Michelle baking with Canva edits.

Baking Is Getting Me Through Quarantine, & I Don't Regret A Thing

It’s day sixty-five of quarantine (and counting), and I just took my third banana bread of the week out of the oven. 

Don’t be alarmed – I’m well aware that this is probably not a reasonable amount of banana bread for one household. Two households, even! Nonetheless, I'm confident that my loved ones will welcome the abundance of confectioneries with open arms. To be honest, I myself am even more grateful for the distraction and comfort the baking itself provides me with. There’s just something to be said about the smell of freshly baked cookies and the soothing motion of kneading elastic dough.

Don't get me wrong, this isn't a newfound love by any means. I used to be an avid baker back in high school, baking batches of snickerdoodles between study sessions, and making celebratory cupcakes for every conceivable holiday on the calendar. But when I got to university, the habit slowly but surely... disappeared. Like every other student, I quickly got swept up in the never-ending tornado of deadlines, extracurriculars and midterms, and it just got harder and harder to find the time. But if quarantine has given me anything, it's time. And, it’s not just me that's going through this sudden infatuation with baked goods.

My Instagram feed is saturated with pictures of sourdough starter. 

Yeast has suddenly become a hot commodity. (Side note: I’ve been looking for yeast in every single grocery store in my vicinity for the past four weeks, to no avail. What does a girl have to do to make some cinnamon buns around here?)

Tweets and memes about baking bread are going viral.

 

So, what caused all this? Did we all collectively tap into some sort of sugar-obsessed hive mind? There’s actually a solid psychological explanation for this. According to Philip Muskin (secretary of the American Psychiatry Association) in a recent Eater article on the hot subject of quarantine baking, baking is pretty similar to meditation. "Baking is mindful. Mindfulness means paying attention to yourself in the moment, and not being in the past, present, or the future, but really there," he explains. 

Basically, in a chaotic world where the future seems frightfully uncertain, it's nice to float around in a world for a few hours where your main concern is if your sourdough has risen enough. And I can totally vouch for that. When I'm baking, I'm not really thinking about how much I'm missing my campus, how online classes are going, or the how next semester is going to look. All of those heavy weights are gone for the time being, and I can focus on the sugary task at hand. What's also great about baking is this calming sense of accomplishment when I take my successful bakes out of the oven.

It's a small victory, yes, but it makes a world of a difference.

So, I say go ahead and bake on – that's what I'm going to do. Sure, banana bread and Bon Appétit videos probably aren’t very high on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, but they do seem to be the main things keeping me calm right now in this decidedly not-calm world.

And that's totally fine with me.