Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

Bake Off star Peter Sawkins goes back to school for inspiration

© Susie LoweBake Off star Peter Sawkins with budding bakers
Bake Off star Peter Sawkins with budding bakers

For many chefs and bakers, inspiration for a new dish reveals itself after catching the scent of an unusual spice or tasting something new while travelling.

For Peter Sawkins, however, the spark for his new book was ignited a lot closer to home during a visit to a primary school.

While developing a fresh collection of recipes, the winner of The Great British Bake Off, who started baking seriously when he was just 12 years old, spent the afternoon with cake-mad Edinburgh school children – and left with an idea.

“I went down to my auntie’s primary school and I baked with her class,” explained Sawkins, 22, who became the youngest winner of the popular Channel 4 series in 2020.

“I brought down lots of kids’ baking books, I tried to see what they liked, what they didn’t like, asked about flavours and the things they love to do. They were amazing. They just gave me so much inspiration. I formed my book proposal heavily around what they told me.

“Obviously I looked into my own experience, thinking back to when I was super excited about baking as a kid but they were just invaluable in helping me frame the book and decide what I was going to write.”

Peter Sawkins as a boy learning baking skills with mum Morag

The cookbook, aptly named Peter’s Baking Party, is filled with sweet and savoury recipes that he hopes with inspire more children to get into baking from a young age, just as he did. Although that’s not to say the chapters are filled with only the basics, as he quickly discovered that most youngsters loved to be challenged.

Sawkins said: “Their imaginations are incredible. They’re not just interested in super-simple, basic stuff. They want to stretch themselves, challenge themselves, and really want to get stuck into baking and doing it really well.

“Baking, for me, was always just something that was pure fun. On our half day from school, we would go and play tennis and then we’d bake a cake after – that was the classic thing that we did on a Friday afternoon with mum. I didn’t even realise that I was, in a sense, training for being on Bake Off later in life. Plus, I was developing a lot of skills, developing a lot of knowledge, and developing how I could explore my own creativity, all without even realising it. That’s part of the reason why I wanted to put this book together.

“The goal is to inspire and excite kids to get in the kitchen because at the same time as doing this fun hobby, you develop so many skills, creativity, and even learn resilience when things don’t go wrong. There’s numeracy and literacy skills and independent kitchen skills. Yes, baking can be just fun and silly but it can also teach us so much. That was my experience when I look back as a kid, and now, hopefully, I’ll be able to share that with some new people.”

With the book dedicated jointly to his teacher auntie Rachel and mum Morag, Sawkins has of course shared some family favourite recipes. Found in the No Bake section – which sits alongside recipes for everything from afternoon tea and puddings to biscuits and cakes – his mum’s malteser squares, he said, taste of nostalgia.

“Every time I eat them, it just brings me back to being a kid,” explained Sawkins, who is in the final year of a degree in accounting and finance at Edinburgh University.

“It’s a classic traybake that mum would do for a church coffee morning or if it was our birthday at school and we could bring in a cake for the class. Me and my brother would always try to scran the whole tray before she could take them away. I have very fond memories of that recipe.”

Sawkins’ earnest passion for baking made him a fans’ favourite during the 11th series of Bake Off, which was filmed in a “self-contained biosphere” due to Covid-19 restrictions. One of the most popular years in the show’s history to date, 7.9 million people tuned in to watch the first episode alone. Contestants had to contend with becoming overnight celebrities, their every whisk and knead pored over on social media.

It was, Sawkins admitted, something of a shock not just to win but also to return to real life and 250,000 Instagram followers – not least because only a handful of people knew he had made it on to the show.

He said: “No one’s ever prepared for it, you know? Only six or seven people knew that I was on the show and even then two of my flatmates that I was living with didn’t know. One morning my face is on BBC News as they walked in to have breakfast.

“That happened with every single friend – and then it started happening with people that I had never met. Online, people start following you because they’re really interested in the show and want to see what you’re doing but it’s something completely foreign. I don’t think anyone could necessarily be prepared for it. Social media has been one of the things that, for me, has been bit of a challenge since being on the show.

“I’m not naturally…I don’t necessarily always love what social media is all about. I’m being very sort of blunt and honest saying that when maybe I shouldn’t be.

“I’m incredibly lucky to have that platform, but a lot of the time, I find it quite stressful knowing that there’s all these people following along with what you do.”

However, since his debut book, Peter Bakes, was published a year ago, he has tried to focus on the positive side of social media, like being able to connect with fans who send him pictures of cakes, cookies, pies and buns all made with his recipes.

He said: “When people share bakes from the book that puts a genuine smile on my face. To know that people are connecting with it, spending a really fun afternoon, and then sharing bakes with their loved ones because of the work that I’ve put together, that’s super special. So, yeah, to have social media there and be able to see that from real people is a big blessing.”

I’m still a diehard Bake Off fan but now I can understand forgetting to put the flour in

The Bake Off team: Paul Hollywood, Noel Fielding Matt Lucas, Prue Leith (Pic: BBC / Mark Bourdillon)

With the new series of Bake Off now in full swing, Peter Sawkins has been tuning in each week to see how the batch of 12 contestants are faring under the scrutiny of judges Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith. Before his own time on the show he was a self-confessed superfan and, luckily, his love of the big white tent has not waned.

“I was a bit apprehensive to see the show because you have this really special experience and you wonder if it’s going to feel weird seeing everyone else in the tent,” he said. “But I just started watching as a fan again.

“I enjoy it even more now because I have more respect for what everyone is going through. I know the application process. I know how much work it is week to week.

“I understand why they perhaps forgot to put the flour in or why they didn’t take something out of the freezer in time. When you’re there, when the cameras turn on and you’re trying to chat people through what you’re doing, and you’ve got (presenters) Matt and Noel coming up and spending a very fun time with you, you’re having to flip your focus. Then you remember that you’re on TV!”

He added with a laugh: “When you’ve gone through that, you can sympathise and understand why these things happen, while most people at home will pull their hair out and say, ‘How can you be so foolish?’

“I’m really glad I don’t watch it and get, you know, PTSD or feelings of stress. I’m really glad I’m still just a true fan of Bake Off.”

Recipe: Rainbow swirls

Peter Sawkins (Pic: Susie Lowe)

Rainbowy, swirly and biscuity, these cookies are simple in flavour but striking in design. The rainbow swirls look complicated but they’re actually quite simple to make.

Make sure you chill the cookies well before baking and slicing to make it easier to get clean cuts.

Time required: 40 minutes prep, 20 minutes chilling, 10 minutes baking

You’ll need:

  • 200g (7oz) butter, softened
  • 125g (4½oz) caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 350g (12½oz) plain flour
  • Red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple gel food colours
  • 1 egg white
  • 50g (1¾oz) rainbow sprinkles


1. Preheat the oven to 160˚C fan (350˚F/gas 4). Line two baking trays with baking paper.

2. Cream the butter and sugar with an electric whisk until light and fluffy.

3. Stir through the remaining ingredients – except the colours, egg white and sprinkles – until the mixture begins to form clumps. Use your hands to press and gently knead the mixture into a ball of dough.

4. Split the dough into two portions. Roll one piece of dough out between two sheets of baking paper in a rough rectangle about 26cm x 22cm (10in x 8½in).

5. Split the second portion of dough into six pieces. Add one colour of gel food colouring to each piece and work through with your hands over a sheet of baking paper to have a rainbow of doughs. Wash your hands quickly after using the colours so you don’t have stained rainbow hands for days!

6. Roll each portion of dough into a log a couple of centimetres shorter than the length of the plain dough rectangle.

7. Remove the top layer of baking paper from the plain dough and lay the rainbow logs over the dough. Flatten them slightly with your hands.

8. Place a sheet of baking paper over the dough and roll out until the coloured dough reaches the edges of the plain dough.

9. Remove the top layer of paper from the dough. Roll the dough into a tight spiral from one of the long sides. If the dough gets stuck to the paper, place it in the fridge for 3–5 minutes before trying again.

10. Brush the outside of the log with a light layer of egg white and roll it in the rainbow sprinkles. Wrap in baking paper and leave it in the fridge for at least 20 minutes to firm up.

11. Cut ½cm-¾cm (¼in-⅓in) slices from the dough. Place on baking trays with a bit of space in between them and bake for 10–12 minutes or until they are browning a little on the top edges. Allow to cool completely on the baking trays. They will firm up as they cool.

Make this gluten-free:

Replace the plain flour with gluten-free plain flour and ½ teaspoon xanthan gum. Ensure the sprinkles you use are gluten-free.

Peter’s Baking Party: Fun And Tasty Recipes For Future Baking Stars, is published on Thursday