As we enter the third month of the Coronavirus Pandemic, it has become more difficult to find ways to pass our time. While many of us have work, that still does not take away from the fact that it seems as though it is Groundhog Day, each day doing the same thing as the day before. And I have found this problem a nuance too: staring at my computer screen for hours each day brings about lack of motivation and a painful, consistent migraine. In these times of boredom and repetitiveness, I have found solace in the one thing I told myself I was never successful at… baking.
I have never been an individual who found joy in baking, I am usually the type to burn or destroy anything edible that I touch. However, it has gotten to the point in the past three months that I will resort to anything, and honestly, I have found the greatest pleasure in the thing I used to hate. So far in my baking adventures I’ve succeeded in making cookies and brownies, and on the other side of the spectrum, cooking, I have even gone as far as to make homemade pasta for the first time in my short life.
But the fact of the matter is, baking, especially in these times of unknown, can have many mental benefits. One such benefit is having full control of the situation. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, it appears that we have had no control of our lives, having been forced to stay at home, unable to see friends and family, and constantly fearing how the virus might affect your well-being. The fact of the matter is, control has not been in our hands for some time now. However, baking is able to change that; with this fundamental and entertaining task, you can control what you want to bake, how long you want to bake for, choosing and enhancing the flavor profile of your choice. Everything is left up to you.
Baking can also keep you connected with the world. In a time where it is difficult to interact with friends and family, baking can be used as a bond between you and the world. One of my friends actually put this into practice, surprising each of us around our town with snickerdoodles. In this moment, we were able to connect on the basis of the deliciousness of the cookies that she went out of her way to make for us.
I also have been baking to connect, but with the people in my home. Everything that I have made the past couple of weeks involves the mindset of making the people around me happy and comforted. And while my chocolate chip cookies might have turned out scones-like instead, my family laughed and happily ate them anyway.
The act of baking is for everyone. Writers like Rainbow Rowell, young adult author of books like Fangirl and Eleanor & Park, has been frequenting her Instagram of new baking creations her family has cooked up. From Carrot Cake to Donuts to Animal Crossing-themed cake pops, Rowell showcases what her family has been cooking up because, as she states in one of her Instagram posts: “My husband made these, of course. I make nothing.” Although she is not physically making all of the creations featured on her Instagram, it is important to note how baking can bring joy to every individual, bringing everyone closer together.
Along the lines of bringing people together, this not only applies on a smaller, local scale, but also on a national and worldwide scale as well. Bakers around the world have started hosting virtual bake sales, with the majority of proceeds donated to the many organizations that support Black Lives Matter. Created by the three esteemed chefs--Paola Velez, Willa Lou Pelini, Rob Rubba--Bakers Against Racism recognized a call for action in order to “fight and stand up against the unjust treatment of Black people in the United States. We are armed to fight racism with the tools we know how to utilize, our FOOD.”
The movement is for everyone who wants to see radical change. Those bakers who participate are asked to make at least 150 baked items for sale, and in turn, must donate a “majority” of the sales to a charity or organization that supports Black Lives Matter. While asked to donate a majority, many bakers, such as Laura Scherb, and others all over the country are instead donating all proceeds.
It has been difficult to find new activities to accomplish over the monotonous past three months, however, in a sense, baking can be the solution. There is always a new creation that you can whip up, allowing the creative juices to flow and be expressed. And even in a time where everything might seem lost and unjust, baking is there to lend a helping hand, whether that be for yourself or for the world.