5 out-of-the-ordinary treats to bake

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Given the therapeutic nature of baking – and how it feeds our need for comfort in stressful times – it’s not surprising that this pastime has become so incredibly popular during life in lockdown. If you’ve been whipping up banana breads, scones, cakes and more over the past few weeks and you’re in need of a new challenge, why not try one of these five recipes. They’re a little different, lots of fun and deliciously delectable too.

Pastéis de Nata
The history of pastéis de nata is a fascinating one. First made by the monks at the Jerónimos Monastery in Belém, these baked custard tarts were an ingenious (and entirely delicious) way to use up the egg yolks that were left over after the monks had starched their clothing with egg whites. When the monastery later closed in 1834, the monks sold their now-popular recipe (they sold their pastéis to raise funds after the Liberal Revolution in 1820) to a sugar refinery. And it was the owners of this refinery who, three years later, opened the Fábrica de Pastéis de Belém – still one of the most famous spots to enjoy pastéis in Portugal today. While pastéis de nata require some effort to make, the end result is well worth it. And with this particular recipe, there’s a wonderful video to help you through the toughest part – laminating the pastry. 

Chocolate Beetroot Cake
If you enjoy a slice of cake with your afternoon tea, this recipe is a definite must. Not only is the combination of chocolate and beetroot utterly delicious, but this particular version is also smothered with a decadent fudgy chocolate ganache and raspberry syrup. Yum!

Plaited Bread
Photos of home-baked bread have been popping up on social media platforms across the world since the beginning of lockdown and it’s not surprising given that freshly baked bread has to be one of the most comforting things on earth. With so many recipes to tempt you online, it can be difficult to choose just one, but this plaited cheese and herb bread not only tastes amazing, it looks wonderfully impressive too.

Baklava
You may not be able to travel at the moment, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go an international culinary adventure in your kitchen. Baklava is hugely popular in Greece and Turkey (both countries lay claim to this tempting treat made from layers of flaky pastry, honey and nuts) and is the perfect way to bring warm spicy aromas into your home on a cold, wet afternoon. This delicious recipe “is gently spiced with cinnamon and cardamom, and has a blend of pecans, pistachios and walnuts.”

Apple Tarte Tatin
There’s a fascinating story about the origin of this French classic, which, it seems, was the result of a happy accident in the kitchen of the Hôtel Tatin in Lamotte-Beuvron, Loir-et-Cher in the late 1800s. Apparently, Stéphanie Tatin, one of the two sisters who ran the hotel at the time, left the apples for the apple tart she was making cooking in butter and sugar for too long. In a desperate attempt to save the dessert, she topped the entire pan with pastry and placed it in the oven – the rest is history. Here is Jamie Oliver’s take on this upside-down delight.