2020 was dominated by one thing and one thing only. The coronavirus pandemic has affected every single person in this country, especially business owners. As bakeries have learned how to navigate this challenging period, they’re looking for ways to make rent, pay employees and more generally just stay in business.

But there were reasons for those in the retail baking community to be optimistic. Bakeries around the country are finding creative and inspiring ways to bring in customers and also make their communities better. They’ve adapted their business models to focus on delivery and carryout. They’ve helped to raise money for local organizations that are feeding the less fortunate, while also managing to keep their lights on.

This topic was one we covered extensively this year, but there were many other topics our readers found interesting. The following is our list of the top stories of 2020.

Baking in the age of the coronavirus

Life has been strange and challenging in 2020. These days, you hear plenty of talk about us coming together to persevere in the face of adversity. That is exactly what the baking community is doing. Earlier this year, we looked at some of the creative and generous ways bakeries have responded to the pandemic.

Magnolia Bakery offers vanilla cupcake recipe to home bakers during coronavirus pandemic

Americans were looking for activities to keep them busy during stay-at-home orders and social distancing brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. To give amateur bakers something new to try, the world-renowned Magnolia Bakery offered several of its iconic recipes on its Instagram stories, one of those being its classic vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream.

Former Carlo’s Bakery baker creates optical illusion cakes

Luke Vincentini, an independent cake artist who formerly worked at the famed Carlo’s Bakery, went viral this year with his hyper-realistic cake depictions of food, beverages and other items.

The future of wedding cakes

Cake decorating artists and related businesses are monitoring how to adjust their product lines and spaces not to maximize capacity, but to ensure safety with the emergence of COVID-compliance.

Mariah Carey launches online cookie brand

In early December, the legendary recording artist announced the launch of her own online dessert brand, Mariah’s Cookies. Launching in time for the holiday season, Mariah’s Cookies is available in select markets from coast-to-coast, delivering cookies directly to customers’ doors.

Can pay-for-performance systems work?

In an era of rising wages and automation, performance-based pay could be the next big step for lowering costs and attracting talent. Mr. Holmes Bakehouse, a thriving baking brand on the West Coast, thinks that its system could be revolutionary in the industry.

The dawn of ghost kitchens

Establishing food preparation and cooking facilities for delivery-only meals is gaining widespread popularity and is reshaping the future of retail foodservice.

Education takes center stage in the baking industry

The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken up almost everything in the food industry, and it’s important to look down the road at what’s ahead. Many are enhancing industry efforts to expand baking skills.

Milk Jar Cookies plots a critical strategy for growth

The Los Angeles bakery was founded on the idea that enjoying a cookie and a glass of milk could be elevated to a gourmet dining experience. That has allowed it to develop a deeply loyal fanbase all over the country.

How third-party delivery benefits bakeries

With food delivery becoming a major source of revenue for retail bakeries during the coronavirus outbreak, delivery platforms became more important than ever before.