Nation turns to home-baking during lockdown as cheese scones top recipe list with 3,009% increase

Press release
Cheese scones
Published : 28 Apr 2020 Last update : 29 Apr 2020

The nation has turned to baking to cope with the lockdown with cheese scones, apple and rhubarb crumble and sponge cake topping the list of favourites, according to the National Trust.

Recipe downloads on the charity’s website show that since the country was locked down in mid-March, visits to home bake pages have increased by almost 900% compared with the same time last year.

Cheese scones are top of the list with more than 54,000 people visiting the page in the first four weeks of lockdown – an increase of 3,009% on last year. Coming in at second place is apple and rhubarb crumble with nearly 15,000 visits (an increase of 581%) and the popular National Trust fruit scone is in third place at almost 10,000 visits (an increase of 737%). It appears more ‘complicated’ recipes have languished at the bottom of the pile, with treats like salted caramel mousse seeing a fall in visits.

Matt Drew, the Trust’s Head of Food and Beverage, said: “The lockdown seems to be rekindling our love of baking as more comforting, nostalgic recipes come out on top, with crumbles and sponges taking the place of what some may see as lighter or more contemporary bakes like lemon drizzle and chocolate orange bread twists.

“Even though the Trust has closed its places to help stop the spread of coronavirus, we’ve been encouraging our supporters to enjoy the huge amounts of inspiring content we have on our websites, including our recipes – and it seems to be paying off.

“I’ve always believed food is at the heart of relationships and family life, and this huge increase in recipe searches reflects that. With children at home and trips out of the house for essentials only, home baking is a brilliant way of not only keeping us fed, but also having fun and creating joyful memories at a challenging time.

“While we know some ingredients are tricky to get hold of at the moment, like flour and eggs, it’s great to see so many people enjoying their time at home with some traditional baking, and what better thing can there be than the smell of freshly baked cake or scones wafting through your house.”

There has also been some interesting regional variations. While many places across the UK saw similar recipes hitting the top spots, exceptions in regional top five lists included:

  • Eastern England: chocolate hazlenut torte cake in Cambridgeshire, and chicken, leek and tarragon pie in Southend-on-Sea.
  • London: potato and onion soup in Barnet, Westminster and Redbridge, apple cinnamon bun in Islington, chocolate nests in Enfield, and vegetable and coconut curry in Sutton.
  • South and South East: chocolate nests in Surrey, tea-soaked fruit cake in the Isle of Wight and Thurrock, and pork, and apple sausage rolls in Bracknell Forest.
  • Midlands: salmon mousse, chocolate nests and raspberry and white chocolate sponge in Rutland, and mushroom and thyme rolls in Solihull.
  • North: peanut butter brownies in York, tea-soaked fruit cake in Hartlepool, and pork and apple sausage rolls and potato and onion soup in Knowsley.
  • South West: raspberry and white chocolate sponge and peanut butter brownies in South Gloucestershire.
  • Wales: pork and apple sausage rolls in Denbighshire, salmon mousse in Torfaen, and tea-soaked fruit cake in Swansea, Rhondda and Neath, Port Talbot.
  • Northern Ireland: cheese scones were knocked off the top spot in favour of carrot cake across many areas, and other recipes featuring in top fives included pork and apple sausage rolls, chocolate nests, peanut butter brownies, and butternut squash, red pepper and chilli soup.
  • Scotland: most unusual mix of recipes, including butternut squash, red pepper and chilli soup, parsnip and apple soup, Autumn vegetarian cobbler, Argyll parsnip and apple soup and crab apple leather.

Figures revealing what people nationally are looking for on internet search engines show that recipes have increased by almost a third compared to last year, with cheese scones taking the country by storm with a 174% increase in recipe searches.

Among those cooking National Trust recipes, alongside other activities during lockdown, is 45-year-old supporter Deborah from the North East, who said: “My husband's becoming a master baker; tea loaf, lemon drizzle cake, cheese scones, all delicious.

“We've been taking walks around our local area, looking at the plants changing as we move through spring, and if we've been out early enough, we count the deer we see and try to spot as many different birds as we can including pheasants, woodpeckers and jays.”

To sample a taste of the National Trust at home during lockdown visit