Hello everyone! Even though the year isn’t up yet, I thought I’d share some thoughts on baking now that I’m one year into this hobby.
In case you’re newer than one year here on the blog, I started baking from scratch last year around November after watching The Great British Baking Show on Netflix. I became obsessed, which is not an uncommon effect from the show. Since then I’ve really experimented with tons of new (to me) recipes, especially in the quarantine. So much so that I’ve started doing monthly posts on the bakes I’ve made! You can view them in the Food & Drink section of my blog.
Also, as you can see, I’m doing Blogmas again this year! That means I’ll be blogging every day until Christmas. I’ve done Blogmas in 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019 so I am happy to be participating again in 2020.
One Year into my Baking Journey
So, I figured I’d start with some general thoughts and sort of do a little reflection on what baking has contributed to my life.
As I mentioned, the GBBS really inspired me to get baking! I knew my skills were not up to tackling their bakes from the show, but I looked up a few basic recipes and really enjoyed the process. I’ll admit, at first I was so worried I’d just waste ingredients. In fact, one of my early gripes on baking was that it was an expensive hobby with all the ingredients, pans, and extra stuff you needed for specific bakes. But now, I’m so used to having to replenish stuff like crazy so I barely notice or worry. Plus, someone always eats the bake in the end! Now, I let myself substitute ingredients more frequently, but I haven’t dived into trying to make a new recipe yet. Maybe in year two!
Back to the expensiveness of the hobby though. I remember last year I mentioned quite a few times what an expense it was because I had to stock up the pantry from nothing. No one else in the house bakes, so things like baking powder or brown sugar were not available at all in the house. We also didn’t really have flour I don’t think! We had eggs, but no butter, and regular sugar was available but our spices were limited to cinnamon and cooking spices, not stuff for baking like nutmeg or pumpkin spice!
Due to that, I remember my first shop to prepare for my Thanksgiving and Christmas bakes was well over $50. Sure, it’s not a lot I guess, but it seemed like a lot for just a few things! However, flour can last a long time as can sugar and a few other staples so replenishing stuff as it ran out wasn’t so bad later on. Plus, my mom already had some baking pans that I was able to use so that also helped, otherwise the shop could probably have almost doubled if I was to have to get a whole new set of pans.
Even with the basics down, it’s still expensive though. Every so often I’ll still need a spice I don’t already have or some specialty item. Or I’ll need to go buy lemon just for the zest or something. Since I’m unemployed, those costs can seem like a lot when you’re trying not to spend so you can have a good amount saved for later. Still, in the quarantine I was happy to pay it because baking was really fun, and still is, so it’s served as a good distraction and stress reliever.
I do still have issues with the waste or cost though from time to time. There are so many recipes I’ve skipped on making because of the ingredients. For example, vanilla bean is crazy expensive where I am so I skip recipes that call for it or use vanilla extract instead because of how much it is. Things that call for lemon or cream cheese I don’t mind because I know we’ll use the the leftover amounts but when I got pumpkin filling I ended up having to throw away a good amount and that felt terrible! I didn’t have enough for another recipe and I didn’t want to get more and potentially cause more waste. I am more likely to get stuff that is non-perishable though like the aforementioned pumpkin spice but the perishables are harder. I try my best to look at recipes closely and try to make sure stuff doesn’t get wasted and I will keep doing that.
As for accidentally wasting stuff because the bake doesn’t turn out, well, that’s a different story! There have been times when I’ve considered trashing stuff because the mix looks gross but I’ve carried on. Once I was about to throw out a whole batch of cookies because I took one bite and hated the taste. But my mom and dad tried the cookies and they LOVED them. It was a shock to me but such a relief I hadn’t wasted it because I’d used almond flour which is so pricey! That’s the good thing about having people with different preferences in the house. If someone doesn’t like it, chances are someone else will so nothing goes to waste.
Oh! That’s another thing. Trying to bake “healthy” is a whole other game. The ingredients are much, much more expensive so trying to bake healthy requires a whole new set of stuff to buy. I do like the taste of the healthier stuff but I don’t make it as often because it’s so much more money or I can’t find some ingredients as easily. Over time, I’ve learned where to get stuff but sometimes you can’t find everything you need in one aisle or even at one store. Luckily, you can still use regular stuff with healthy recipes so I’ll follow it and just use a regular egg or regular butter if needed, but things like almond flour can be pricey.
Real quick, I wanted to add that I still stand by my tips from my Tips From an Amateur Baker post. I wrote that for last year’s Blogmas and it still stands! I will say I laughed when I said I won’t be baking for awhile so I didn’t need a stand mixer. I ended up baking nearly every week once quarantine began. But I still agree that a stand mixer is not at all a MUST and a hand mixer is perfect.
Other than that, baking is still fun! I really enjoy trying out new things, making stuff for the season, and always making something different. The M&M cookies are still the favorites from everyone I’ve baked for but I also really loved those camo brownies I made way back in the beginning of the Q and the almond flour scones. I was the only one who liked the scones though. Anyway, if you could please leave me your favorite thing to bake in the comments because I really need some new ideas!
Thanks for reading!
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