• Holidays & short breaks in the UK's most beautiful forests

Bake off for beginners

The Great British Bake Off is hotting up and we have been inspired to try our hand at some baking of our own. Here we share some great recipes – just don't ask us for any cooking tips!

As millions turn on their TVs to witness the return of the famous white tent, and marvel at the astonishing creations week after week on Channel 4's Great British Bake Off, we can't help but be inspired to pick up our mixing bowls, dig out our aprons, and set the oven to the perfect temperature to pre-heat. We've got the recipes, we've got the ingredients, we've even got Paul's sparkling blue eyes to motivate us… the only thing that's missing is the skill!

Let's face it, the creations concocted under the watchful gaze of Paul and Prue, Noel and Sandi, are way too advanced for us mere beginners who, for the other 40-something weeks of the year when GBBO isn't on, keep our hardly-used baking paraphernalia in a forgotten kitchen cupboard. However, this year, we are determined to finally peel the labels off our brand new equipment and give this baking thing a proper go and we'd love for you to join us!

Here are a few recipes from our fantastic friends at Bonne Maman to get started. There's even the added bonus of a few of the ingredients being forage-able at most of our locations this autumn…

Wild Strawberry Profiteroles

Makes 12

Ingredients

  • 250g tub mascarpone cheese
  • 175ml ready-made chilled Crème Anglaise or Vanilla Custard
  • 4 generous tbsp Bonne Maman Strawberry & Wild Strawberry Conserve
  • 200g mixed fresh summer fruits
  • icing sugar, to dust
  • For the choux pastry: 60g strong plain flour, 50g unsalted butter (diced), 2 large eggs.

Method

1. Heat the oven to 200C, fan oven 180C, gas mark 6. Line 1 or 2 baking sheets with baking parchment.

2. To make the pastry, sift the flour onto another sheet of parchment. Put the butter in a small saucepan with 150ml cold water. Heat gently until the butter has melted, then bring to the boil. When the liquid is bubbling furiously remove the pan from the heat and pour in all the flour off the paper. Beat with a wooden spoon until the flour has been blended into the liquid. Gradually beat in the eggs until the mixture is a thick, smooth and glossy paste.

3. Drop tablespoons of the choux paste onto the baking sheets, leaving about 2.5cm between them.

4. Bake the choux buns for 25 – 30 minutes or until golden and crisp. Turn of the oven, make a small slit in each bun and return to the oven for a further 2-3 minutes to dry out. Cool on a wire rack.

5. Meanwhile, put the mascarpone in a bowl and gradually beat in the custard until smooth.

6. When ready to serve, halve the profiteroles and put 1 tsp of conserve in the bottom of each one. Fill with the mascarpone custard and top with a mixture of fruits. Replace the tops and dust with icing sugar. Serve straight away.

Berry Crumble Cheesecake

Serves 8-10

Ingredients

  • 8 tbsp Bonne Maman Strawberry Conserve
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 150 g (5 oz) blackberries
  • 75 g (3 oz) butter
  • 100 g (4 oz) golden caster sugar
  • 40 g (1.5 oz) plain flour
  • 25 g (1 oz) crunchy baked granola-style cereal
  • 2 x 90 g packets Bonne Maman Traditional French Butter Biscuits, finely crushed
  • 150 g (5 oz) mild creamy goats' cheese
  • 450 g (1 lb) full-fat soft cheese
  • 4 large eggs
  • 75 ml (3 fl oz) soured cream (about 5 tablespoons)
  • Icing sugar, to dust

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan oven 160°C), gas mark 4. Line the base and sides of a deep, 20 cm (8 inch), loose-based, springform cake tin with greaseproof paper.

2. Put the conserve in a small saucepan with 50 ml (2 fl oz) of the orange juice and stir over a low heat. Bring to the boil and bubble gently for 5 minutes until reduced by about half. Add in the blackberries and leave to cool.

3. Rub 25 g (1 oz) of the butter and 25 g (1 oz) of the caster sugar into the flour. Stir in the granola cereal and spread out on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes until golden brown. Leave to cool, then break into rough crumbs with a fork.

4. Reduce the oven temperature to 170°C (fan oven 150°C), gas mark 3.

5. Melt the remaining butter in a small saucepan and stir in the crushed biscuits. Press the crumbs over the base of the lined tin and set aside.

6. Beat together the cheeses, eggs, orange zest and remaining sugar with the soured cream until smooth. Spoon onto the biscuit base and bake for 1.25 hours in the oven.

7. Open the oven door and pull the cheesecake out a little. Drizzle the blackberries and their liquid randomly over the surface and return to the oven for a further 1 - 1.25 hours until the cheesecake feels just firm when touched in the centre.

8. Sprinkle over the crumble mixture, leave to cool and dust with icing sugar before serving.

Marbled Fruity Meringues

Makes 8 large meringues

Ingredients

  • 240g white caster sugar
  • 120g 4 egg whites, at room temperature
  • 8 tbsp Bonne Maman Conserve

Method

1. Heat the oven to 200C, fan oven 180C, gas mark 6.

2. Spread the sugar over a baking sheet lined with baking parchment and put in the oven for 5-8 minutes or until the sugar just begins to melt around the edges, but not caramelise.

3. Meanwhile, put the egg whites into a large mixing bowl. Just before the sugar is ready, whisk the egg whites until frothy.

4. Take the warm sugar from the oven and immediately reduce the oven temperature to its lowest setting.

5. Continue whisking the egg whites, slowly adding the sugar until the mixture is very stiff, glossy and cool.

6. Line 2 baking sheets with baking parchment and spoon the meringue mixture into eight generous blobs, leaving space for them to expand in the oven.

7. Now, drizzle a spoonful of conserve over each meringue and swirl into the mixture using the point of the spoon.

8. Put the trays in the oven and leave for several hours or until crisp on the outside and ‘hollow’ when tapped on the bottom. It should take between 4 – 6 hours.

9. Now turn the oven off and leave the meringues in there to cool completely.

10. Serve with whipped cream and fresh fruits.

If you're on a Forest Holiday this autumn and would like to try any of these delicious treats, you should find all the bakeware you'll need in your cabin's fully-equipped kitchen – don't forget to check the drawer under the oven if you can't find something! If you'd like even more ideas for food you can forage, speak to your resident Forest Rangers and always remember to be 100% sure whatever you forage is safe to eat before adding it to your bake.

Don't forget to share your creations with us on our social media channels, or even a few baking tips of your own in the comments below! Check back soon for more recipes to try.