The desire to fire up the oven usually runs deeper than the sweet output of golden-crusted end results. While it can be incredibly satisfying to pull trays of perfect pastries and sweets out of the oven, the recent surge in home baking in the midst of world-beating pandemic points to something closer to human instinct.
Between March and May this year, baking supplies stores and supermarkets in North America and the United Kingdom reported ballparks of between 400 and 700 percent increase in sales of baking essentials like flour, powder and yeast. Sourdough bread, in all their stone- shaped glory and pockmarked interiors, became a viral sensation on the Instagram accounts of celebrities, influencers, and home chefs crowd-sourcing notes on cultivating yeast starters.
The sudden attention on baking might be psychological. Unlike cooking, the joys of baking may not always be derived from the end results. There are few things more primal and gratifying than making hot bread with your hands. When the world is in turmoil and facing grave uncertainties, the act of baking allows simple ingredients like flour, yeast, water and salt to offer solace and a much-needed sense of control.
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July - August 2020