SOME women join baby groups to battle the loneliness and isolation of new motherhood.
But 29-year-old Anneliese Giggins instead turned to her recipe books and decided to bake away her blues.
Mrs Giggins, who lives near Bicester, has spent the last 18 months baking every recipe in cooking guru Mary Berry’s Baking Bible – all 218 of them.
She began the task when she picked up the previously untouched recipe book, a gift from her sister, when baby Isaac was seven months old.
Mrs Giggins, a former school receptionist at Hill View Primary School, Banbury, said: “I’ve always loved baking but I hadn’t baked since I got pregnant.
“I found the book and thought ‘what can I bake?’ then thought, why not bake the whole thing?
“I got quite excited about it.”
Mrs Giggins would bake twice at the weekend, and once on a Wednesday, then write about her experience in the evenings on her blog, risingtotheberry.blog spot.com, Facebook and Twitter.
Mrs Giggins, who is now pregnant with another boy due on November 5, said: “When you have a baby, you’re told baby blues come on the third day and assume you’ll just be tearful for a day or two. I didn’t find it went – I remember when Isaac was six months crying on Christmas Day and little things could set it off.”
Her baking challenge proved the focus on herself she needed.
Mrs Giggins spent up to £50 a month on ingredients and soon learned when she could cut corners and when only the best would do. She had to replace her cheap Swiss roll tin after it broke in the oven and found value chocolate had too high a fat content and often split.
While she said the brownies were so good she had made several batches, some recipes, such as Battenburg, she won’t repeat.
Mrs Giggins said: “I will never bother making marzipan again – that was horrible.”
Extra portions have been shared with neighbours and family members.
Mrs Giggins added that she was in no hurry to launch a similar challenge with any of her other cookery books.
She said: “It will be nice to bake what I like rather than having to stick to what’s in a cookbook.”
Her baking hero, Mary Berry, sent her a message of support, which Mrs Giggins said she was “absolutely chuffed” about, and her web developer husband Neil added his own congratulations.
He said: “It’s amazing.“There were tough times when others might have given up, but not Anneliese.
“Her cakes always tasted lovely. Thankfully I didn’t put on weight; I do run a lot and the vast amounts of extra washing up probably helped burn calories.”
Mary Berry said in a message to Anneliese: “Congratulations and lovely to hear about Isaac and how much you have enjoyed all the baking.
“What an achievement – you should be very proud.”
Anneliese's top tips
Spend more on quality tins – they will last a lifetime
If it doesn’t work out the first time don’t give up because next time it will be much more successful
Read recipes many times – it takes much longer than you think
Always use a good-quality chocolate for ganache
When making a fatless sponge like a Swiss roll, use an electric whisk or you’ll be there forever
Whip cupcakes or muffins on to a wire rack as soon as they are baked to stop sogginess and the paper pulling off
For cupcake mixture, use an ice-cream scoop to get them all the same size