When you’re wrapped up warm indoors over winter, away from the wind and rain, and fancy an indulgent home baked treat it might be hard to think of what cakes lend themselves to winter baking. After all, winter isn’t really the time for mounds of fresh berries and cream like when you’re enjoying summer cakes, and much of the seasonal bounty of plums, blackberries and raspberries that we enjoy in our autumn cakes might be over. Instead we tend to turn to warming spices like cinnamon and ginger, juicy preserved fruit, tempting chocolate and exotic citrus fruits like clementines and blood oranges, which are at their best in the UK over the winter months.
We've gathered together some of our favourite and easiest cake recipes that are well-suited to baking in the colder months.
This traditional Welsh loaf, which translates as ‘speckled loaf’ in English, can be enjoyed any time of year, but it’s especially good over winter and early spring thanks to its juicy sultanas which are readily available when fresh local fruit is in short supply. This recipe from Y Becws Mefus bakery in Anglesey makes three small loaves you can freeze some for later or gift them to neighours who might need some cheering up this winter.
Recipe: bara brith
Hot chocolate cake
This hot chocolate cake, topped with whipped double cream and marshmallows like its beverage counterpart, makes a sweet and lavish treat. There’s an added boost of winter warmth through its winter spices, and you can even add a small amount of cayenne pepper to give it an extra kick reminiscent of traditional Mexican hot chocolate.
Recipe: hot chocolate cake
Bramley apple cake with a honey and whisky drizzle
We might think of apple cakes as being more of an autumnal cake, but there are still plenty of apples around in the winter months, especially Bramley apples which have a long season from September to May. This cake with a honey and whisky drizzle seems appropriate for a winter bake because whisky is well-known for its warming properties, making it ideal if you're looking for something to tuck into with a cup of tea when you come in from the cold.
Recipe: Bramley apple cake with honey and whisky drizzle
Carrot cake is so versatile and suited to any time of year, with British grown carrots available almost 12 months of the year, making them an economical and environmentally sustainable vegetable. When there’s a bit of a shortage of locally-grown fruit in winter a carrot cake makes perfect sense, especially as it is so often paired with winter spices like cinnamon.
Recipe: carrot cake
Jamaica ginger cake with rum butter
Jamaica cake is a sticky ginger sponge made with golden syrup, brown sugar and spices. It’s another ideal store cupboard cake as the only fresh ingredients it needs are the egg, milk and butter. Here it’s served with a boozy rum butter that is more traditionally eaten at Christmas but which can be enjoyed all winter by either using as an icing or spread onto slices like butter and enjoyed as a tea loaf.
Recipe: Jamaica ginger cake with rum butter
Parsnip and orange spiced cake
Great British Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain created this tasty winter cake filled with the spicy warmth of parsnips and zesty oranges, which are at their best and cheapest over winter when UK oranges are supplied by southern Europe instead of South Africa. Parsnips might seem a strange choice for a cake but as a close relative of the carrot they bring the same moist sweetness as their more colourful cousin, and over winter they’re extremely cheap to buy.
Recipe: Parsnip and orange spiced cake
Blood orange and pistachio cakes
These little colourful Persia-inspired cakes might seem exotic as a recommendation for winter baking, but blood oranges are at their absolute best in the UK from December to May, depending on the variety. If the long, dark nights are getting you a bit down these charming cakes from London’s Middle Eastern restaurant Honey & Co are sure to bring a little sunshine.
Recipe: blood orange and pistachio cakes
Gluten-free Earl Grey fruit loaf
There might be a bit of an overabundance of fruit cake at Christmas, but this fruit loaf has an added flavor dimension with the Earl Grey tea. You can mix and match the fruit as you see fit – apricots, dates and sultanas all work well. This cake also makes a good picnic snack if you enjoy taking winter walks with a thermos.
Recipe: gluten free Earl Grey loaf
Beetroot and vanilla cupcakes
These colourful little cupcakes are a good way to sneak healthy beetroot into your diet. They use vacuum packed pre-cooked beetroot, making them a great store cupboard bake over when you’re avoiding the shops.
Recipe: beetroot and vanilla cupcakes
Clementines epitomise Christmas but there’s no reason not to enjoy them over the whole winter period. Clementines are in season in the UK from November to February so make the most of these little gem-like fruit while they’re at their best.
Recipe: clementine cake
Looking for more baking inspiration? Visit our baking recipes section or try one of these Christmas baking ideas.