The Great British Bake Off returns on September 21st!

This year more than ever, it seems to have crept up on us – the nights drawing in and the weather starting to turn, finding ourselves reaching for scarves buried at the back of the wardrobe and kicking at the fallen leaves covering the pavement. Yes, it's hard to believe, but autumn is here! And among the many joys of this cosiest of seasons, there’s one we simply could not do without that’s right, the Great British Bake Off...

This annual tradition has been marking the end of summer since all the way back in 2010, and if you’re anything like us you’re unable to imagine autumn without it.

Well, thankfully you won’t have to! On September 21st, a fresh set of contestants will take that scary step into the Bake Off tent. That means we’ve got ten weeks of mishaps and triumphs to look forward to!

A cake on a wooden table with raspberries alongside the cake for decoration.

A British institution

Whether you’re a long-time devotee or a new convert, we know you’ll be just as excited as we are to see the Great British Bake Off back on our screens.

From the truly memorable showstoppers to the inevitable (and, we have to admit, hilarious) technical challenge catastrophes, there’s so much to get excited about. Will this season give us the next Nadiya, Ruby or Kim-Joy – or perhaps the next #bingate?

But GBBO isn’t just a much-needed comfort blanket to keep us warm as the sun makes its final farewells for the year – it’s also an incentive to roll up our sleeves and get involved.

A chocolate cake with blueberries on the top

The baking cure

Baking is one of the most therapeutic activities there is, so it’s no surprise that plenty of people have found themselves turning to it to get them through the past year-and-a-half. All that kneading and beating can help keep the mind off the craziness of the world outside, and the smell of freshly baked bread is enough by itself to cure the rainy-day blues.

Not to mention how popular you’re going to be with friends and neighbours when you’ve got trays full of goodies to hand out to the first comers!

A red velvet cake on a wooden chopping board.

So, whether you’re a long-time baker – maybe with some Bake Off aspirations of your own! – or you’ve never picked up a rolling pin in your life, there’s no better time to get inspired, grab your apron, and start baking.

Of course, if you are a beginner, that can be easier said than done. Watching the contestants craft elaborate structures from bread or biscuit can be more intimidating than inspiring – as can the incredible stress that seems to fill that iconic tent from the very first moment of the series.

Our advice: pick something you like, start simple, and try to enjoy it! You’re doing this for fun, remember?

Getting prepared

First things first, you’ll need to get prepared. Without the right equipment, your baking journey will get off to a rocky start.

While there are some essentials you will likely have ready to go – a rolling pin and a baking tin, for instance – there’s one appliance that’ll make the difference between an uphill battle and smooth sailing: a mixer!

Whether you’re whisking eggs to make a batter or beating your dough to ensure your bread rises to perfection, trying to do it by hand is a recipe for cramped wrists and frustration. Instead, why not invest in a Swan 800W Retro Stand Mixer? It comes with a dough hook, whisk, and beater attachments, so whatever your goals – from making delicious white bloomers to multi-tiered cake extravaganzas – you’ll bet set and ready to go.

And with a choice of colours – from subtle cream to eye-catching purple – you’ll be able to make it the perfect addition to your kitchen décor! When it comes to baking, we can’t pretend the aesthetic doesn’t matter…

A cake being baked in the oven.

A piece of cake

So, you’ve got your new Retro Stand Mixer set up, bags of flour and blocks of butter ready to go… What now?!

Well, if you’ve got a sweet tooth, there’s nowhere better to get started than with cake. Simple, forgiving, and oh so delicious, there’s a reason why GBBO almost always starts with cake week!

And why not go straight for a true classic – the Victoria sandwich. This true icon of British baking is also fabulously easy to make, as you can see from our traditional recipe. With simple ingredients and a quick baking time, you’ll have your first masterpiece resting on a rack and ready to eat before you know it.

Or if you just want to dip your toe in the waters, you can even start with something that doesn’t require turning the oven on! Our microwave mug cake is the definition of a life hack – just 80 seconds in the microwave will leave you with a piping hot cup full of deliciousness. We’ve even got a recipe for a fridge cake! As you might have guessed, this requires no baking whatsoever, so it’s the perfect way to get started if you’ve always considered yourself baking-averse.

And let’s get this out of the way early on, too – baking doesn’t have to be all about the calorie-dense treats. There are plenty of healthier options that you can focus on if you prefer. For instance, if you own a Swan Retro 6L Manual Air Fryer, you can try your hand at making an air fryer carrot cake using our fun recipe. Is there anything these amazing pieces of technology can’t do?!

Of course, if you’re already confident with your cakemaking, there’s plenty of more technical options out there to test your skills. Why not have a go at making a perfect mirror glaze? There’s no better way to show off what a baking wizard you are!

A selection of chocolate chip cookies on a white plate.

Taking the biscuit

Once you’ve got yourself in the swing of things, the next step is biscuits! If you love to have people round for a cuppa and a catch-up, a plate of homemade biscuits is the perfect complement.

If you want to start simple, our zingy lemon butter biscuits are a great choice. They’re easy to make and should only take 25 minutes from beginning to end – plenty of time to have another swing at it if it doesn’t quite go right the first time! Or, if you’re a chocolate fiend, try our melt in the middle chocolate biscuits. Just don’t blame us if they don’t last long enough to offer them around…

Assorted shortbreads and other biscuits

Biscuits are also a great choice for celebrations. Halloween is coming up, and that may well mean lots of little ghosts and ghouls knocking at your door and demanding “trick or treat!” Of course, you can’t go wrong with a bowl full of chocolates, but why not push the boat out and bake some spooky spider biscuits?

And finally, if it all goes wrong, no need to worry – there’s plenty of things you can do with burnt biscuits! Waste not, want not…

Freshly made bread.

Our daily bread

However sweet your tooth is, you mustn’t forget the savoury side of things!

As any GBBO fanatic will know, bread week is where a great many bakers feel the wrath of Paul’s “digit of doom” poking its way into the still-raw centre of their loaf. And how many times have you heard a contestant confess, with a hint of trepidation, that they really don’t bake much bread…?

Well, whether you’re just not a fan of the sweet stuff or you’re a self-confessed bread fanatic, you’ll want to make sure you’re ready for the wrath of Hollywood by getting in some practice.

Bread is notoriously challenging to bake – hence even avid bakers avoiding it! – but there’s no need to be put off. Our easy-bake bread recipe is a great place to start. Why not practice a few times until you’ve got the basics down? After all, it’s not possible to have too much bread! And even the ones that go a bit wrong are still delicious.

Slicing bread with a bread knife

Soon enough, you’ll be graduating to something more elaborate. Our pesto bread wreath will really wow any guests over the holidays – and you’ll have plenty of time to perfect it between now and Christmas!

Bread is notoriously challenging to bake – hence even avid bakers avoiding it! – but there’s no need to be put off. Our easy-bake bread recipe is a great place to start. Why not practice a few times until you’ve got the basics down? After all, it’s not possible to have too much bread! And even the ones that go a bit wrong are still delicious.

Soon enough, you’ll be graduating to something more elaborate. Our pesto bread wreath will really wow any guests over the holidays – and you’ll have plenty of time to perfect it between now and Christmas!

Switch off and tune in

Whether you’re taking up the challenge of becoming next year’s star baker and securing your own Hollywood handshake, or you just fancy a way to keep your mind off the state of the world right now, there’s no better time than now to take up baking.

But if you just fancy spending ten weeks watching the trials and tribulations that unfold in the legendary Great British Bake Off tent, that’s okay too. Make yourself a cuppa and crack open the store-bought biscuits – we’re not telling!

And if you do use one of our recipes to get yourself in the mood for the Bake Off, be sure to tag us on social media and let us see the delicious results!