Hummingbird High’s 2020 Review
Okay, wow, what a year. Am I right? I think I probably speak for a lot of people when I say that, well, this year didn’t exactly go as expected. While it does make me sad to think about our cancelled plans—like our wedding and honeymoon, as well as trips to New York and Japan to see family—I am very grateful that almost all my family and friends stayed safe and healthy.
And even despite the setbacks, I was very lucky to able to continue baking and blogging for Hummingbird High. One of the few pure, unadulterated joys from this year was watching you guys bake and share my recipes. Thank you for supporting my work the way you do—it is such an immense privilege to be apart of your life this way.
Now let’s look at everything we baked together, shall we?
Readers’ Favorite Recipes of 2020
The following recipes are YOUR favorites from the year—that is, the most viewed recipes of mine from 2020.
Man, remember when, at the start of quarantine, we all went a little stir crazy and decided to curb our boredom by whipping coffee at home a la dalgona coffee? I’m not gonna lie—I still drink dalgona coffee on the reg. And if I’m being honest, discovering dalgona coffee was one of the best things I did in 2020. Maybe that’s a testament to how weird this year was, lol.
Another thing I did this year was explore the classic recipes on the back of ingredient packages and put my own spin on them. Like the Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe! While it’s hard to mess with a classic, I found that a few easy tricks—like toasting the nuts and chopping the chocolate for the cookies, and melting the butter and baking at a lower temperature—resulted in much better cookies.
These flourless chocolate cookies were another recipe borne out of quarantine. Because again—remember when flour was impossible to find on grocery store shelves? Folks quickly scrambled to bake flourless recipes like these chocolate cookies. But in addition to being flourless (and gluten free, as a result!), these chocolate cookies were actually delicious.
Your Favorites on Instagram
First of all, thank you so much for you support for @hummingbirdhigh on Instagram! According to this app I found, I published somewhere around 135 posts in 2020, which garnered nearly 400,000 likes from y’all:
I know it seems a little eyeroll-y to keep track of a seemingly superficial metric like likes and comments on social media. But for content creators like me, they matter immensely. Despite Instagram’s ever waning relevance, the majority of my income still comes from it. How? Brands will sponsor me to create an Instagram post highlighting their products. And often times, my negotiating power is dependent on metrics like the likes and comments from y’all. So every time you like and comment one of my pictures on Instagram, you are helping keep this blog financially sustainable. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU.
But on to the fun stuff! Although there’s a ton of overlap between your favorite recipes on my website and my Instagram account, it’s worth calling out a handful of recipes that were more popular on Instagram:
I actually first published these brown butter toffee chocolate chip cookies back in 2018! They were my take on a popular recipe by Bon Appetit magazine… or so I thought. Because after Bon Appetit imploded in July, several food writers shared their stories of mistreatment by the renowned food publication. One of the stories I heard was from Kate Davis, the food blogger behind Rage Bake. She’d submitted her cookie recipe to Bon Appetit, who subsequently published it with little to no credit for her. I wanted to help rectify that situation and decided to rewrite my version of her recipe with proper credit.
Another theme I focused on this year? Small batch baking. Quarantine and social distancing meant that many of us were unable to share our baked goods like we usually did. So I scaled down some of my most popular recipes—like Levain Bakery’s Blueberry Muffins, or Better-Than-Supernatural Fudge Brownies—to produce smaller batches more appropriate for small households. One of my favorite small batch bakes? This funfetti sheet cake, which I made for my 33rd birthday. Hooray!
I first published this Vietnamese iced coffee cake more than three years ago. But still—it remains one of my most popular recipes to date. Every year, I see so many of you making the recipe for celebrations, special occasions, and more. I love seeing your unique spins on it! And to make everybody’s life easier, I decided to give the recipe a MAJOR update this year. It now includes an FAQ guide full of answers to your most commonly asked troubleshooting questions. I’ve also included a step-by-step video tutorial on how to get the cake’s signature iced coffee swirls.
My Favorite Recipes of 2020
Now that I’ve summarized y’alls favorites from the year, let’s talk about ME (lollll 😜). The following recipes are MY favorites from the year.
I have made a version of ube crinkle cookies every year since 2017, ever since my friend Autumn from Brooklyn Kolache shared her bakery recipe with me. This year, I finally was comfortable enough to share the one I developed! It was even featured in The Kitchn’s Quarantine Cookies series!
My friend Sarah wrote a stunning cookbook with the most creative cookie and bar recipes. To wit: these Neapolitan sugar cookies, which are flavored with chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla (just like the ice cream). Although this isn’t technically my recipe, I’m including it on this list because I think it was one of the funnest and most unique recipe I made this year!
I mentioned earlier that I spent a lot of time this year developing some of my most popular recipes into small batch servings. My favorite small batch adaptation was this small batch blueberry muffin recipe. They are based off my copycat Levain Bakery blueberry muffins recipe, and are known for their signature sky-high, domed muffin top with sugar.
My Favorite Updated Recipes of 2020
This year, I made a conscious effort to go through the Hummingbird High archives and update old favorites of mine. I really enjoyed the process! As a food blogger, it can be easy to get caught up in the grind of constantly pushing out new recipes, content, and ideas. Doing so makes me forget that my blog is actually already full of delicious recipes to choose from.
I’ve been picking out my favorites and updating their blog posts to make them more functional for you guys. These are my favorites from the favorites I updated this year:
I first made this Kentucky Bourbon Butter Cake recipe in 2012—can you believe it? It’s such a wonderful recipe that I’ve legit made it every year since then. I updated the recipe this year to include a ton of tips on how to bake with a bundt pan (since one of the biggest challenges for beginner bakers is how to get a bundt cake out of its pan), as well as a step-by-step video tutorial on how to make the cake itself. Unfortunately, some rotten person decided to leave a nasty comment on Christmas Eve telling me that I was talking too much during the post. RUDE—honestly. But hey, she liked the cake!
Similarly, I first made these Supernatural Brownies in 2013. Since then, it’s become my default fudge brownie recipe. I love it so much that I even used it as the foundation to develop the brownies in my cookbook (aptly titled “Better-Than-Supernatural Fudge Brownies”, lol).
Okay, these s’mores chocolate chip cookies are a more recent favorite. I developed the recipe last year, when I was in the throes of writing my cookbook! I updated the post this year to include a step-by-step video tutorial. Gotta love that gooey marshmallow shot.
Other 2020 Highlights
Because of the strange nature of this year, I initially struggled to come up with the highlights of this year—especially considering that past year’s highlights have included travel, moving between cities, and more. Although 2020 doesn’t seem as vibrant and notable when compared to other years, there were some major moves worth highlighting:
Okay, this one shouldn’t really count because we technically got engaged at the end of 2019. Our subsequent wedding was planned for this August. Unfortunately, we ended up postponing it indefinitely due to the pandemic.
Since postponing our wedding, I’ve had a few folks ask me why we didn’t move forward with it anyway. After all, our plans even pre-pandemic, were modest: a city hall wedding, dinner with our parents, and then a separate happy hour at a rooftop bar with only about 10 or so of our closest friends. Had we decided to move forward, our wedding would have been allowed under Oregon’s COVID guidelines with no modifications.
But I’m just going to quote this article (that’s totally worth reading, by the way) about weddings during the pandemic: “We only decided to have a wedding because we wanted to see our friends and family in one place. If the point of a wedding is to celebrate community, why risk killing someone off? Canceling caused a pang, but only for a moment. The choice was too obvious to cause us much grief.”
When I bought my first house in 2013, I really thought it was going to be my forever home. It was in one of my favorite neighborhoods in Portland. Its modest size and stature meant that I was comfortable remodeling it accordingly to make it my own.
Then came 2020. The combined stresses from the pandemic and climate change made me realize that we’d outgrown the house that I loved so much. After weeks of agonizing, pros and cons lists, and frantic phone calls to architects and contractors, we decided to move. And it was kismet! A house that fit most of our needs appeared on the market soon after our decision (only three blocks away from my old place, lol), and, well, here we are!
I’m planning on sharing more of the new place in 2021, so hang tight! In the mean time, you can admire its pretty kitchen in this Instagram post of me doing a terrible cartwheel.
After George Floyd’s death in May, I was inspired to use my Instagram to highlight nonprofits and social justice organizations committed to fighting racial and systemic inequality to uplift the Black Lives Matter movement. I featured four nonprofits, each committed to a different cause, and matched your donations for 24 hours for up to $100. There were four organizations in total:
- Campaign Zero, which focuses on reforming police with data-driven campaigns and policies aimed at reducing police violence
- The Loveland Foundation, which provides mental health resources for black women and girls
- SAAFON, which helps black farmers and black family-owned farms to develop organic and ecologically sustainable farming practices.
- Woke Vote, which mobilizes historically disengaged voters of color through social media outreach, impactful campus and faith-based outreach, social impact demonstrations, and more
Together, we raised almost $6,000 for all four nonprofits! Pretty cool, right? You can learn more in my blog post summarizing the different causes. Next year, I really hope to use my platform to support and uplift the causes I believe in.
Previous Hummingbird High Year-In-Reviews
Okay, that’s all for now, folks! I’ll see y’all in January, when I’m planning to share a lot of alternative baking recipes. Think: vegan recipes, gluten-free recipes, and mayyyybeeee even egg-free recipes (but we’ll see).
In the meantime, if you’re curious about other popular recipes and highlights from previous years, check out the year-in-review archives:
Have a wonderful New Year!