2014 Recap + favorites

Often I ring in the New Year with a celebratory beverage or breakfast recipe. Not this year. After the past few weeks of cooking and baking, I am taking it easy to start off 2015.

Most people do reflection posts at the end of the year, not on New Year’s Day. However, I couldn’t reflect while I was in the midst of marathon baking, and besides, I can’t plan that far in advance during the month of December. This means I have to reflect in January. It was on January 1 of last year that I asserted my resolution for 2014 – to make 50 different bread recipes during the year: 1 per week, with a few weeks off for good measure. I came up with guidelines and largely stuck with them. During the first half of the year, too, I had a good schedule; I posted a bread recipe every week, mostly on Wednesdays, and then posted something not-bread on the weekends. I loved having that schedule, and felt like I was making both good bread and good progress.

During mid-year, early in my pregnancy when I was very tired (2-3 hour naps on Saturdays and Sundays = very awesome, but not great for baking) and a little stressed out from the intensity and volume of work at work, I gave myself a little time off. I’m not disappointed that I did, but I did lose the rhythm that I’d developed. I wasn’t thrilled with my progress when autumn came around, but I wasn’t behind. But once Alex got this job in New Jersey and it was clear we would move, I had to cut back. How could I keep making bread when I knew I had to pack and move an entire house, train a replacement at work, find a doctor in NJ ASAP, and deal with all the other hassles that came with moving?

I’m still very proud of myself that I made my goal of 50 bread recipes, even if I had to make it up at the end. I made 12 of the breads in December – not bad, if I say so myself?

Did I get out of it what I wanted? Yes and no. I made lots of delicious recipes, and even taught myself a few new things. However, I was not always as mindful of what I was doing as I hoped to be. Sometimes I made recipes just to make things (which I hate doing), and sometimes my breads and posts were uninspired. Sometimes it was difficult to find bread that I was super-excited about each weekend.

As I looked through The Bread Baker’s Apprentice last weekend, it was clear that there were still more bread recipes that I wanted to make. So I’m not going to give up bread-making just yet. I expect to still make a few more things in January. But my primary goal for 2015 is to survive becoming a new parent with my sanity intact – and hopefully continue to post a few new recipes even after baby makes her appearance.

Last week I was asked if I had any favorite recipes that I’d made. I wasn’t sure at the time. Looking at the year in review, I’ve listed a few of my favorites below.

*****

Hands down, my favorite was the Lazy Pizza Dough from Smitten Kitchen. Since first making that dough in July, I made pizza at least half a dozen times before we moved in October, just because I didn’t feel like doing anything else for dinner. You should make this.

This morning, we started out the day right with the Maple Bacon Biscuits that I froze earlier this week. I highly recommend that recipe, as they were easy to make and were just about everything I could want in a biscuit.

Whole Wheat Cinnamon Swirl Bread is a loaf of bread that I sometimes forget about, but it’s really very good (and healthy, too). Other favorite loaves include Yeasted Banana Sandwich Bread and a new favorite, Multigrain Bread Extraordinare.

For rustic bread, the Pain a l’Ancienne was both easy and very delicious.

The Monkey Bread I made was still really pretty good. I also think that the Cinnamon Rolls I made recently will be amazing with the adjustments I added to the recipe (but haven’t had the time to try out). Also talking about cinnamon – Cinnamon Bread is still one of my old favorites, and is super-simple in that it is a quick bread and contains NO YEAST.

Chocolate Chip Cookie-filled Pretzels were probably the most different thing I tried this year. Croissants were the most difficult technique-wise. I’m very glad that I tried both!

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