Anyone else still struggling to keep up with what day it is? Only just got my head around the fact that it’s Friday today and the first week of January is almost behind us – how’d that happen?
I previously rounded up my favourite moments (and outfits) from the year past, and earlier this week spoke about what I’m looking forward to in the year ahead and my blogging journey overall. But one thing I didn’t include in my yearly round up or future plans was news on my Baking Club, which was actually a pretty big part of 2016’s achievements.
After thinking about it for far longer than necessary, I finally took the plunge and set up an online baking club last February with the rough idea that I’d make some new friends, have people to bake along with and create a little community of cake lovers to share the sweet stuff with. I wasn’t sure whether it would take off or whether I’d have to admit defeat a few months later, but slowly but surely more people joined in, the baked creations got better and better and by the close of the year there was 76 of us (and I promise only two of those 76 are related to me lol).
I realise this is by no means ‘taking over the world’ territory but all the same, this little side project is one I’m really proud of. And I think it’s because there’s no aim to it other than to have fun and get to know new people. It’s not related to my blog work (other than the fact I post the recipes on here) or my freelance career in any way, I have no long term monetary gain planned and there’s no pressure to take it anywhere other than where it naturally goes. It’s a passion project if you will, and I think it’s very important to have a few of those in life.
Having said that, I did have a few plans for the club that didn’t quite come to fruition last year and I really want to push myself a little to make them happen soon. For example, I really wanted to organise an event on behalf of the club last year – a kind of cake and community get together that could bring our virtual club into the real world, spread the word, encourage new members and generally be a fun real life meet up for us digital creatives. I also wanted to roll the club out to different areas and communities and allow people to host their own baking meet ups each month. I’d hoped to start doing live bake-alongs which we could broadcast on social and lastly I wanted to be better at updating our Instagram channel and use this to share all of the great recipes the club created.
I guess life just got in the way and being a one man band always puts slight limitations on my overly ambitious plans. But hey, like I said there’s no pressure to make it all happen overnight and hopefully I can achieve some of those things this year instead. In terms of immediate goals, I’d love to reach 100 members before our year anniversary (which only gives us a few weeks but you never know!), I’d like to send out a more regular newsletter with baking ideas, make it easier for people to sign up and get involved straight away and generally up the presence of the club on social media.
I’m also hoping that if I need to step away in a couple of months to have a baby, I can hand over to the group to create the themes and keep baking!
Anyway as a way of marking a whole new year of baking with friends, and welcome any new 2017 members (sign up here!) it seems only right to round up some of my favourite bakes from the last 11 months and say a very big thank you to everyone who got involved and donned a pinny for any of the months. If you scroll to the very bottom you’ll find our brand new theme for January and our first for 2017 so no better time to get involved and start baking!
February – Love
Seeing as we started in February, Valentines was just around the corner and all things heart shaped seemed like a nice gentle introduction.
March – Baking with Vegetables
This was definitely one of my favourite months and really challenged us all to think outside the box. We had so many inventive creations that you’d never know included the humble vegetable in.
April – Travel Delicacies
April saw my first true baking fail when I attempted french macarons and they went horribly wrong BUT the rest of the gang worked wonders with their traditional bakes from across the land!
May – Spring has Sprung
With the first signs of spring emerging, we took inspiration from the season and baked everything from raspberry and almond cakes to lemon drizzles and mojito cupcakes.
June – Free From
In June I let the club choose the theme and with a few different allergies abound, we took on the challenge of free from baking. Another favourite, I was truly impressed with how many different (and delicious) bakes were created which avoided many of the nations biggest intolerances.
July – Family Favourites
Nearly every baker I know has a favourite family recipe and that was the rough idea behind June’s theme. I loved hearing everyone’s memories and nostalgic moments almost as much as I enjoyed seeing their sweet creations.
August – Inspired By
Half way through the year we decided to revisit some of the best recipes from the club and try our hand at someone else’s recipe. It proved how every baker can have a different take on the same cakes.
September – Showstoppers
With GBBO in full swing, we upped the ante in September and challenged ourselves to create a true showstopper. I pretty much spent the whole month open mouthed in awe at what the team were coming up with!
October – Autumn Favourites
As one of my favourite seasons rolled around, the urge to get everyone baking some cosy home comforts was to much to resist!
November – Celebration Cakes
November was about all things celebration, and we tried our hands at birthday cakes and anniversary cupcakes amongst other things.
December – All Things Festive
For the final month of the year, it was all about Christmas and those traditional festive bakes. Normally I do the round up post at the start of the new month so I’ve included as many of the amazing bakes as I can above including Jennie’s reindeer no bake cheesecake, Sharon’s five different mince pie recipes, Angela’s cute fondant mini christmas cakes, and Betty’s christmas pud energy balls.
So onto a new year and a whole new set of baking challenges in front of us. I admit I was bit stumped with what to do for this first month but I know that overall, January is a bit of a month of renewal and fresh starts for everyone. And after a December of indulgence and multiple boxes of Quality Street, opting for something which would involve even more of that in January might not suit everyone.
So I thought instead we’d challenge ourselves to create a healthy and nutritious snack that still tastes great. If you’re already back in the gym, maybe you fancy making some energy balls to see you through? Or if health is at the forefront of your new years resolutions then maybe you want to try your hand at a quick and easy recipe that will stave off the chocolate cravings when they no doubt come a calling?
So it’s healthy bakes all the way this month! This is definitely a new area for me as a true sweet tooth so I’m looking forward to getting some inspiration from you all – Good Luck!