There’s something about baking and nostalgia that go hand in hand. Many of us will have fond memories of getting creative in the kitchen – either during childhood or baking with our own children and grandchildren.

From licking the wooden spoon (and bowl!) clean, to weighing ingredients on traditional balance scales and dolloping buttercream on simple spongecakes.

However, baking has become increasingly diverse and complex over the years. And with more and more recipes available online and shows like The Great British Bake Off inspiring millions of people annually – it’s unsurprising that old-school classics grace our kitchens far less frequently.

But for many people, this can make revisiting nostalgic recipes and taking a trip down memory lane extra special. And because baking offers a sensory experience of different smells and tastes, it really can make you feel like you’re being transported back to a different time.

While everyone will have different ideas about what nostalgic baking recipes mean to them, we’ve pulled together a round-up of some popular gems. From butterfly cakes to bread knots, here are 10 beloved classics.

1. Butterfly cakes

Butterfly cakes

Butterfly cakes are treasured treats that have been passed down through families and communities for years. They’re often associated with childhood memories of baking with parents or grandparents, or occasions like birthday parties or school fairs.

Butterfly cakes are named for their distinctive shape, which resembles a butterfly with its wings spread wide open. They look almost too good to eat! But made with light, fluffy sponge cake, sweet buttercream, and strawberry jam, these charming cakes are also deliciously indulgent and easy to make.

Simply fill paper cases in a muffin tin with a basic sponge mixture, and bake for 15-20 minutes at 180C. Once cool, slice a circle out of the top of each cake and cut the piece in half. Then, fill the hole with a spoonful of luscious buttercream and a dollop of fruity jam, and place the wings on top. For extra flair, you can also add a dusting of icing sugar.

To make butterfly cakes, try this recipe from Delicious Magazine, or these easy vegan butterfly cakes from Vegan Recipe Bowl. If you want to try something a bit different, Mary Berry’s orange butterfly cakes are filled with orange curd and offer the perfect zesty twist.

2. Butterscotch tart

Butterscotch tart was a staple of primary school dinners and family gatherings in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s – and for good reason.

This memorable tart has an undeniably velvety decadence to it. A layer of thick, creamy butterscotch sauce is housed within a buttery shortcrust pastry base that, if done well, crumbles under your fork. And though it sounds extravagant, it’s surprisingly easy to prepare.

To make a butterscotch tart, roll out your pastry (made from scratch or bought readymade) to fit a pie dish of your choice. Cover it with a layer of baking paper and baking beans, and blind-bake it. In the meantime, make your butterscotch by melting butter in a pan, and adding sugar, milk, flour, and vanilla essence. Then pour it into your case and pop it in the fridge to set.

For some extra indulgence, you can top with chocolate sprinkles and serve with smooth custard or a cloud-like layer of fluffy whipped cream. Each bite will offer a wonderful variety of tastes and textures.

Check out the video from Sarah’s Cookery Tips below for more detailed guidance on baking a butterscotch tart – or for a written version, check out this recipe from Phoebe Bakes. Alternatively, for a vegan version, try this recipe from Baked By Clo.

3. Cheese scones

Cheese scones

Warm, savoury, and comforting, cheese scones have long been synonymous with afternoon teas and hearty home baking. They can be served at a picnic, as bread alongside a meal like soup or stew, or enjoyed as a tasty snack with a spread of butter, jam or chutney, and/or ham.

Cheese scones are an alluring blend of fluffy, crumbly pastry, and tangy, savoury cheese – and smell just as good as they taste.

To make cheese scones, all you have to do is mix together flour, baking powder, salt, and butter to create a breadcrumb-like consistency. Then, add grated cheese and gradually stir in milk until a dough is formed. Finally, roll the dough out, cut into rounds or triangles, and bake in the oven until golden brown.

If you don’t like cheddar or just fancy getting creative, you can swap for something like Stilton or Parmesan. You can also add more flavour to your scones by experimenting with different herbs and spices – such as thyme, rosemary, and chilli.

To make cheese scones, check out this classic recipe from BBC Good Food, or Waitrose’s recipe for herby cheese scones with Serrano ham. Meanwhile, vegans might want to try this recipe from Lettuce Veg Out.

4. Bread and butter pudding

Bread and butter pudding

This classic British dessert is made by layering buttered slices of bread with raisins or sultanas and a sweet custard mixture infused with vanilla and spices, such as nutmeg or cinnamon.

As the custard seeps into the bread it creates a soft, velvety texture, and once baked, a golden-brown crust forms on the top – adding a delicious crunch to each spoonful. It’s often paired with a drizzle of warm custard sauce to create an extra layer of creamy sweetness.

Perfect for a cosy night in, bread and butter pudding has been used as a way to use up old bread and avoid waste since Victorian times. It was particularly popular during World War I and II when resources were limited because it was cheap and filling to make – and it’s still a well-loved dessert today by many of us.

For a traditional take on bread and butter pudding, try this recipe from Sainsbury’s, or for a vegan bread and butter pudding with chocolate and dates, this BBC Good Food version looks delicious!

Other twists on this classic dessert include Delicious Magazine’s banoffee bread and butter pudding with toffee sauce, or Nigella Lawson’s ginger jam bread and butter pudding in the video below.

5. Jam and coconut sponge

Also reminiscent of childhood school dinners, jam and coconut sponge is a tender sponge cake that’s generously layered with sweet, fruity jam (usually strawberry or raspberry) and desiccated coconut.

The delicate crumb of the cake is perfectly complemented by the sticky texture of the jam, while the coconut topping adds a satisfying tropical crunch to every mouthful.

Making the sponge is quick and easy; simply combine sunflower spread, sugar, flour, and eggs and beat together until creamy. Then, bake until the top springs back after being lightly pressed. Allow to cool, and spread with a layer of jam and a sprinkling of desiccated coconut.

Jam and coconut sponge is usually cooked in a rectangular metal tray or cake tin and cut into hearty squares – and if you really want to eat it like it was traditionally once served at school, you can serve it with pink custard! Just use regular custard and add pink food colouring.

To make jam and coconut sponge with pink custard, why not try this recipe from Asda? Or, Traditional Plant-Based Cooking offers a vegan version.

6. Simple iced biscuits

Simple iced biscuits

From macarons to fortune cookies, there are plenty of challenging and inspiring biscuit recipes out there. But there’s something about going back to basics that’s particularly humbling and satisfying. So why not bake a batch of simple iced biscuits?

Plenty of us will have made simple cookie-cutter iced biscuits growing up for all kinds of occasions, including Christmas, birthdays, and school fairs – or just for fun. They’re tasty and cheerful, and offer a chance to get creative with different shapes and icing designs.

To make iced biscuits, you’ll need to make a dough using self-raising flour (or plain flour and baking powder), butter, caster sugar, and a beaten egg. To add some extra flavour, try adding sultanas and/or half a teaspoon of cinnamon or mixed spice. Then, roll out your dough thinly and use cookie cutters to achieve your chosen shapes. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 180C and leave to cool.

Next is the exciting bit of decorating your biscuits! You can decorate with icing sugar mix – just add a few drops of food colouring to achieve your chosen colour. The baking and confectionery sections of most big supermarkets are also treasure troves when it comes to choosing decorations – with everything from sprinkles and writing icing, to jelly sweets, M&Ms, and crushed-up flake.

To make iced biscuits, check out this recipe from The Happy Foodie. Or for a vegan version, try this version from Baked By Clo.

7. Pineapple upside-down cake

Pineapple upside-down cake

Pineapple upside-down cake is a real crowd-pleaser. A moist, golden brown cake base is topped with juicy, caramelised slices of pineapple.

This tropical dessert dates back to the early 20th century when canned pineapple became widely available. Its unique presentation has remained largely unchanged over the years, giving it a timeless quality that provides a sense of comfort and familiarity. And, today, pineapple upside-down cake remains a beloved dessert that’s popular at family gatherings, potlucks, and holiday celebrations.

It’s typically made by arranging slices of pineapple on the bottom of a baking dish and topping them with a buttery brown sugar mixture. The cake batter is then poured over the pineapple and baked until golden brown.

Once the cake is finished baking, it’s inverted onto a serving plate, revealing the caramelised pineapple slices on top. Some recipes also include maraschino cherries, which add an extra pop of colour and flavour.

To make a pineapple upside-down cake, check out this recipe from BBC Good Food or this vegan version from Vegan Recipe Club.

8. Chocolate concrete

Like several other recipes on this list, chocolate concrete is more than just a rich, chocolatey dessert; it’s a symbol of nostalgia for many people who have fond memories of eating it as part of a school dinner.

Though it resembles a cake, the ‘concrete’ name comes from the dessert’s hard and dense texture (more like a biscuit or cookie), which is achieved by mixing together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, and butter, and baking until firm and crispy.

Like jam and coconut sponge cake, chocolate concrete is usually baked in a rectangular metal tray or cake tin and cut into squares. It pairs wonderfully with a luscious dollop of custard, cream, or ice cream.

To make chocolate concrete, have a watch of the video below from Cypress Bayt. Or to keep things vegan, you could try this recipe from Traditional Plant-Based Cooking.

9. Toad in the hole

Toad in the hole

For as long as many of us can remember, toad in the hole has been associated with homecooked meals and family dinners.

Plump sausages are nestled within a luscious batter made of flour, eggs, and milk. The batter is poured over the sausages and then baked until golden brown, resulting in a dish that’s hearty, satisfying, and packed with flavour.

The origin of this traditional recipe isn’t entirely clear, but it’s believed to have originated in the early 18th century, as a way of making small amounts of meat go further.

Some also believe that the whimsical name ‘toad in the hole’ comes from the dish’s resemblance to a toad sticking its head out of a hole. While another theory suggests that the dish was originally made with actual toads, which were placed in a hole and covered with batter before being baked. However – thankfully – this theory is generally seen as a myth and there’s no evidence to support it.

To make this cheap and cheerful meal, you might want to check out this classic recipe from Jamie Oliver. Or, if you’re veggie why not try this squash and stilton alternative?

Other versions of this beloved family favourite meal that are worth a try include this Catherine wheel toad in the hole with honey and mustard from BBC Good Food and these mini toad in the holes from the Hairy Bikers.

10. Arctic roll

Arctic roll

A feature of many British dining tables in the 1970s and 80s, arctic roll is a retro favourite.

This classic frozen dessert consists of vanilla ice cream wrapped in a layer of sponge cake and raspberry sauce or jam. It typically has a cylindrical shape and is sliced into portions for serving.

The contrast of rich, creamy ice cream with light and fluffy sponge used in arctic roll creates a perfect balance of textures. And the raspberry sauce or jam provides an added burst of tangy and sweet flavour.

To make an arctic roll, simply spread raspberry jam on a thin sponge cake, roll it up with vanilla ice cream, and freeze it for a few hours until it sets. Then, slice into rounds and serve chilled for a refreshing treat.

Why not try this recipe from Baking Mad or this dairy-free arctic roll from Pure to keep things vegan? This chocolate, black cherry, and vanilla arctic roll is a must-try too.

Final thoughts…

The beauty of baking is that it can be as simple or complex as you like. And while there are plenty of technical baking skills you can learn if you want to challenge yourself, there are also lots of simple, comforting recipes that offer a delicious treat and a host of fond memories too.

From toad in the hole to butterscotch tart, we hope that some of these popular nostalgic baking recipes resonated with you.

For more baking inspiration, you might want to read our articles; 9 baking ideas with a healthy twist and 10 of the best bread recipes to bake at home.