It’s like Hogmanay creeps up on me every year. I’m all happy and content after a filling and fulfilling Christmas and then it is like ‘oh! I need to plan how to see in the New Year! Er, glass of prosecco anyone?’
It’s true that my friends and I are pretty useless when it comes to firming up NYE plans and as I type this, I am simultaneously trying to think of ways to see in 2014. Dinner? Drinks? Pub? Outlandishly expensive dinner dance? Not quite.
While I am completely unable to plan where I will be when the clock strikes midnight, I can ensure that I start my Hogmanay with a bang with my most popular posts from the past year. I have to say, some entries were a surprise and others were a given (everyone loves chocolate cake it seems) but I have only included recipes that were posted this year. And thankfully, although healthy, my Spinach and Cucumber Smoothie has *finally* been overtaken as my most popular post. I do love it, but quite frankly this is a baking blog and your favourite recipe has to include butter and sugar in there somewhere right?
So without further ado, I bring you Victoria Sponge Pease Pudding’s Top Ten Recipes in 2013.
10. Pink Peppercorn, White Chocolate and Rose Shortbread
One of the first recipes to be posted in 2013, this perfect pile of shortbread came in at number ten on the most popular list. Probably for its unusual kick of pink pepper, the flavour combination and crumbly texture also made it a nice alternative to the tartan tin variety.
9. Vanilla Berry Triple Layer Cake
The first of many cakes to make the list, this pillow soft sponge filled with vanilla frosting and bursting blue and purple berries was the boy’s birthday cake this year. He may have been miffed that it wasn’t the Ultimate Chocolate Cake from the previous year, but there was plenty of the sweet stuff still to come in 2013.
8. Death by Chocolate Cake
What did I tell you? Perhaps the most indulgent chocolate cake ever created, the fudgy, almost torte-like texture and bitter chocolate ganache may have been a little heavy going for some, but my colleagues managed to demolish it in record time. This cake was also the test recipe for the next cake on the list.
7. Love and Death by Chocolate: The Two Tier Challenge
A true labour of love, Love and Death by Chocolate was made for my parent’s 25th wedding anniversary and consisted of two types of chocolate sponge, one of vanilla, two types of ganache and a lot of silver sprayed chocolate shards. My first foray into just about everything technical about tiered cakes and chocolate work, it was a real challenge to overcome but also incredibly rewarding.
6. Apricot and Lemon Frangipane Tart
This recipe kickstarted my love of having a backup sandwich bag of frangipane in the freezer in case of a cake emergency and I am very grateful for it. Full of fresh summer flavour and bursting with fruit, this is a delicious dessert that can be whipped together fairly simply for a BBQ or picnic.
5. Blueberry Lime Polenta Cake
I have to admit I was nervous to step into the world of gluten free baking and rightly so – the first time I tested this recipe it broke into a million pieces as I removed it from the tin *sob*. Luckily, I learned that gluten free recipes are less hardier than those containing flour, so this polenta cake also taught me to be patient when trying new things. No bad thing.
4. Cherry Blueberry Frangipane Tart with Almond Buttercream
Oh my goodness I really did love this recipe. It makes me long for the cherry season just so I can bake this beauty again. Using the leftover frangipane from the Apricot and Lemon Tart, it was also studded with almond buttercream, curling stalks of cherries and full of bursting blueberries. A real winner of 2013.
3. Cherry Tomato, Rocket and Pesto Pizza
This recipe was a real game changer for me and after I made it I don’t think I ordered or bought a pre-prepared pizza for months. The no-knead dough is super simple even for a bread baking phobe like me (planning to tackle this in 2014) and with homemade pesto spread on top, you know exactly what is in every bite.
2. Courgette, Lemon and Poppyseed Cake
This recipe is actually viewed almost every day and was one that was in my repertoire long before I ever got around to blogging it. If you are a bit wary of baking with vegetables, I promise this cake will change your mind – the inside might scream Incredible Hulk but really, it’s just Incredible.
1. Raspberry and White Chocolate Cookies
I’ve been blown away by the response for this recipe and to be honest, I hadn’t realised there wasn’t many variations on the internet when I whipped up a batch of this cookie dough to recreate my memories of teenage shopping trips with my Mam and sister. It’s also the most popular recipe *ever* on my blog and I am so grateful to everyone who reads the words and tries their hand at making the next best thing to a bag of warm cookies from Millies.
…And Three of My Personal Favourites from 2013
Peach, Pistachio and Ricotta Torte
Recreated from my memories of a beautiful torte I consumed in Berlin in 2011, this post rekindled my love for travel writing and conjured up some wonderful memories of an unforgettable trip. A cross between a cheesecake and a tart, this dessert looks stunning and would be perfect served up during Easter.
Brown Sugar Chai Spiced Marshmallows
A real lightbulb moment when it came to candy making, I’ve made countless batches of marshmallows ever since this inaugural recipe and I’ve been adapting and trying new techniques since it was first posted back in November. I’ve had such lovely compliments and one of my favourite memories of the year is toasting a batch over an open fire this Christmas. Magical.
Salted Caramel, Golden Pecan and Chocolate Celebration Cake
Oh my word. This was quite a challenge in that everything that could have gone wrong did and yet I managed to turn out one of my favourite projects of the year for my sister’s 21st birthday. It was so ridiculously indulgent yet surprisingly, very little was left the next day for consumption. I wonder why…
So what new culinary delights will 2014 bring? I’ve already started brainstorming ideas and hope to bring some healthy and delicious recipes at the start of the New Year to offset all those mince pies. I’ve also started a 23 before 24 list of challenges, goals and activities to do before my birthday in July, many of which unsurprisingly feature some foodie treats. So Happy Hogmanay and I will see you in the New Year!
Happy New Year! Hope to hear about some of your challenges next year!