Stress Baking More Than Usual?

Confined to their homes, Americans are kneading dough.

By Alexandra Marvar

As the country shuts down city by city and families are being confined to their homes, one thing’s for sure: Americans are baking.

“I came home from work last week one night, I had just anchored ‘All Things Considered,’ and I was feeling anxious and like everything is spinning out of control,” said Mary Louise Kelly, 49, the NPR anchor, over the phone from her home in Washington, D.C. “It’s always a joy, when you do something abstract like broadcasting, to do something physical. Also, it just seemed so damned wholesome — a loaf of banana bread. It felt like what we needed, all warm and golden, like this must be a force for good in uncertain times.”

Ms. Kelly adapted a pumpkin bread recipe, throwing in chopped-up caramels, using brown sugar instead of white, all-purpose flour instead of wheat, and in place of pumpkin, three “extremely ripe” bananas.

Then she posted to Twitter: “Anyone else in their kitchen sipping red wine and aggressively baking banana bread at 9:40 p.m.? No? Just me? #coronavirusbaking.”

Quickly, thousands of likes and comments — and more pictures of fresh baked goods — poured in. “It was a moment where absolutely everybody felt the same way, where Twitter hits a nerve, and you think ‘Oh my God, I’m not alone, there’s someone else out there with a glass of wine, baking at 9 o’clock at night,” Ms. Kelly said.

In the past few weeks, social media has been flooded with the photos of “isolation loaves” and “quarantine cookies.” Baking necessities like flour and yeast are in short supply and best-selling bread makers that were in stock as of mid-March are now sold out across the internet.

But for those who can still get the ingredients, baking provides a combination of distraction, comfort and — especially with bread recipes, which can take days to complete — something to look forward to.

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