Last month, the masses were fighting tooth and nail for a roll of toilet paper. The store aisles were empty shelves; Purell was practically being sold on the black market. However, starting in May, the Lysol and paper product craze died down. Stores are still lacking supplies, though—just a different kind. To be specific: brown sugar, baking soda, and chocolate chips. America’s new coping mechanism? Baking.
The proof extends past the grocery store. Twitter is overflowing with successful banana bread attempts. A quick scroll through TikTok brings me a dark chocolate chip-coffee cookie tutorial, and right below, a lavender-honey cake recipe. The New York Times posted a gorgeous collection of Mother’s Day-themed bread and tarts. Let’s just say, my mouth is watering.
I never considered myself to be a baker nor a cook. My experience in the kitchen was less than exceptional, consisting mostly of pasta and boxed baked goods—another thing I never considered myself to be: a foodie trend follower. Now, I’m not saying I didn’t appreciate the Dalgona whipped coffee trend; it’s just that I never thought I could make it properly. To put it this way, anything done in the kitchen was not something done by me.
That changed at the beginning of this month, though. I baked fully from scratch for the first time, expecting complete catastrophe the entire duration of mixing and cooking. To my surprise, my chocolate chip cookies turned out just fine. After letting them cool for ten minutes, I came back to an empty plate. Going from someone who couldn’t measure sugar to save her life to a person capable of making edible cookies was quite an accomplishment from me. Everyone on my contact list received a photo of my underwhelming creations.
I’ll admit that when I go online and see photos of decorated focaccia and frog-shaped bread, I feel like quite an amateur. I mean sure, I can make cookies, but tomato and rosemary flower arrangements baked into bread? Unfortunately, I cannot say I am there (yet).
But with the amount of free time I have in between doing nothing and attending Google meets, I’ve had time to improve my skills. With a sudden surplus of fresh-picked blueberries, I realized I was facing a new baking challenge. And it was a challenge I rose to, baking four (FOUR) blueberry dishes within an hour. A crumble, a buckle, muffins, cake—I had no idea there were so many blueberry desserts. Just yesterday, I dabbled in a new kind of fruit: citrus! Yes, I did, in fact, zest myself while making the filling, but my key lime pie was widely approved.
Once again, I am not trying to flex my baking skills; it is just very exciting when you’re actually good at something you thought you were atrocious at doing.
So, if you are like me and doubt your baking abilities, I highly suggest you whip out some ingredients and start with something easy. ‘Easy’ might seem like a loose term, but you don’t want to purposely stress yourself out by aiming too high and having disappointing results. The goal of quarantine baking is to relax! You’re trying to relieve the anxiety of being alive during a global pandemic while simultaneously impressing everyone on Instagram (and your mom). And besides, chocolate chip cookies might just be the first step towards decorated focaccia.
Featured image courtesy of Mary Dodys