With the various baking shows on TV (do we really need to mention The Great British Bake Off?) and huge numbers of books on different types of baking being published every year, it is fair to say that baking has become pretty popular! So we’ve looked into the tastiest parts of internet and come back with a few great blogs to share and got some great tips from gluten-free blogger Anyonita and Aoife McElwain from Forkful.tv. OM NOM NOM!

Anyonita Nibbles - Gluten Free Pistachios & Rose Baklava

Anyonita, who has Coeliac Disease, writes Anyonita Nibbles, a mostly gluten-free food blog specialising in tasty treats and decadent desserts. She says there has never been a better time to take up baking as a creative hobby: “All over the country, artisan and craft bakeries have taken over markets and food festivals, offering up tempting wares. TV is saturated with programmes inspiring all of us to head to the kitchen and get baking!

If you're considering taking up gluten-free baking this year, here are four important things to consider:

  1. Gluten-free baking isn't always as straightforward as traditional baking. You'll battle with sticky dough and need to incorporate stablilisers like agar agar or xanthan gum to give your gluten-free dough elasticity.
  2. Often your gluten-free bakes will look like they're going horribly wrong before they come together. Especially when working with gluten-free dough! Just soldier on and remember gluten is what keeps a loaf together; working without it is going to look and feel different.
  3. The recipe I've found the easiest to adapt to a gluten-free diet is choux pastry, which is used to make eclairs and profiteroles. To make gluten-free choux pastry, swap the traditional flour with a blend of white rice flour and tapioca flour and add a pinch of xanthan gum.
  4. Don't forget about all those lovely treats you can bake that are naturally free of gluten! Try your hand at macarons, meringues and crème brûlées to start with, then build up to the trickier, modified desserts.”

Anyonita Nibbles - Gluten Free Red Velvet Eclairs
Anyonita Nibbles - Gluten Free Red Velvet Eclairs

These days recipes aren't just text on a page of a book or a website accompanied by a couple of photos - they're multimedia! If you want the full immersive experience of beautifully created online videos and great recipes and tips, then Forkful.tv might well be the place for you. Aoife McElwain is the tastebuds behind the website and has been baking, cooking and blogging for a number of years as well as doing restaurant reviews.

"I had always had an interest in eating, but less of an interest in cooking. I used to get panicky in the kitchen, wondering how on earth I'd be able to feed anyone, or myself, and despair at my lack of lifeskills. Through my music blogger boyfriend (now husband) Nialler9, I discovered a whole heap of Irish food blogs."

"So I started my personal food blog I Can Has Cook?. Within a year of blogging, I got offered a few food writing jobs, such as reviewing restaurants for Totally Dublin magazine and The Irish Times, and recipe columns for The Irish Independent newspaper. I bade farewell to my early food blog in 2014 to focus on my more recent food web project, forkful, a video and photography recipe site that I work with Dublin photographer and videographer Mark Duggan.

Forkful.tv - Beetroot brownies
Forkful.tv - Beetroot brownies

Aoife advises budding bloggers to focus on what they love and keep your honesty and personality at the forefront. "I think the reason I did manage to forge a career of sorts thanks to my blog is because I blogged about something I really cared about, something that I was having fun learning about and that enthusiasm must have translated to my words. Try to approach blogging as a personal project, a way for you to improve a skill; whether it's your writing or your cooking. If you're good at it, your readers will find you.

Always remember, you are not on the Great British Bake Off. The biggest breakthrough I ever had in cooking was the moment I finally realised that I wasn't on Masterchef. If you're cooking and baking at home, it doesn't need to be perfect. Who are you baking for? Your friends and family, right? Unless you're related to Paul Hollywood, you really shouldn't have to be worried about being judged. Once I realised that, I settled in beautifully to a life as a sloppy, lop-sided but very happy baker.

I believe cooking for yourself is an empowering form of self-care. When I have bad days, my temptation is to stay under the duvet, eating bowls of Coco Pops. Sometimes I indulge that, and pick myself up the next day, but when I'm able to get the energy together to slice a few onions, a bit of garlic, some chorizo and cook up a tomato pasta sauce, it always makes me feel better.

Honey Roasted Hazelnut Coffee Cake video and recipe on Forkful.tv

If you're feeling inspired, look up recipes to try on Anyonita’s blog or Forkful.tv! A few other suggestions:

The Little Loaf, a blog focused on baking with some great bread recipes, shares their top 10 recipes of 2015 with the caramel hazelnut cheesecake being the absolute showstopper! Ginger and Bread serves, among others, German-inspired food. Their recipes provide not only background story but also warns of any potential difficulties so that you are always one step ahead! Just look at this filling and yummy pumpernickel – German rye bread – and you’ll instantly feel the warm inspiration coming in.

However when you’re just starting, the key is to start easy! BBC Good Food collated a helpful list of basic level recipes which will get you comfortably settled in the world of baking and ready for slightly more complex undertakings such as these buckwheat and maple syrup madeleines served up by London Bakes, another inspired blog with gluten-free recipes.

And when you get tired of the internet, go offline and whet your appetite with the best food books of 2015 (according to The Guardian anyway), including the breath of fresh air that Olia Hercules’ Mamushka is, bringing the richness and colours of Eastern European cuisine to the readers.

We’d love to hear about your baking beginnings! Tweet us @LoveToHQ using #lovetoBAKE or share on Facebook using @LoveTo / #lovetoBAKE and inspire others!

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