Three simple bakes anyone can make: fudgy chocolate cake, cinnamon swirl traybake and some savoury scones

Gráinne O’Keefe: These recipes are perfect for sharing or making a batch for the freezer

The first thing I ever baked was an apple crumble, in home economics class when I was in school. I can still remember eating a piece of the raw cooking apple and the tartness of it. It was the first time I realised that it’s the process of preparation and the science of cooking that can turn a bitter, inedible apple into something sweet, jammy and bursting with flavour.

Baking is a science and requires patience, discipline and a steady hand. I studied pastry when I was in Dublin Institute of Technology (now TU Dublin), and then also did pastry in my first job and for the first few months of my second job. It was then that I realised that I didn’t want to continue working solely as a pastry chef, and that the hot kitchen was more my calling.

I think that every chef should learn the basics of pastry, and understand the science behind it, and then make a decision on which career path to choose.

This chocolate cake is one of my favourite recipes, and is very simple. It’s slightly fudgier than most chocolate cakes and the smoked almonds give it a salty kick to cut through the chocolate. If you are using regular almonds, sprinkle a little sea salt on top instead.


The trick with cakes is to wait until they are cooled completely to cut and decorate them; consider making the cake itself the day before.

Scones are the simplest of all recipes. I like to make them savoury, with bacon and brown butter spread, with the smoked cheese and jalapeños giving a nice kick. To make sweet scones instead, just take out the cheese, jalapeños and salt and add sugar.

The cinnamon swirl traybake is perfect for making to share and you can make a batch of dough and freeze it to have handy for a sweet breakfast treat. The cherries and crème de cassis give it a black forest-type flavour. It is a delight for people with a sweet tooth.