Why Is Everyone Suddenly Obsessed With Baking Bread?
Here's a real slice of life
One thing has taken over all my social media feeds in a trend I can’t ignore. No, it’s not coronavirus or the election, I became numb to that weeks ago. No, this one is proof that a new trend is on the rise. While folks are sour on the economy and their lack of dough, a new hobby seems to be all they need, or should I say: knead.
Yes, we’re talking about bread. For some reason, the two things everyone is doing during this national lockdown are playing Animal Crossing and baking bread at home. Now, I know nothing about the first one, but bread baking is something I’ve experimented with and so maybe we can get to the bottom of why this, of all things, has captured imaginations.
Homemade bread isn’t a new trend. Like at home canning, gardening and even wildcrafting, it’s one of many ways for people to feel more connected to the food they eat and their domestic lives in an industrialized world. Sure, we don’t have to make our own jam or grow our own tomatoes, or even cook our own food, but doing it yourself makes it more meaningful, healthier, sustainable and even cheaper.
And right now, with even a grocery store run having become a dangerous expedition, it’s no longer quite a case of “we don’t have to do this but it’s fun.” Right now, there are people that would definitely rather go through the long process of baking bread instead of daring a trip to the local market.
And making bread is a process, which is also part of the appeal here. It’s not like making cookies or whipping up a meal, bread takes time. You have to let bread rise, often more than once, and the physical process of kneading and shaping a loaf is far more hands-on than stirring a pot of lentils. It’s careful and tactile and the end result is so satisfying. You get to fill your empty time AND YOU GET FRESH BREAD.
If you haven’t had the pleasure, let me tell you, there are few things better and more comforting than the smell of baking bread in your house. It’s so good. And a warm fresh slice with butter? Oh boy, I’m getting hungry right now. Bread is just great, people. It’s the literal foundation of civilization.
Right now, people want comfort and routine and something real and warm and … that’s bread. Sure there are other hobbies to try (I’ve gotten into wildcrafting, as mentioned above), but this one is pretty accessible to start and after a few hours, you get a delicious result. It’s relatively inexpensive too, since all you really need is an oven, flour, yeast, and time.
Of course, there are pitfalls. Sourdough, which is very popular, also is more complex and you can’t just dive into it. You need a sourdough starter, which is a whole other process, but also fun. You can also buy or be given starters. If you want to experiment with bread, I’d say, start with a simple french bread and then work from there towards more complicated recipes. If you like things that need to rise overnight, try Alton Brown’s overnight cinnamon rolls, they’re heavenly.
We’re all coping with being cooped up however we can, and if baking bread makes people happy, then it’s a trend we can get behind. Now excuse me, I have to go feed some yeast.
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