The best ever Great British Bake Off recipes: how to make the delicious desserts at home

Great British Bake Off hosts
As series 11 kicks off, we look back at some of the best bakes of past series; and share our own tasty versions Credit: Mark Bourdillon 

The Great British Bake Off has returned to our screens, and if the first episode is anything to go by, we're in for 10 weeks of unadulterated, sugar-filled fun. 

Overcoming the challenge of filming during the pandemic involved a huge commitment from the 12 contestants, who together with judges Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith, hosts Noel Fielding and Matt Lucas, and the crew, had to isolate together in a 'biosphere' at a hotel in Essex for the duration of the competition. 

Adversities aside, the Bake Off tent feels much the same as always, with new judge Lucas proving a hilarious addition to proceedings. 

To celebrate its return, here we share recipes for the winning bakes of the series, along with many of our favourite bakes from the past nine.

Time to serve up a slice of something sweet...

Series 10 

Tarte tatin

Stephen’s luxurious tarte Tatin, served with home-made vanilla ice cream, is the perfect dessert for cold autumn nights Credit: ANDREW TWORT 

As ever, the bakers who kept it simple (but not too simple) found flavour and texture triumphed over style. And Steph Blackwell's mouth-watering caramelised onion and goat's cheese tarte tatin did just that. This traditional recipe is a great place to start and the pastry base lends itself well to both sweet and savoury variations.  

Tear-and-share spiced and fruity stollen buns

Diana Henry's spiral buns are inspired by the original festive bake, with spices, fruit and almond paste Credit: HAARALA HAMILTON

During 'Festival Week' the bakers were tasked with creating 24 identical buns with the theme of a festival or holiday from around the world. Young Henry Bird's nod to Nordic baking in his winning chocolate kardemummabullar had gentle spice and an indulgent chocolate hit that won over the judges. Try the buns above, they're perfect for an fika break. 

John Whaite's American style birthday cake is what childhood dreams are made of  Credit:  Andrew Crowley

The very first showstopper challenge in 'Cake Week' was a celebration bake inspired by childhood. Though Michelle Evans-Fecci's Tŷ Tylwyth Teg (Fairy House Cake) blew the judges away, for most children, a birthday cake topped with sprinkles and vanilla frosting is the ultimate surprise. 

Series nine

Wagon wheels 

This take on the Wagon Wheel is inspired by an old favourite New Zealand treat, the Lamington Credit: Claudia Brick / The Brick Kitchen

The series that introduced us to the adorably shy and self-deprecating Rahul Mandal. But the 2018 season also reminded us of some classic desserts, such as the humble Wagon Wheel. Follow this recipe to make your own chocolatey snack – a true lunchbox favourite. 

Ginger cake

A pear and ginger number in which the fruit is given a starring role Credit: Laura Hynd

When tasked with creating a ginger cake, each baker had a unique take. We were particularly impressed with Kim-Joy's stem ginger cake with poached pears – as were the judges, as she was named that week's star baker. To make your own, take inspiration from our pear and ginger cake recipe. 

Series eight 

Fresh fruit sponge cake

Top with fresh fruit and a dusting of sugar Credit: Haarala Hamilton

The signature bake for first episode of this series was a fresh fruit cake. While the contestants all had different takes on the dessert, it was Steven Carter-Bailey's Bonfire Night cake that made him the first star baker of the 2017 series. This version keeps things simple, but delicious.

Gizzi Erskine's molten caramel and chocolate pudding is an indulgent twist on a classic

Pudding week in the eighth series saw bakers trying to make molten chocolate puddings for the technical bake round. Sophie Faldo's concotion was deemed the best of the bunch – and she went on the win the series.

If you want to make a molten chocolate pudding with a twist, try Gizzi Erskine's recipe, which incorporates caramel to create a salty, sweet, chocolatey and gooey dessert.

Series seven 

Victoria sponge cake

A citrus twist for a light and fluffy classic Credit: Haarala Hamilton

Producing a perfect Victoria sponge was a surprisingly tricky technical challenge on the show, rolled out for the finale. While baker Andrew Smyth's sponge was highest-ranking in this round, it was Candice Brown who was named the star baker and winner of the series in 2016.  Diana Henry's version has a lick of lemon and lashings of strawberry jam.

Babka loaf

Honey & Co's recipe works roasted nuts and cinnamon into the mix Credit: Patricia Niven

Bread enthusiast Paul Hollywood was unconvinced by Benjamina Ebuehi's Polish babka, declaring it was, actually, a French couronne. Wherever you stand on the debate, the buttery babka is a delicious bake, and a great vehicle for chocolate and hazelnuts, like this one here.

Series six

Dairy-free ice cream

Coconut milk and cream replaces dairy in this delicious dessert Credit: Laura Edwards

In 2015, we saw the first ever 'free-from' episode themed around alternative ingredients. For the showstopper challenge the bakers were asked to make an ice-cream roll using dairy-free ice cream. Nadiya Hussain was the star baker for this round and she went on to win the show. This coconut-milk version is a hit itself – add it to your repertoire.

Home-made sponge fingers and a light bavarois filling Credit: haarala hamilton

In week eight of the sixth series, the amateur bakers took a trip back to the Victorian era in an episode which saw them delving into gelatin-based cakes like the Charlotte Russe. Edd Kimber's mixed berry version is filled with a light raspberry bavarois, making a delightful afternoon tea showstopper. 

Series five

Kouign-amann

The Breton classic, kouign-amann, is particularly tasty when it's homemade Credit: Emmanuel Berthier

Until it featured on Bake Off in 2014, kouign-amann (a Breton pastry, pronounced queen-aman) was little known in Britain. Not one of the bakers had heard of it (a first in the show's history), but they had to create twelve identical butter-and-sugar buns in three and a half hours. Richard Burr was the Star Baker for this round, but the series also put bakers Nancy Birtwhistle and Martha Collison on the map. 

Baked Alaska

Follow our Baked Alaska recipe to ensure you avoid your own Alaska-gate... Credit: Andrew Crowley

Who can forget #bakedalaskagate? There was scandal in the tent when one baker was so unhappy with his baked Alaska, he threw it in the bin. Hopefully, your version will result in a treat without the tantrum.

Series four 

Angel food cake

The angel food cake is surprisingly fluffy and light Credit: Andrew Crowley

The fourth series of GBBO, in 2013, kicked off with a technical challenge to create an angel food cake – an incredibly light bake made with whisked egg whites and no fat. Ruby Tandoh, Glenn Cosby and series winner Frances Quinn starred, but it was Robert Smart's angel cake that most impressed the judges.

A glorious combination of chocolate ganache, sponge, buttercream and coffee Credit: Jonathan Gregson

In the semi-final, the bakers were challenged to bake opera cakes, an iconic French pastry with layers of almond sponge, coffee buttercream and ganache. This chocolate version is requires time and patience to make, but yields delicious results. 

Series three

Rum babas

Rum babas are perfect for those with a sweet tooth Credit: James Bedford

The 2012 series of The Great British Bake Off kicked off with a challenging technical round when Paul Hollywood asked contestants to make rum babas – four, in fact, each filled with cream and topped with sliced fruit. This recipe is a little simpler, and you can even bake them in tin cans.

Gingerbread house

Design, decorate and assemble a magical gingerbread cottage with this expert guide Credit: Haarala Hamilton

Later in series three, the bakers were tasked to make a gingerbread structure – anything but a house. They served up a Big Ben, Colosseum, and a crumbling Buckingham Palace. We think we'll stick to the classic lodge...

Series two

Marble cake

Many Berry's marble loaf is the perfect centrepiece for afternoon tea Credit: Jean Cazals

Undertaking her first signature bake of GBBO series two, in 2011, Janet Basu made a tiered marble cake with dark and white chocolate truffles. Mary Berry's own marble cake also featured in 2015's Comic Relief Bake Off, where contestants had to make a cake that resembled a building. We reckon this version might prove a little easier.

Macarons

Gentle notes of rose and raspberry makes these  delicate macarons well worth the effort 

Later on in series two, the contestants faced one of their hardest trials yet – to fashion a display of macarons that tasted as good as it looked, for the showstopper challenge. There were blueberry versions, pistachio versions, and even pineapple and coconut – but to perfect the technique, this advanced recipe is the perfect place to show off your skills. 

Series one

Chocolate cake 

A wickedly indulgent take on chocolate take with lashings of rich sauce  Credit:  HAARALA HAMILTON

In the first series of Bake Off, which aired in 2010, the inaugural showstopper challenge had the nervous, novice bakers making a chocolate celebration cake. Our favourite was Miranda Gore Browne's indulgent chocolate fudge cake with handmade chocolate buttons. 

Millionaire's shortbread

Jasminder chose to bake millionaire's shortbread for her signature dish

Millionaire's shortbread made an appearance in episode two of the first series, which saw everyone go bonkers for biscuits. This version is finished with edible-gold dusting for extra pizazz.

Sticky toffee pudding

Sticky toffee pudding is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser Credit: Andrew Crowley

In the fourth episode – a programme dedicated to puddings – two contestants rolled out sticky toffee pudding for their signature bake (with Jasminder's starring tropical fruit along with the toffee sauce). A guaranteed crowd-pleaser, if ever there was one.

Read more: The best baking equipment for your kitchen, inspired by The Great British Bake Off

What is your all time favourite Bake Off recipe? Tell us in the comments section below. If you have ever made a masterpiece similar to those on the show, we want to see pictures.