We looked back over a year of statistics to map out a 12-month food calendar through the eyes (and tastes) of the 20 million people who visit our website each month...
As each year draws to a close, with it comes the opportunity to look back over how the tastes of a nation evolved. Using our website statistics, we can keep see which recipes, guides, videos and features are most popular, and while some are popular all year round (our guides on steak, brainfood and leftovers, for instance), we see seasonal spikes in other content, too.
To celebrate the end of 2015, we’ve compiled 12 months of standout stats, highlighting popular content, new entries and runaway recipes. We also referred to our new weekly What We’re Eating food diary to highlight some of the most exciting new ingredients and dishes we tried for the first time this year
As a new year begins, we can guarantee our healthy content will peak in popularity, and January 2015 saw one guide spring to the top of our most-visited list – What is the 5:2 diet? On the other end of the spectrum, we tried an anti-gravity cake for the first time. These cartoonish bakes involve ‘suspending’ an object above a cake, mimicking the effect of something cascading onto it. The impressive finish is actually achieved using one very everyday item. Our recipe shows you how...
Shrove Tuesday landed early this year, and 1.7million of you came online to sift through our multifarious pancake recipes. Our most popular non-recipe page was 10 sweet and savoury pancake fillings, so it seems the lemon and sugar brigade were in need of some inspiration. Our roving team also discovered another on-trend bake – monkey bread, a sticky, American pastry made up of lots of little balls of dough arranged in a ring shape. Once tried, never forgotten.
We celebrated St Patrick’s Day by trying a whole new way with Guinness – cocktails. The delicious Irish brew is adaptable enough to be blended with spirits, coffee and fizz – we even mulled Guinness, just for the craic of it. We also saw hot cross buns hit new levels of popularity in the run up to Easter. Our classic recipe received hundreds of thousands of hits in March alone.
Our voyage into the land of undiscovered bakes continued apace in April – we tried quinoa cake for the first time. Served at a Peruvian restaurant in London, the South American grain can be added to the batter in cooked form, giving the cake a unique texture as well as gluten-free credentials if used in place of flour. More predictably, our spring content soared in success – you were searching for lamb in your droves.
Late spring saw you up sticks from the home kitchen and relocate to the great outdoors as our most popular new entry was our guide on foods to cook when camping. We also saw the dawn of seasonal ingredient searches – from spring, the arrival of lots of new, ultra-seasonal produce like courgettes, elderflowers and rhubarb meant lots of you hit the site up for serving ideas.
The trend for cooking with seasonal specials continued in June, when elderflower cordial became extremely popular with our users. It seems we’re all making the most of these warmer weather buds, which is something to celebrate. You were also reading about everyone’s favourite summer cucurbit – courgettes. Our guide to cooking with them is one of our site’s all-time most popular.
Along with the usual popularity of barbecue and picnic content, mid-summer saw you visit our tapas recipe collection en masse, the warm weather clearly providing an excuse to get friends and family round for a Spanish-style, al fresco feast. We also took our tastebuds one step further afield by trying shakshuka for the first time. This brunch dish of eggs poached in tomatoes is thought to originate in Tunisia but is served throughout the Middle East and, now, England. Hurrah.
August saw an unlikely and niche search term typed into the site – pulled pork. We responded by writing the ultimate guide to this American barbecue classic. You can thank us when you take that first bite into the soft brioche bun filled with ultra-tender meat. We also expanded our brunch horizons further by trying Sri Lankan egg hoppers at a London food market. These thin rice pancakes are cooked over a pan to create a bowl shape, which is filled with eggs and fresh sambol (chutney).
Our special diet content surged in popularity in late summer – our new guide to spotting gluten in foods became the most-read new content on the site. The article explains what it means to follow a truly free-from diet by highlighting foods you may not expect to contain gluten. We also saw the start of slow cooker season – our guides, recipes and reviews are visited all year round, but as soon as there’s a chill in the air, slow-cooked comfort food is top of everyone's menu.
By October, our new food diary series was in full swing, and one of the most tasty items we discovered off the back of it was sesame molasses, which we rather confidently (and grandly) proclaimed to be the new salted caramel. Maybe 2016 will be the year the mighty sweet sauce is knocked off its perch? You were also searching for chicken curry, proving that the cold weather and darker evenings give cause to settling down with a bowl of something warm and comforting.
Bonfire parties and the urge for stodge saw thousands of people visit our guide to making the ultimate baked potato. It sounds like an easy enough cooking task, but when you factor in fillings, potato type and that coveted crispy skin, a little assistance sounds appealing. You were also getting ahead for Christmas by cooking our make and mature fruitcake. What an organised nation we are…
December is a predictable month in terms of most-popular content, and it’s also a time when we see a huge peak in our traffic. One thing we can guarantee will surge in popularity isn’t turkey, stuffing or sprouts (all of which have their day in the sun) but mince pies. In the days running up to Christmas, thousands of you make your own pastry to house that juicy mincemeat. Our most popular Christmas guide for two years has been our guide to cooking with gammon and ham. Which leads us to say: 2015, you’ve been a blast. Over and snout…
*The above are based on seasonality and breakout statistics in comparison to the previous month. All correct as of the 21st December 2015.
What was the best thing you ate this year? We'd love to hear your top eats and food discoveries.