What we’re baking, why we’re baking it, and when – lifting the lid on a nation obsessed



We like to bake at least once a week, and favour cupcakes over crumbles - find out more interesting stats about Britain´s love affair with baking here...

This week is National Baking Week. A whole week dedicated to baking? Surely once upon a time we'd have cringed at the prospect.

But these days it's a pretty big gig. Why? Because in the past three years we have become a nation obsessed with baking.

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The Great British Bake-Off arrived on the scene in 2010, and since then we've been up to our elbows in eggs and flour.

A KitchenAid mixer in a pastel shade is now de rigueur, with sales of kitchen stand mixers up 65% since the return of the Cath Kidston-esque Bake-Off tent. Meanwhile shoppers are buying 23,000kg of flour, 360 litres of vanilla extract and 15,000 bottles of food colouring at Morrisons each week.

Inspired, we find excuses to bake whenever we can. Suddenly birthdays of random work colleagues become 'a big deal', while everything from the last day of term to failing a driving test has been shoehorned into an 'occasion'.

So with the Grand Final of the Bake-Off just one week away, we thought we'd celebrate National Baking Week by lifting the lid on this national obsession - what we're baking, when we're baking it and why… as revealed by research organisation Mintel.

When are we baking - we like it at least once a week… 

Home bakers like to do it regularly, according to Mintel. The figures show two-fifths bake at least once a week. Separate stats from National Baking Week also found around 42% of its Facebook fans bake once a week, with around one in four baking more than once a week.

This isn't surprising. Like going to the football or a book club, baking is something people do as a routine. We have a baking day, and spend all week planning what we're going to make. It's comforting, it's escapist and it's exactly the same as last week. Creatures of habit, this is what we love.

What are we baking - cakes and cupcakes

Cupcakes

We're baking everything from bread and brownies to batters and puddings. But perhaps unsurprisingly it's the classics - cake and cupcakes - we're most often found whipping up. The Bake-Off tent may be full of everything from filo to frangipane but we're baking for comfort, for enjoyment, to relax. And there's nothing relaxing about ruining an unknown - and probably expensive - bake as Paul Hollywood furrows his eyebrows witheringly in the back of your mind.

Some 62% of home bakers have baked cakes such as the classic Victoria sponge; while 58% have gone for small cakes such as cupcakes (the Hummingbird Café ones are simply sublime). Mintel researchers say we're gaga for baking cakes as they're easy to make and only require basic ingredients. But as well as being easy, they're pretty cheap to make.

Why are we baking - cause we enjoy it (and it saves us cash)

Happy Home Baking

Around three-quarters of people are baking because they enjoy it - and what's not to enjoy? Just you, Radio 2, a cup of tea, your KitchenAid mixer and Nigel Slater's coffee cake recipe. Baking time is your time; time to think, but also time to switch off.

Another reason for baking is to treat the family. Sure, it's far easier to nip to the supermarket and buy a ready-made job, but if you've ever baked a cake for the birthday of a loved-one you'll know there's no comparison - homemade smashes ready-made completely out of the park. And the fact you love someone enough to bake for them will warm the cockles of their heart.

Perhaps this is why more than half of us say treating family is their motivation for baking at home. Other reasons include an activity to do with children - three-year-olds up to their elbows in flour at the weekend, making fairy cakes, the kitchen a write-off of flour. But it's all worth it to see the smile on their faces as they spoon the mixture into little paper cups.

But as well as enjoyment, smug self-satisfaction and keeping the kids at bay, penny pinching is also a big factor. More than one in four people are baking to save money, with ingredients such as margarine, icing sugar and flour pretty cheap to buy.

Are you baking more at home since the Great British Bake-Off landed? If so which day do you call baking day, and are cakes your favourite thing to bake? Let us know in the comments below…