A Sweet Escape: Baking During the Pandemic

By Mimi Hamada, Editor

Since the stay at home order and remote learning has been in effect, many in the Payton community have used baking to pass the time that they now find themselves having too much of. Whether it be testing out a new cake recipe or attempting to bake a loaf of sourdough bread, students and teachers have started to bring their creativity outside of the classroom and into the kitchen. 

One such baker, senior Jane Clarke, has been using this time to further her skills and try out recipes that she might not otherwise have had the time to attempt. Her favorite food that she has made has been sourdough bread (currently very popular). She named her sourdough starter “Moochie Sue” and says that so far she has baked four beautiful loaves. She records the majority of her baking endeavors on her Instagram page, @janesbakeoff. 

The teachers at Payton are also getting in on the action. Ms. Mowery, a member of Payton’s English department, has been baking sourdough bread as well. “I bake a loaf about every other day,” she said. 

Baking has not come without its fair share of quarantine related problems though. Grocery stores around the country are experiencing shortages of baking basics such as flour and yeast. “It’s definitely harder to get ingredients. I’ve been slowly stocking up on flour,” said Clarke. 

But these shortages are also fueling something else: creativity. Many are looking for recipes that use ingredients they already have in their houses or that can be easily swapped for something else. “There’s a lot of specialty flours, like spelt and rye in stock, which I’ve been using in bread and cookies!” said Clarke.
Others are using the extra time to try more complex recipes that use uncommon but in stock ingredients. “Baking has changed a lot for me during the pandemic,” said Harper Robbins ‘20. “On one hand, I have to work around shortages of basics like flour, sugar and yeast. On the other, I have a lot more time so I’m able to make more complex things. These two factors have combined into a pretty happy medium of a lot of vegan/paleo/‘alternate’ diet desserts that take longer and have more ingredients but fewer basics that everyone is buying up.”

Baking has also provided a much needed outlet for people to relieve stress and be distracted for a few hours. “Baking has always been a great emotional outlet for me, and it’s been especially helpful during this time where it’s really easy to fall into a four-hour google spiral of why we’re never going to go to college,” said Robbins.  

It also has allowed for students to remain connected with those around them, albeit in a socially distant way.  “I’ve really been missing my neighbors during this time–we’re a close-knit block…–so being able to drop off baked goods for them and vice versa, swapping recipes over text and all that has been nice,” said Robbins. 

Clarke agrees that baking has allowed her to remain in contact with those she cares about while also creating new connections with others. “Through my instagram account I’ve been able to talk to people about what they make, and I’ve even delivered goods to neighbors and friends,” she says. Most importantly though, baking has provided her with “new ways to connect with people,” something that will help her, and others who are baking, get through these socially distant times. 

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