.
John Whaite, 29, winner 2012
‘Remain calm. It’s so easy to get emotional, because food is such an extension of who you are,” is the advice Whaite would offer to this year’s blooming bakers.
“Any criticism of food you produce can easily be misconstrued as a personal attack, but it’s not. Just listen to what the judges have to say, and take it on board for the next round.
“Don’t go in trying to establish yourself as a food personality. You’ve got to work hard in an industry before you can be entitled to anything.”
Since his time in the tent, Whaite has published four cookery books (the latest is called Comfort, and another is due out next year), appeared as resident chef on ITV’s Lorraine programme, and co-presented Chopping Block with Rosemary Shrager.
He has also opened his own cookery school in Lancashire, which is temporarily closed, as he returns to his legal studies to become a barrister.
“I’ve had six great years since Bake Off, but I’m taking a decided step back from TV,” he says. “I feel more in control of my career when it comes to my cookery school and my books, and I want go back to law because in a courtroom you can be a fighter for justice. I think I can do both.”
Summer berry, mahlab and ricotta tart
“The fruits are interchangeable here – strawberries, blueberries, even gooseberries, would be a welcome addition to this tart. Mahlab is the dried pit of a particular wild cherry, and offers the nutty, stone fruit twang of amaretto liqueur and Bakewell tarts. It is widely available online – just make sure you buy it ready-ground.”
SERVES 10 to 12
For the fruit filling
75g caster sugar
1 tbsp ground mahlab (optional)
For the pastry
180g unsalted butter, at room temperature
75g caster sugar
1 large egg
300g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
½ tsp fine salt
1 large egg, beaten, to glaze
For the ricotta filling
100g caster sugar
2 large eggs
Put the berries into a medium saucepan with the sugar – you don’t need to add any extra liquid because the sugar will draw the juice out of the berries. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring frequently to prevent the fruit from burning until you have a thick, pulpy sauce – about 10 minutes. Stir in the mahlab, if using. Allow to cool completely.
Put the butter and sugar for the pastry into the bowl of an electric stand mixer (or use a hand-held electric beater, or a wooden spoon and elbow grease) and beat with the paddle attachment until pale and fluffy.
Add the egg gradually and allow it to incorporate fully into the butter. The egg may curdle with the butter at this stage – this isn’t ideal, but it won’t ruin the pastry so carry on regardless.
Throw in the flour and salt and beat, but just until it all comes together into a smooth paste. Scrape the paste on to a piece of cling film, flatten into a disc, and wrap up. The paste will be very sticky. Refrigerate for an hour.
When the pastry has chilled, remove it from the fridge and beat it with a rolling pin to warm it slightly. Take half of the pastry and roll it into a thin disc that is a little larger than a 25cm loose-bottom fluted tart tin. Use it to line the tin, ensuring you tuck the pastry right down into the corners and press it into the fluted edges.
Fold any surplus over the edge of the tin, then roll your rolling pin over the top from bottom to top, then side to side, cutting away the surplus pastry. Prick the base all over with a fork.
Roll the other half of pastry into a square that is just larger than the tart tin. Cut this square into 12 even strips – put these on to a baking sheet and pop them into the fridge to keep cool.
Preheat the oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5 and place a baking sheet on the bottom shelf of the oven.
Put the cooled fruit filling into an even layer in the pastry case – it’s helpful to smooth it out with the back of a spoon.
In a mixing bowl beat together the ricotta, sugar and eggs until smooth. Blob this mixture on top of the fruit filling, then carefully spread it out with the back of a spoon into an even layer, concealing all of the fruit.
Carefully lay the strips of pastry on top of the ricotta filling in a lattice pattern, trimming away the surplus as necessary.
Glaze the pastry well with the beaten egg, then pop the tart on to the preheated baking sheet and bake for 40 to 45 minutes until the pastry is deeply browned and the ricotta filling is puffed up and just ever so slightly golden.
Comfort by John Whaite is published by Kyle Books (£19.99)
Frances Quinn, 36, winner 2013
With a creative background in graphic design, Quinn’s cookbook Quinntessential Baking, published in 2015, revealed how to transform simple bakes into magical creations; is it a brownie, or an owl? A ball of marzipan, or a bumblebee? She’s even broken the world record for producing the world’s largest Jaffa Cake.
“I see everything as food,” she admits. “If I see a red brick wall, I’ll see gingerbread biscuits cemented together, and soil as crumbled chocolate cake. I always carry a pencil and pad to note down ideas.”
The advice she would offer to any would-be Bake Off contestant? “Stay true to yourself. You are going to receive constructive criticism. Learn from that, but don’t let go of what you love to do – even if it doesn’t always go to plan.
“Some of the most popular desserts came about by mistake; Eton Mess, tiffin – unless it’s burnt to smithereens, just adapt it.”
For the flapjack
200g butter, roughly chopped
200g golden caster sugar
4 tbsp golden syrup
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
400g porridge oats
80g dried cranberries
200g white chocolate, chopped into small pieces
200g fresh raspberries
200g fresh blueberries
200g dried cranberries
Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/Gas 4. Grease and line a 20 x 27cm brownie tin, leaving the paper hanging over the edges on two opposite sides, to make it easier to lift out.
Put the butter, sugar, syrup and lemon zest in a medium saucepan. Set it over a medium heat and warm, stirring occasionally, until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved.
Take the saucepan off the heat and stir in the oats and cranberries, combining everything thoroughly.
Transfer the mix to your lined tin. Smooth the surface level using a cranked palette knife or dough scraper. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until lightly golden brown around the edges.
Once out of the oven, it’s a good idea to use the palette knife to gently pat down and even out the edges of the flapjack, which can rise at the sides.
Allow the flapjack to cool fully in the tin before removing it. Place on a chopping board and remove the paper.
Melt the white chocolate in a microwave or a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Pour the chocolate over the flapjack and spread with a palette knife to create a smooth, even surface. Allow the chocolate to cool and firm up slightly before creating your flag design (left).
You can, if you like, lightly score guidelines on the white chocolate with the end of a cocktail stick.
Start by creating the central raspberry cross, two raspberries (about 4cm) wide, placing the raspberries rounded end upwards on the chocolate. Carefully cut the remaining raspberries into pieces to fill in any gaps so no white chocolate is visible through the cross.
Next create the blueberry sections. After the main shapes have been created, cut the remaining blueberries into pieces with a sharp knife and fill in the gaps.
Finally, place the cranberries in diagonal lines, inserting the dried fruit into the chocolate so that they stick up and are level with the fresh berries. Leave to set before serving.
Recipe from Quintessential Baking by Frances Quinn (Bloomsbury, £25)
Nancy Birtwhistle, 64, winner 2014
Since her time in the tent, the ex-NHS worker and grandmother of eight has been getting to grips with the world of social media. “I set myself a challenge in February last year. Across social media, I was going to post every day for 365 days with a recipe, a tip or a how-to video. Not just baking, but cooking, household things – everything. I’ll tell you, it was hard. But when it came to the end, all these followers began messaging me saying, ‘don’t stop, this is part of my daily routine’, so I decided to continue.”
What advice would Birtwhistle give to this year’s bakers? “Keep your head on and try not to give in to nerves. Practise, practise, practise. If you’re going into that tent unrehearsed it’s going to show. For the final, bearing in mind we had a week, I did my showstopper three times.”
Birtwhistle is a big fan of the refreshed show: “I love the new format! I thought the adverts might be the biggest issue, but they don’t bother me at all. I catch up on social media – having Twitter on next to you during Bake Off is hilarious.”
Follow Nancy on Twitter @nancybbakes and Instagram @nancy.birtwhistle
Summer frosted cake
SERVES Eight to 10
For the sponge
4 large eggs
150g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
75g plain flour
1 tsp baking power
50g butter, melted and cooled but still runny
For the frosting
3 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
50g caster sugar
250ml whole milk
300ml whipping cream
For the decoration
500g fresh late-summer fruits (blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, plums, kiwi)
Preheat the oven to 175C/155C fan/Gas 3½. Grease and line the base of a 23cm loose-bottomed cake tin.
In a large mixing bowl whisk together the eggs, sugar and vanilla for the cake until light, mousse-like and doubled in size. Placing your bowl over a pan of simmering water – will speed up the mixing.
When you lift the whisk out of the mixture it should leave a trail. If not, continue whisking.
Sift over the flour, cornflour and baking powder and fold in gently, taking care not to knock out that valuable air.
Pour in the cooled melted butter and stir this through. Transfer to the tin and bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the cake is well risen and golden brown. It may start to darken after about 15 to 20 minutes – cover with a piece of foil with a hole in the centre if so. This will protect the cake from browning too much.
When baked, remove from the oven and leave on a cooling rack, still in its tin, for about 15 minutes. Then, run a knife around the edges and remove the tin for the cake to cool completely.
To make the frosting, start by making a thick pastry cream. Place the egg yolks, vanilla, sugar and cornflour in a medium-sized saucepan and mix to a thick paste. Gradually pour over the milk and stir.
Place over a medium heat and keep stirring all the time until the mixture heats and thickens.
Remove from the heat, give it a good beating, then transfer to a bowl, cover and leave to go completely cold (this can be made up to three days in advance and kept in the fridge).
Whisk the whipping cream in a large bowl until thick and standing in peaks, then whisk this into the cold pastry cream, little by little, until you have a very thick, smooth frosting.
Slice the cooled sponge in half horizontally. Sandwich the two halves together with some frosting then use the remainder to cover the top and sides of the cake. Chill in the fridge for a couple of hours to firm up.
Decorate with as much fresh fruit as you can.
Follow Nancy on Twitter @nancybbakes and Instagram @nancy.birtwhistle
Nadiya Hussain, 33, winner 2015
Hussain’s rise has been stratospheric: in 2016, she baked the cake for the 90th birthday celebrations of Queen Elizabeth II, and in 2017, she was named one of the 500 most influential people in the UK by Debrett’s.
She’s now an established television presenter with numerous TV cookery shows under her belt, including Nadiya’s Family Favourites and Nadiya’s British Food Adventure – which saw her board a sea fishing boat off the Norfolk coast, only to suffer seasickness. “My face was green! But I’m glad you had a good laugh at my expense,” she jokes.
As well as releasing five cookbooks, she has also penned a novel, The Secret Lives of the Amir Sisters. “Bake Off gave me the opportunity to find out that, after my children, baking, cooking and writing are by far my first loves,” she has said. Her next book, Nadiya’s Bake Me a Celebration Story, will be released on Sept 20, featuring 30 activities, recipes and stories for children celebrating festivals such as Holi, Thanksgiving, Hallowe’en and Easter.
Hussain has also spoken out about mental health, openly discussing her experiences of anxiety and panic disorder. She might have a “crazy, busy schedule”, but family life is a priority. “We have family games, fish and chips and a movie every Friday as a family,” she says. Her go-to for home baking inspiration? She heads to her local market to browse for unusual ingredients with her mum.
Raspberry ice cream cake
For the cake
250g salted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
250g caster sugar
5 medium eggs
250g self-raising flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
For the ice cream
300ml double cream
4 tbsp icing sugar
4 tbsp golden syrup
14g freeze-dried raspberries
150g fresh raspberries
Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/Gas 4. Grease the base and sides of a 20cm round loose-bottomed cake tin and line it with baking paper.
Put the butter and sugar into a mixing bowl and beat until very light and fluffy. Crack in one egg at a time, making sure to beat well after each. Add the flour and baking powder and mix until you have a smooth batter.
Pour the mixture into the prepared tin, level off the surface and bake for 50 minutes on the middle shelf of the oven.
The cake is ready when a skewer inserted comes out clean. Leave it to cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then remove and leave to cool further on a wire rack.
Once the cake has completely cooled, use a large serrated knife to level off the top if it has formed a dome. Pop any scraps of cake into a bowl.
Use a smaller knife to hollow out the inside of the cake. From the outside edge, come in about 2cm and cut vertically all the way round, creating an inner ring in the cake, but being very careful not to go all the way down.
Cut wedges in this inner circle as you would any cake, again making sure not to cut all the way to the bottom, then hollow out using a spoon. Put all the scraps into the bowl. You will only need 100g of scraps for the ice cream, so the rest can be a well-deserved snack.
Make the ice cream by putting the cream, icing sugar and golden syrup into a bowl and whisking to soft peaks. Add the freeze-dried raspberries and 100g of the cake scraps. Mix well.
Put the mixture into the hollowed-out cake and level off the surface. Pop the cake on to a freezer tray and cover the top with the fresh fruit.
Freeze for a minimum of two hours. If freezing overnight, you may need to take the cake out of the freezer for 15 minutes before serving so that it’s soft enough to cut.
Recipe from Nadiya’s Family Favourites (Michael Joseph, £20)
Candice Brown, 33, winner 2016
Brown won the last series that aired on BBC One, judged by Mary Berry. Her highlights included crafting a British pub out of gingerbread (inspired by growing up in a family of publicans). During Tudor week, she created a mighty marzipan peacock with blueberry innards, which earned her a star baker hat trick.
Known for her creative cursing (“Oh, you Mother Hubbard!”), vintage style and bright lipstick, as well as for her rustic, homely bakes, after her triumph in the tent she left her job as PE teacher at a school near home in Bedfordshire to pursue a full-time career in TV and baking.
Brown’s book, Comfort: Delicious Bakes and Family Treats, was published in July last year and contains a recipe for florentines as made by her grandmother, to whom she says she owes her baking skills.
“My nan was the best. Her baking was amazing – I spent a lot of time growing up with her and my grandad and she was always baking and cooking,” she has said. “I stood next to her on the brown dining chair that I dragged through to the kitchen, watching in complete adoration.”
Lemon and blackberry drizzle cake
SERVES Eight to 10
115g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
115g unsalted butter, softened
165g golden caster sugar
2 medium eggs
1 tsp fresh lemon thyme leaves
About 50g icing sugar
Shreds of lemon zest
Fresh lemon thyme sprigs
Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/Gas 4. Grease a 450g loaf tin and line with greaseproof paper.
Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl and add the soft butter and 115g of the caster sugar, along with the eggs.
Grate the zest from two of the lemons into the bowl. Squeeze the juice from half of the third lemon and add, along with the lemon thyme leaves. Beat with an electric mixer just until smooth and light (take care not to over-mix). Fold in the blackberries.
Pour the mixture into the tin. Bake for 45-50 minutes until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean (avoid skewering a blackberry if you can!). Remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly while you make the syrup.
Squeeze the juice from the two lemons you zested and pour into a small saucepan. Add the remaining 50g caster sugar. Set over a medium heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved to make a syrup. Turn the heat up slightly and let the syrup bubble away for a couple of minutes.
Using a skewer, poke holes all over the top of the still-warm cake, then slowly pour the lemon syrup all over the surface so it penetrates right through the sponge. Leave it to cool fully.
Squeeze the juice from the remaining lemon half into a small bowl and stir in enough icing sugar to make a smooth, runny icing.
Once the loaf is cold, drizzle over the icing and top with fresh blackberries, shreds of lemon zest and tiny picked sprigs of lemon thyme.
Recipe from Comfort: Delicious Bakes and Family Treats by Candice Brown (Ebury, £20)
Sophie Faldo, 33, winner 2017
A former Army officer, Faldo served all over the world before working as a surveillance instructor, a personal trainer, a ski instructor – and competing at national level in rowing and track cycling.
Since winning Bake Off she’s been as active as ever. “I’ve got a few more food festivals planned for the summer. I’ve just got back from Kenya; I was there for a week filming for a travel TV show. I’m also in the process of training for something very hard – I can’t tell you what yet! – so it’s all a bit hectic right now.”
Faldo’s advice for the bakers? “It’s stressful and relentless, so try and enjoy whatever you can. I absolutely loved weeks nine and 10 of Bake Off – the technical bakes were all very intricate patisserie, which I found great fun.
“For anyone starting off, I think the key to success is to learn the science behind it. The more you read around the subject, the better your bakes will be.”
Baked cheesecake with amaretto and honey-roasted nectarines
SERVES Eight to 10
For the base
80g digestive biscuits
120g amaretti biscuits
60g unsalted butter, melted
For the filling
550g mascarpone cheese
225g full fat cream cheese
200g caster sugar
2 medium eggs, separated, plus 2 more egg yolks
1 ½ tbsp cornflour
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
2 tsp lemon zest, finely grated
1 tsp orange zest, finely grated
1 tbsp amaretto
For the topping
2 tsp amaretto
Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/Gas 4 and grease and dust a 23cm springform or loose-bottomed cake tin with flour, tapping out any excess.
Blitz the digestive and amaretti biscuits in a food processor until they are fine crumbs. Add the melted butter and pulse briefly to combine. Tip the biscuit mixture into your prepared tin, spread out and press down with the bottom of a glass to even it out.
Place the tin in the fridge for 10 minutes to firm up and then bake for eight to 10 minutes. Because of the amaretti biscuits, the colour will already be quite a deep brown, so keep an eye on it just to make sure it doesn’t burn. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before adding the filling.
Remove the excess moisture from the mascarpone and cream cheese by wrapping them up in double-layer muslin, gathering up the top and squeezing to wring out as much water as possible. If you can’t get hold of muslin, then allow to sit for a while in a fine meshed sieve lined with two layers of paper towel.
Place the cheese and sugar in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or use an electric hand whisk) and mix on a medium speed for two minutes. Add the egg yolks, cornflour, vanilla, zests and amaretto and continue to whisk until all ingredients are fully combined.
In a separate, clean bowl, whisk the egg whites to soft peaks and then gently fold into the filling mixture.
Pour onto the baked biscuit base. Place in the oven and turn it down slightly to 175C/155C fan/Gas 3½. Bake for about 50 to 60 minutes. The edges of the cheesecake should be set and there should be a slight wobble in the centre.
Turn off the oven and allow to sit until the oven is cool, then place in the fridge. The gradual cooling lets the mixture continue cooking sligand stops the cheesecake splitting.
To make the topping, de-stone the nectarines and cut into wedges, leaving the skin on. Mix the honey and amaretto together in a mug until combined and then pour over the nectarines and toss to coat. Place in an oven at 180C/160C fan/Gas 4 for 15 to 20 minutes. If the fruit becomes too soft it will shrivel when cool. Just cook for long enough to roast in the honey and for the alcohol in the amaretto to cook off. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to at least lukewarm.
De-mould the cheesecake and place on a serving plate. Spoon the fruit and some of the honey drizzle over the chilled cheesecake and serve.