Freshly Baked

Baking dates back thousands of years, when the Ancient Egyptians first baked bread using yeast.

The invention of cutters, rolling pins, cake tins and pie moulds have all helped to shape baking, and social change has meant that baking is no longer a luxury reserved for the rich. Together with the development of ovens and ingredients like baking soda, we can bake with more precision and create lighter cakes.

To celebrate all that is baked, we spoke to local bakers Komal Khan, head chef at Make No Bones on Chesterfield Road, and Sara Percevicius of The Bake Lab to find out why they are passionate about what they do, as well as gathering some top tips.

Tell us about how you got into baking?

[Komal, Make No Bones] I first started baking as a very small child. My mum would buy box kits and we'd make little buns with Tom & Jerry sugar paper stickers for garnish. My favourite part of baking is how meditative it can be. Getting positive feedback is always a bonus.

[Sara, The Bake Lab] Baking has always been a passion, ever since I got my first baking book for my seventh birthday. In 2012, I decided to pursue the art of baking with a full-time course in baking at The School of Artisan Food. After the course, I went to work at Forge Bakehouse for three years, then I branched out on my own.

What can we expect to find you baking?

[Komal] It varies quite a lot, but at home I love making baked donuts. I'll use unrefined ingredients, such as banana, maple syrup, nuts and plant milks, as the finished result tastes better and there's more nutritional benefits.

[Sara] I regularly deliver my bakes to Bragazzi’s and Upshot Espresso. I also do Nether Edge and Sharrow Vale markets every quarter and you can order cakes directly from me. I get really positive reports about my cookie sandwiches, particularly my gluten-free chocolate brownie cookies with a salted caramel filling. I also love a classic cake with a simple buttercream filling, like my orange & almond cake with chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream.

What are your top baking tips?

[Komal] If you like salted caramel, try adding miso to your caramel instead of salt. Wait till it's cooled slightly, so as not to burn the miso. Also, coconut sugar is a delicious alternative to cane in desserts and adds a buttery, caramel flavour to your finished dish.

[Sara] Always read the recipe from start to finish before baking and try to have all your ingredients at room temperature. Get your butter and eggs out of the fridge at least an hour before starting. Ingredients at the same temperature always mix much better, reducing the risk of the mix splitting.

Are there any recipes you're looking forward to trying out?

[Komal] I'm looking forward to summer, as I'm going to attempt ice cream and cheesecakes covered in chocolate. Keep an eye on my Instagram, @nutritionlovingchef, to see how it goes.

[Sara] I have just returned from a trip to Amsterdam and I’m keen to bake some Dutch Spiced Cake, a rye-based cake packed full of spices and stem ginger. It’s perfect with a cup of tea. I’m also planning on testing oliebollen, a dried fruit-laced doughnut covered in icing sugar. They are eaten on New Year’s Eve – but if you like something you should be able to eat it all year round.

Ros Ayres
nibblypig.co.uk instagram.com/thebakelab
twitter.com/makenobonescafe

Chocolate Oat Cookies

Recipe by Komal Khan
Makes 8-10

This is a great recipe for making with younger people because there is no cooking involved. It's also vegan and can be gluten-free if you use gluten-free oats.

1 cup rolled oats
1 cup dark chocolate
1/2 cup almond butter
1 tsp vanilla paste
1 tbsp maple syrup
Dark chocolate, dried fruit and nuts

Melt everything except the oats in a bain marie until smooth. Mix this through the oats until they're coated and drop easily off a spoon. Spoon cookie shaped mounds of the mixture onto non-stick paper and put in the fridge to chill.

Meanwhile, melt the garnishing chocolate. Chop the nuts and fruit if necessary. Once the cookies have cooled and set, spoon over the melted chocolate and arrange the toppings as you wish. Leave to cool a little longer. Once set completely, you can enjoy them.

Photo by Komal Khan