The pandemic has been creating many new bakers, as it has drastically changed on peoples’ lives and their usual daily routine. When the pandemic was first announced, there was a frenzy on buying toilet paper, and now, on baking products. This pandemic has created an uprise in creativity and discovery as people try to navigate new things to do while at home. Baking products like yeast and flour were hard to find a few weeks ago as many are baking at home instead of buying. Now, grocery stores have picked up on the frenzy and are restocking as needed. The question is, why have people found interest in baking?
During the first week of April, Google Trends reported the number of bread recipe searches at it’s all-time high. Ingredients like flour and yeast were flying off the shelves during the initial stages of the pandemic, indicating an increase in home bakers making their own bread and other treats.
The thought of not being able to go to the grocery stores as often as before has created a sense of fight and flight response in some, making them stock up on pantry staples. Many now have the time to knead dough, watch it rise, and be a part of the long process that is required to make bread.
“I was shocked and quite confused as to why so many people were being selfish in times of need, such as right now while dealing with a virus,” says Christine Wincentaylo, a sociology student from MacEwan University, discussing the fact that yeast and flour were sold out in many grocery stores around Edmonton.
She adds that baking has been a stress reliever for her during the pandemic. “I love baking for comfort and enjoyment.” She has dedicated her spare time to finding and creating her own original recipes. “I love the challenge that comes with creating new recipes,” says Wicentaylo. She also managed to make sourdough, a recipe that has become popular during COVID-19 isolation because of the time people have according to an article by CBC. “It was a success! I made sourdough in all sorts of ways and I enjoy this new way of coming together while baking,” says Wicentaylo.
Pre-pandemic, few would have expected these items to sell out so widely across the city, but the pandemic changed many people’s shopping habits. “People are not looking for quick fixes, but instead looking for items that can help them make something that would last, hence ingredients like yeast and flour,” says Mehnaz Abdulrahman, a journalism student from MacEwan. Abdulrahman says that she has not made sourdough or even caramel pecan rolls as yeast was sold out, so instead of waiting around, she decided to explore new recipes to make such as strawberry chiffon cake and Milo brownies.
According to an article by Mindfood, a study was done in the International Journal of Humanities and Social Science, stating that “cooking improves a person’s wellbeing and is associated with life satisfaction.” For some, baking helps them create a space for themselves and gives them a sense of achievement. Like Wincentaylo, Abdulrahman also loves baking. “Baking helps me keep myself organized and helps me with generating content for my youtube channel,” says Abdulrahman.
Mehnaz has a YouTube channel called snackzwithmehnaz that is dedicated to food and entertainment. She posts videos that follow her baking journey and experimenting with new baking recipes that have made her quarantine fruitful and less stressful.
As many are already stressed at home not knowing what to do, Mehnaz says that comfort baking has given many something to do at home. “People have been baking for comfort … knowing that they have achieved something despite staying at home,” says Abdulrahman. She also adds that we should try our hand in baking, “whether it is a success or failure, trying during these hard times is the best achievement.”
Below are recipes by Wincentaylo and Abdulrahman you should try.
Sourdough soft pretzels:
- 1 cup sourdough starter
- 1 1/4 cup warm water
- 3 ½ cups flour
- 1 tbsp. salt
- 8 cups water
- 1/3 tsp. of baking soda
- 1 egg white, whisked
- salt to garnish
1. Combine warm water and starter in a bowl, then add two cups of flour and set it aside covered for 30 to 60 minutes.
2. Add sugar, salt and remaining flour in the bowl and mix, knead the dough for about five minutes.
3. Get a new bowl and coat it with oil, then put the dough in and let it sit at room temperature.
4. After 30 minutes, lift one side of the dough and fold it into the middle. Repeat this procedure two more times.
5. Flip the dough upside down and wait 60 minutes.
6. Cover and refrigerate the dough in the bowl for 30 minutes.
7. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and coat with olive or canola oil
8. Divide the dough into 12 pieces and roll pieces out to create a long string made out of dough, then twist the dough two times to create the pretzel shape. Place them on the parchment paper.
9. Combine the eight cups of water and baking soda and boil the water. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
10. Drop the pretzels in the boiling water for 10 seconds then flip over for another 10 seconds.
11. Brush each pretzel with egg wash, then salt, and bake in the oven for roughly 15 minutes.
- 1/2 cup melted butter
- 2 tbsp. Canola oil
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 4 eggs
- 1 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/4 tsp. baking powder
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 3/4 cup Milo
- Mix all the ingredients above using a mixer or using a spatula in a bowl
- Once the batter is mixed evenly, pour the batter into a tray that has already been layered with butter to prevent the brownies sticking to the pan.
- Bake at 350F for 20 to 25 minutes.
Image by Calum Lewis, via Unsplashed