‘Throw the ingredients together with reckless abandon!’: Guardian readers on their tastiest foolproof bakes

We moved house when my son was 12 and a new friend arrived with this lovely cake – still warm – from his mum, who kindly shared the recipe. This is Cameron’s chocolate banana cake, which knocks all others into oblivion and deserves a wider audience. Melt 175g margarine with 225g sugar and stir in 275g self-raising flour, 10g cocoa and 1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda. Take off the heat and stir in 3 beaten eggs, 2 mashed bananas and a dash of vanilla essence. Let the mix cool while the oven warms. Next, stir in 70g chocolate chips and sprinkle 30g on top (dark or milk), then bake for about an hour at 150C (140C fan)/300F/gas 2 in a 20cm cake tin. Sometimes I add orange rind, too. This is a dream when it comes to freezing and is more luxurious than yet another banana loaf. Alison, retired, Glasgow

To make my no-knead bread, mix 500g flour, 400ml warm water, 1tsp salt and about a quarter of a 7g packet of yeast, then cover and leave overnight. The next day, set the oven to 200C (180C fan)/390F/gas 6 and heat a cast iron casserole dish. Scrape the dough on to floured baking paper, then flour the top. Bake in the hot casserole dish for 30 minutes, then remove the lid and cook for a further 10-15 minutes. Leave to cool before eating (if you can wait). The picture shows a loaf made with plain white flour, but it is also wonderful made with wholemeal flour – and you can add seeds, oat bran, olives and so on. Chris, interior designer, Peak District

This takes a while to make, but it is the best recipe. Start by mixing 1½ cups (375ml) warm water, 7g instant yeast and 1 tsp honey. Then add 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 3¾ cups (480g) plain flour and 1½ tsp salt. Knead, then let it sit for half an hour, then fold each side over on itself and repeat on all sides. Rest again for 30 minutes and repeat this process three more times. Stretch out the dough into a pan, then top it with your choice of herbs and let it rest again for 30 minutes. Then bake for 20-29 minutes at 180C (170C fan)/350F/gas 4 and enjoy! Myrah, student, India

My grandma’s “treble four, double two” cake is foolproof – she always uses this method. It is made from 4oz (113g) flour, 4oz caster sugar, 4oz butter, 2 eggs and 2 tsp (1 tsp baking powder and 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda) – hence the name. We sometimes also add a mix of hot water and cocoa powder to make it into a rich chocolate cake, or a handful of toasted coconut flakes. Without fail, this cake always rises, never sticks to the pan and tastes fantastic – especially filled with fresh cream and fruit. Sasha, civil servant, Salford

I was baking banana bread long before it became the No 1 bake in the first lockdown. My two not-so-secret ingredients are peanut butter (in the mixture, to give the bread some texture) and brown sugar (on the top, before you put it in the oven, to give it extra crunch). The peanut butter does mean it takes a bit longer to bake, but I love how you can throw the ingredients together with reckless abandon and it always works – and always rises. I enjoy baking this with my daughters, aged three and six. Sarah, stay-at-home mum, Bolton

My foolproof recipe is my gâteau fermière. Start by buttering a cake dish and slicing 3-4 apples. Mix flour, cornflour, sugar, baking powder and salt together, then add 3 eggs, melted butter and 3 tbsp milk to the dry mix. My special touch is to add mixed spices, vanilla from Mauritius (where my family is from), cinnamon and rum. I place half of the apple slices in the dish, then pour over the batter, before topping with the remaining apples. Finally, sprinkle with demerara sugar, ground almonds and more butter. This recipe is simple, unassuming and has no icing or mad decorations, but goes straight to your heart. Marie-Dominique, communications manager, Reading

When I was nine or 10, I baked a yoghurt cake with my mom from a recipe that we found on the back of a card from the supermarket. I will never forget it: 1 cup yoghurt, 3 cups sugar (using the yoghurt cup), 3 cups plain flour, 3 eggs, 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda and ½ cup melted butter. Mix together and place in a preheated oven until brown on top and a toothpick comes out clean. The first time we made this recipe, we used a strawberry yoghurt; I had never eaten a more delicious cake. It is a good and simple recipe for when I want something sweet and comforting. I have several variations, too – my all-time favourite involves putting Nutella on top before baking. Pedro, project coordinator, Portugal

When we lived in the Midlands, I picked up a book about Leicestershire food and drink from a charity shop. Then, when we moved to the country last year and had no internet for a fortnight, I entertained our five-year-old by turning to the only recipe in the book we had all the ingredients for: Bosworth jumbles. They are ridiculously simple to make: beat together 6oz (170g) butter and 6oz caster sugar, then add 1 egg and the zest of a lemon. Add 8oz flour, bit by bit. Whack the thick, lemony goo into a muffin tray and bake at 180C (170C fan)/350F/gas 4 for 20 minutes. You end up with lovely, little lemony cakes with a bit of crunch on top and a consistency that is halfway to shortbread. Sometimes we ice them, sometimes we don’t bother, but they never fail. If you haven’t got a lemon, you can use ½ tsp vanilla extract. Jo, charity development manager, Monmouth

I don’t even set the oven temperature for this recipe; it is so simple. If we have a bunch of leftover bread, I just open a can of condensed milk, mix with 2 eggs, a splash of vanilla extract and ½ tsp cinnamon, then slice or shred the bread into bite-size pieces and stir through until it is completely soaked. Then, add raisins or walnuts and bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until the crust becomes golden. Jocelyn, school administrator, the Philippines

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