January Baking Challenge

artisan bread loaves

Before we begin a new year of Sally’s Baking Challenge, let’s take a moment to appreciate all the hard work and effort you put into participating this year. From homemade bagels and truffles to vertical cake and caramel apples, you truly challenged yourself in 2019. I’m absolutely FLOORED with the amount of participation each month!

Thank you so much for making the monthly baking challenges so much fun!!!

2019 Sally’s Baking Challenge Review

Click on each link to view the challenge recipe.

  1. January: Homemade Bagels
  2. February: Chocolate Truffles
  3. March: Lemon Bars
  4. April: Dinner Rolls
  5. May: Scones
  6. June: Angel Food Cake
  7. July: No Bake Cheesecake Jars
  8. August: Vertical Cake
  9. September: Homemade Cheese Bread
  10. October: Caramel Apples
  11. November: Pumpkin Praline Pie
  12. December: Butter Cookies

There were over 6,000 participants this year and Butter Cookies had the most! 2 cakes, 3 yeast recipes, candies, breakfast, pie, and a jar recipe– talk about a wide selection!

Sallys Baking Challenge recipes 2019


January 2020 Baking Challenge: Homemade Artisan Bread

I love starting the new year with a yeast bread challenge! These challenges push you outside of your comfort zone and, usually, the general feedback is “this is way easier than I thought!” For example, homemade bagels and cheese bread. This January we’re focusing on a staple bread recipe that I simply call “artisan bread.” Shaped into a longer loaf or a boule (round loaf), this no knead bread requires only 4 ingredients and zero special equipment. No dutch oven or special pan needed.


Everyone who participates in the January Baking Challenge is automatically entered. See below for How to Join Sally’s Baking Challenge. My assistant and I keep track of your photos and randomly select 1 winner at the end of the month. This giveaway is open to the whole world. Giveaway ends on January 30th 2020 at 5pm ET.

1 winner will receive: $250 Amazon Gift Card. Winner will be selected at random and posted in the February Baking Challenge blog post on January 31st 2020.

How to Join Sally's Baking Challenge

  1. Recipe: On or around the 1st of each month, I publish a new challenge recipe. Sign up for Sally’s Baking Challenge emails so you’re alerted as soon as a new challenge recipe is published!
  2. Bake & Comment: Bake the recipe during that month.
  3. Share: Share your recipe photo using #sallysbakingchallenge and tagging me (@sallysbakeblog) on your public Instagram or Twitter. (Instagram direct messages are hard to track, so please email me your recipe photo instead.) You can also email me your recipe photo or upload your recipe photo to my Facebook page or Facebook group. By sharing your photo with me, you are automatically entered in the giveaway. For a bonus entry, leave a review on the challenge recipe.

Want to subscribe? Sign up for Sally’s Baking Challenge emails so you’re alerted as soon as a new challenge recipe is published.

Let’s Review the December Baking Challenge

December Baking Challenge: Homemade Butter Cookies

The most participants in ANY baking challenge recipe since its introduction in February 2017! 🙂 These butter cookies are a homemade version of a Danish classic. Shaped with a piping tip and decorated with sugar, sprinkles, chocolate, and/or cherries, these cookies were EVERYWHERE in December. Prone to over-spreading, though, this wasn’t exactly the easiest challenge recipe. Taking the extra steps to use the right tools and chill the shaped dough proved that even easy-sounding recipes require attention and precision.

One of my favorite comments came from reader Laurie:

“These cookies are really easy to make and so delicious! They are perfectly buttery and crumbly- great with coffee or hot chocolate. I highly recommend dipping them in melted chocolate and adding the sprinkles! Thanks, Sally- another awesome recipe!”

We gathered as many butter cookie photo entries as we could and included them below. (Email is the best way to help guarantee your photo will be included!)

Giveaway winner for December is Jessica and she has been notified. 🙂


  1. I am so excited for this challenge! I’ve never made an artisan bread before, but I can already tell my entire family is going to love this one!


    1. Hi H.D– did you send to [email protected]? I don’t see your email in my folder. We receive hundreds of these and if I responded to you, then you were counted in the running on our spreadsheet. Sometimes we aren’t able to include every single picture since there are hundreds. Thank you so much for participating!

      1. Yes, I did send it to you and I did get the automatic reply that you were busy because it was December.
        Yeah, I guess there’s not enough space, but that’s fine.

  2. Can’t wait for this recipe!!! I love bread of any kind, and this looks so good…..keeping my eye out for the recipe tomorrow.
    And congrats to Jessica – your cookies look so good.

  3. I cannot wait for January’s challenge! I love baking with yeast but have never made artisan bread before. I’m excited to continue with this recipe!

  4. Hi Sally
    Happy New Year’s Eve. I’m excited to attempt this as I’ve never made bread before without a bread machine. It’s been on my to do list for a couple years. Looking forward to the recipe and the challenge.

  5. Exciting choice after a month of sugar overload! have only made a very small number of experiments with bread, so can’t wait for the tutorials and all the pics from “Sally’s Family”! Happy New Year!!

  6. AH! I can’t wait for this challange! My husband recently bought me a whole pack of Red Star Platinum yeast and I’ve been looking for the perfect recipe to start using it!

  7. What a great challenge, as January I will be doing a “40 day Sugar fast”
    So this will be perfect to do in the kitchen, thanks again for all your amazing work/sharing on this blog. Love it, and have learned so much.

  8. I’m excited to try out this challenge. I didn’t get to as many challenges as I would have liked last year but I’m eager to make this a resolution for 2020– all 12 challenges! Thank you, Sally, for the inspiration. I’m excited to improve my baking, get outside my comfort zone, and to see what 2020 brings 🙂

    1. Meghan C. that is one of my goals for this year as well, want to stretch my baking skills to do more than what I just usually make. looking forward to making this over the weekend.

  9. I like Meghan C.’s new year’s resolution! And, yay for another yeast challenge recipe! Psyched to start 2020 with you all, and thank you, dear Sally, for your awesome work. Happy New Year!

  10. I’m so excited I found this challenge. I love to cook but for some reason baking makes me super nervous. I’m definitely one of those people who thinks yeast is terrifying. BUT I’ve been wanting to get braver and better for so long. This seems like the perfect way to do it- with a community of other participants who can help me and encourage me along the way!

  11. As mentioned above, bread making is not one of my strong points either. Looking forward to “tackling” this one Sally. Who doesn’t love homemade bread.

  12. I found your website this month and I’m so excited to join this years baking challenges! Thanks for the amazing recipes, I can’t wait for more!

  13. I’m far from a young baker, but bread has never been my calling, so I’ll be interested in how well I do with this challenge

  14. I usually make a butter spritz cookie recipe that I like, but thought I would give this a try instead this year. Am I glad I did. Mine spread a bit more than I wished because I do not have the hand strength to have kept the dough as stiff as I would have liked, but oh my goodness. The flavor and crumb are truly outstanding. Think I will be throwing out my cookie press :).

  15. What a perfect challenge for January—after all the cookies and sweets in December, a savoury bake is exactly what we need. So excited to give this a whirl!

  16. Hi Sally,
    I just baked the bread tonight (it has been resting in the fridge since yesterday) and I am really pleased with the result! I have tried a fair amount of bread recipes over the years, but I have never successfully made crusty artisan bread. It didn’t rise much so I was afraid that it would be dense but the interior was nice and fluffy, and I will definitely be making this one again. Thanks for the recipe Sally!

  17. Tried this recipe today. Such a fun challenge. I did use plain old flour and to make it crispy I threw ice cubes on bottom of oven. Thanks for motivating me to learn how to bake!

  18. Yay! I’m so excited to start the year off with a yeast recipe! Yeast baking intimidates me and I really want to overcome that this year! Thank you so much! God bless!

  19. This was by far the easiest bread I’ve ever made!! And it was so good! I did not use bread flour tho, but it was still awesome. I will be adding this to my list of favorites, thanks : )

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I’m Sally, a cookbook author, photographer, and blogger. My goal is to give you the confidence and knowledge to cook and bake from scratch while providing quality recipes and plenty of pictures. Grab a cookie, take a seat, and have fun exploring! more about Sally