Jam sponge and cheesy flatbread: Ravneet Gill’s recipes for young bakers

Here are two wonderfully reliable, easy and absolutely delicious recipes that are suitable for young bakers and adults alike. The great thing is that they can both be made with just a bowl and a wooden spoon, so there’s no fancy equipment needed, either. (Of course, if you have a shiny machine, by all means do use it.) The sponge is a throwback to the best part of early 1990s school dinners, while the flatbreads come from my time working in restaurants and getting creative on the breakfast section.

Vanilla sponge, jam and coconut
Who remembers that classic school dinner sponge that, if you’re anything like me, you would eat over anything else on offer? My brother remembers it fondly and, during lockdown, asked me to make it for him. I always think simple things done beautifully are the way forward, and this sponge emulates just that. The trick is to beat the butter and sugar for ages, because it really does lead to a softer sponge overall. Top with the best-quality jam you can get – and it’s totally fine to use an alternative to raspberry jam, if you prefer. It’s all about having fun really, isn’t it?

Prep 25 min
Cook 40 min
Serves 8

250g unsalted butter, softened
2 tsp vanilla extract
250g caster sugar
5 eggs
250g self-raising flour
190g raspberry jam
20g desiccated coconut

Heat the oven to 180C (160C fan)/350F/gas 4 and grease and line a 18cm x 28cm x 5cm deep baking tin with baking paper.

Beat the butter, vanilla and sugar by hand or in a stand mixer until pale and fluffy, then add the eggs one at a time, beating in each one until fully combined.

Stir a pinch of salt through the self-raising flour, then add to the butter mix and stir really well until there are no lumps. Spoon the mixture into the lined tin, smooth out the top using a palette knife, then bake for 38-40 minutes, until golden brown, springy to the touch and a knife comes out clean after being inserted into the centre. Leave the cake to cool fully in the tin.

Remove the cake from the tin and put on a large tray or plate. Spoon over the jam in an even layer, scatter with the coconut, then cut and serve. If you’re feeling extra-nostalgic, serve with Bird’s custard or Ambrosia.

Potato and cheese flatbreads

Drawing from the parathas of my upbringing led me to these, and you can, of course, add a kick of spice and switch the herbs around to suit your palate. I recommend enjoying these warm with a brush of butter over the top and a bowl of yoghurt to dip. Once made, the dough keeps really well in the fridge for two days.

Prep 30 min
Rest 1 hr
Cook 30 min
Makes 4 medium breads

1 small potato, boiled, peeled and cooled completely (140g net weight)
200g plain flour
1 tbsp chopped coriander
1 tbsp chopped parsley
½ tsp baking powder
Black pepper
½ tsp fine salt
30g mature cheddar, grated
1 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1 medium egg
2 tbsp neutral oil

Grate the cooled potato using the large side of a grater. In a large bowl, combine the flour, chopped herbs, baking powder, pepper and fine salt. Stir through the grated cheese and grated potato, then add the butter and egg. Mix to create a dough, then knead gently until everything is evenly distributed.

Put the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with a tea towel and chill in the fridge for an hour.

Divide the dough into four, then either dust a work surface with flour and roll into roughly 20cm circles or, if you find that difficult or it’s particularly hot in your kitchen, roll out the dough between two pieces of greaseproof paper.

Heat a skillet or heavy-based frying pan over a medium-low heat. Lightly oil the pan, then lay in a flatbread and leave it to cook for four to five minutes (don’t be tempted to turn up the heat, because you need the middle to cook without the outside burning). Gently press the flatbread down with the back of a spatula, then flip and cook on the other side for a further three to four minutes. Transfer to a warm plate or low oven, repeat with the remaining dough and serve warm.