The 2019 Baking Roundup

If I had to summarize my 2019 in baking, I’d go with “Impulse Ingredients.”

I threw practicality to the wind last year and made tons of impulse ingredient buys. Think raspberry powder, peanut butter cups, toffee chips, rye flour. All things I wanted to try baking with… but not exactly pantry staples.

Which means I spent a lot of time researching recipes with very specific ingredients. made multiple rounds of rye chocolate chip cookies, tried toffee in all kinds of things and went nuts with Nutter Butters.

In between experiments, I also made time for some classics. I used my trusty caramel chocolate chip cookies for a thank you gift. Cinnamon chocolate chip bread helped sweeten a Monday morning. And I made my annual batch of pumpkin gooey butter cake, which is one of my all-time favorite recipes on this site.

2019 baking.png

Overall stats
In all, I baked 38 recipes last year. 84% were new-to-me for 2019. My baking always skews to easy-to-transport treats, so it isn’t shocking that cookies dominated my recipe list. Still, I was surprised to see brownies so low on the list. Don’t worry though: I’ve already made one batch of brownies in 2020 and need to use up baking bars soooo there’s many more brownies in my immediate future.

Where it went
38 recipes may not sound like much over the course of a year. But unlike cooking a meal, my baking isn’t necessarily for survival or particularly “useful” for everyday life.  In fact, I only categorized one recipe as a “meal” in all of 2019. (It was blueberry banana pancakes. I stink at making pancakes. Please send help.)

So that means that most my baking was for pure, unadulterated fun. And within that context, 38 recipes can feel much more meaningful.

I brought 50% of the baked goods to work and 32% to other people’s events. I didn’t host any events in 2019, which is super unusual for me. Let’s say I’ll throw some parties in 2020 and bake up a storm to prepare.

Flavor list

Top flavors
53% of the recipes I made last year had some kind of chocolate in them. But when it came to dominant flavors, fruit won out. I think my favorite fruit-centric recipe was apple pie-stuffed snickerdoodles.

Pumpkin popped up for 4 recipes, but one of those was my biggest fail of 2019. Yes… even worse than the pancakes! I tried to make this pumpkin spice rugelach and it did NOT go well.

2019 on Sugarsmith 
I posted 7 times in 2019, way down from previous years. I wrote more about my lack of personal writing on my other annual report, so won’t get into the details here.

The top 3 new posts for 2019 were the apple pie cookies, lemon raspberry snickerdoodles, and vegan chocolate chip cookies. Older posts that performed really well were my beloved pumpkin gooey butter cake and this lemon cucumber cake.

Best new-to-me dishes in 2019
I’m always on the hunt for fresh food finds. This year’s top picks:

  • The Grilled Artichoke at Momed in Los Angeles
  • Truffle Fettuccine at Trattoria Gabriello in Florence
  • Lamb Hummus at Shalom Y’all in Portland
  • Strawberry Balsamic Hard Shell Soft Serve at Wiz Bang in Portland
  • The Mac and Cheese at the Cheese School of San Francisco
  • Spice Drinking Chocolate at Christopher Elbow in San Francisco
  • The hazelnut/peanut butter dessert course at Mini Bar in Porto

Here’s some of my favorite food pics from 2019. And keep your eyes on this space—my first 2020 recipe post is coming soon!

The 2018 Baking Roundup

Listen, I know it’s kind of late for a 2018 roundup. But let’s pretend that I picked this timing on purpose, ok? Let’s just say that I was intentionally giving you a break from all those other year-in-review pieces, and wanted to spread mine out a bit.

Playing along? Awesome. Thanks for that.

I’ve been writing personal annual reports for a while now and started doing baking roundups a few years ago. It’s fun to see my baking trends, and set baking goals for the following year. So let’s dig in, shall we?

What I made in 2018

I baked 34 times last year, and 76% of that was new recipes. As always, cookies, bars and brownies dominated my list. That’s pretty typical for me, because those kinds of things are much easier to carry around on public transit than a tray of warm cinnamon rolls or a towering layer cake. I really do love making layer cakes, and always declare that I’m going to make more the next year… but logistics tend to get in my way. Maybe this is the year!

New baking pic.png

I baked a pretty good mix of flavors last year. Chocolate tends to dominate every year, whether that’s brownies or chocolate chip cookies or M&M bars. In 2018, 50% of the things I baked last year included some kind of chocolate. But it wasn’t always the main flavor, and I tried lots of other things, too. I made 3 types of banana bread, 7 other recipes that included a different kind of fruit and 2 recipes that starred peanut butter.

The most intriguing recipe I made last year was these pea and vanilla cupcakes. They didn’t really taste like peas—you could tell there was something distinct going on in there, but I don’t think anyone would have guessed it was peas unless I told them. My absolute favorite thing I made last year (and didn’t blog about!) was this pistachio cake from Molly Yeh. It was perfectly nutty, perfectly fluffy and topped with this lovely, tart pomegranate frosting. I actually changed my mind at 9 PM the night before a party and switched from a different pistachio cake recipe to this one. It was definitely the right choice.

Who ate it?

hosted 3 events in 2018, accounting for 10 recipes. I took another 8 recipes to other people’s events, from birthdays to holiday potlucks to tea parties. The remaining 16 recipes went to work, where I leave things in the kitchen and beg people to eat them. They tend to happily oblige.

What did people read?

I published 12 new posts in 2018. That’s down from last year, but it correlates to a specific goal to spend less time on my computer than I used to. So, I can feel pretty good about 12 posts. I try to post a mix of things, from simple cookie recipes to complicated cakes. I think my absolute favorite recipe I posted in 2018 was these pumpkin cupcakes. It’s really just a standout recipe: Great texture, great flavor and lightyears ahead of lots of other pumpkin cakes out there.

Top New Posts on Sugarsmith for 2018

My Personal Favorites for 2018

Top Posts from Previous Years 

Looking ahead

I’ve baked a few times so far in 2019, and plan to rack up a few more recipes in the next couple weeks. My resolutions for 2019 are to bake more things with yeast, make more muffins and try to use all the random ingredients I’ve accumulated in my kitchen. Stay tuned to find out if I make it happen 🙂

 

 

The 2017 Baking Roundup

Every January I write an annual report. I look at what I did, where I went and what I wrote. It’s a nice way to remember the good from the year before, and helps me look at how little moments in time add up.

I carried this tradition over to Sugarsmith a couple of years ago–because baking deserves reflection, too. I keep a detailed list of everything I bake, so it’s pretty easy to figure out patterns from the entire year. Here’s a look at my 2017 in baking:

What I made

I baked 54 times last year, including 51 new recipes (94%). That’s lower than 2016 when I baked 68 times, but still higher than 2015, so I feel good about it!baking report

Flavors

I covered a nice mix of flavors in 2017. 54% of recipes contained chocolate, but chocolate wasn’t always the dominant flavor. When I took a closer look I found that fruity recipes led the pack, from Lemon Cookies to Lemon Cucumber Cake. I also made a lot of herb-y recipes, like Lavender Cookies and Strawberry Basil Cupcakes. I made way fewer pumpkin recipes than originally planned for the fall, but managed to get three in there! And clearly I didn’t make enough s’mores treats in 2017…though the one I DID make was pretty killer.

Who ate it?

I hosted 6 events in 2017, accounting for 20 recipes (58%). Another 14 recipes went to other people’s birthdays, housewarmings, etc. And the remaining 37% of my baked goods went with me to work. You’re welcome, coworkers!

What did people read?

I published 27 posts to Sugarsmith in 2017. I feel pretty good about that given that I split my time between blogs and also write for work. Of course, I have tons of unfinished drafts just waiting for me to finish them. I also don’t write about every single thing I bake. And I rarely post in chronological order. So even if you eat a lot of my treats…you can never really know what I’ll post next!

Top Posts on Sugarsmith for 2017

Clearly you guys like gooey butter cake and salty/sweet combos. Noted for 2018!

Favorites That Didn’t Crack the Top 5

Best *New* Things I ate in 2017

As always, thanks for reading–I’ll be back with new recipes soon!

 

 

 

The 2016 Baking Roundup

2017 is fresh out the gates! But before we kick off a new year of Sugarsmith, let’s take a look at what happened in 2016. Every year I write an “annual report” to sum up key facts and stats. I started doing the same thing for Sugarsmith last year–except here, it’s all about baking. Since I keep a super detailed log of everything I bake, it’s pretty simple to pull the numbers.

In 2016, I baked 68 times, including 60 new recipes. When I looked back at my 2015 report, I was sort of shocked that I only baked 39 times in 2015. That’s a 74% increase year-over-year! I wondered when all this baking happened, so I took a closer look at the dates in my baking log. Sometimes I bake in spurts: for example, I made 7 recipes for my birthday. But usually, I make one recipe at a time. How did that add up to 68?

Well, up until August I made 33 recipes. From August-December, I made an additional 35. That means I seriously picked up the pace in those final 4 months. And it makes total sense: I switched jobs in August and stopped traveling for work. Of course! If I’m home more, I bake more.

baking-chart

My baking always skews to cookies and bars, because they’re easiest to transport and easiest to share. Every year I declare I’m going to make more breakfast and more cakes–but then it just doesn’t happen. Let’s hope for a step-change this year, at least.

flavs.png

I was surprised that my cakes trended toward non-chocolate flavors. But then I remembered those amazing strawberry cupcakes, and the stellar buttermilk cupcakes I still haven’t shared with you (sorry!). I’ll never say no to chocolate in a cake… but I definitely don’t need it, either.

Top Posts on Sugarsmith for 2016 

My Personal 2016 Favorites

2016 Fun Facts 

  • Baking-related events I hosted: 3
  • Times my log mentions bringing baked goods to a social event I was NOT hosting: 17
  • Bags of chocolate chips currently in my cupboard: 10 (whoops)
  • Recipes made where I stuffed one thing into another thing: 10 
  • Baking fails recorded in my log: 6 (that’s 9% of the recipes I made!)
  • Favorite bloggers I got to interview: 1 (Molly Yeh, and it was awesome)

2017 Baking Resolutions 

  • Master my newly acquired springform pan (thanks, Jen!)
  • Play with matcha as an ingredient
  • Stop pantry loading specialty ingredients before I really need them (Only because I lack an actual pantry. If you have one, I strongly encourage pantry loading.)

Thanks for a wonderful year, dear readers!

pickmonkeekekeke

The 2015 Baking Roundup

Happy New Year, dear readers! I’m so glad I decided to start this blog last year. I used to post baking-related topics over on my other blog, but it’s been really nice to have a separate space dedicated to one of my favorite hobbies. Creating a second blog has let share more of my baking love with you, and I look forward to another year of yummy recipes, bakery reviews and musings about the state of food today.

2015 ended with lots of baked goods, which means I have many new recipes coming your way soon. But before I get to those, I’d like to do a year-end roundup of sorts. You see, on my other blog, I do an “annual report” that charts out how I spent my time the previous year. It’s become a tradition for me, and I’d like to start something similar here. Of course, the Sugarsmith annual report will be decidedly sweeter and tastier than most annual reports you’ll find. I’m also working on some “Baking Resolutions” that I’ll post soon.

Let’s take a look at last year’s “data,” shall we?

Baking SS

I made so many cookies this year! 2014 also skewed cookies but bars were pretty close. I’m aiming to round this out a bit more in the coming year with a little more baked good diversity. The ratio of new to old recipes doesn’t shock me in the least because I love trying out new recipes. I do have some perennial favorites, like the Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars. And the Apple Crisp I posted is a family tradition. I actually love the idea of “go to” recipes for holidays and family gatherings… I just find myself itching to try something new whenever I get the time to bake.

Flavors SS

This breakdown doesn’t surprise me at all, but I do want to switch it up  in 2016 and make more savory baked goods. I end up making more dessert than anything else because it’s easy to bring places and share. Still, I am sure my friends and coworkers would also be happy to nibble on savory bites from time to time.

Top Posts on Sugarsmith for 2015 

Favorite New Recipes I Baked in 2015 That Aren’t on the Blog 

2015 Fun Facts

  • Number of bakery visits recorded in my personal journal: 22
  • Photos of me eating ice cream tagged on Facebook: 3
  • Baking-related events I hosted: 3 
  • Recipes on my “to bake” list at the end of 2015: 359!!!
  • Times I described a recipe as “delicious blobs” in my baking journal: (it was a pretzel recipe and while the pretzels didn’t form right, they sure were delicious blobs!)
  • Recipes I made that involved a sea salt sprinkling on top: 9 (no wonder I am feeling sea salt sprinkle fatigue!)