How I proved to bake something that was actually edible
By Brandon Yip, Senior Columnist
Baking has been an activity many people have partaken in since the start of the pandemic in March. The thought of enjoying baking as a hobby would never have occurred to me five years ago, let alone five months ago.
Remarkably, during the pandemic, I did some baking. It is not something that I normally would do but being stuck at home so much left me bored senseless. I kept seeing articles on how people were trying to keep themselves occupied, and baking appeared to be at the top of those lists.
An article published on Healthline discusses the mental health benefits of baking. In the article, Julie Ohana, creator of CulinaryArtTherapy.com, states that baking can be a surreal and therapeutic experience. “When the task allows you to create something to nourish yourself and your loved ones, it can be a very powerful experience,” Ohana said. She further elaborates by stating that baking is a great way to manage anxiety: “I believe that focusing on a specific task or skill, forcing someone to ‘get out of their own head’[…] can really be helpful to quiet one’s inner dialogue where the anxiety stems from.”
Ariadne Ava Butalid, a life enrichment assistant at a West Vancouver retirement home, says baking at home has helped her cope better with stress during the pandemic. “I find baking during the pandemic therapeutic and one way of relieving stress when we all are facing uncertainties in these difficult times,” Butalid said in an email interview with the Other Press. “I baked banana cake, bread, loaves, and blueberry cake to name a few. It is a comforting feeling especially during the lockdown,” she said.
Surprisingly, over the summer, I baked two items. The first was focaccia bread and the second was Irish soda bread. My focaccia bread recipe called for one teaspoon of yeast. Unfortunately, I didn’t have yeast in my house, so, I searched on Google for a yeast substitute and I found one. Use half a teaspoon of baking soda and half a teaspoon of lemon juice. It does the job and works great! Yes, you heard it right here from a non-professional baker! I can just picture Gordon Ramsay saying that I should add a dash (or a gallon) of olive oil!
Notably, I found an Irish soda bread recipe from user KnockoutKitchen on YouTube. After watching the video and listening to the guy narrating and discussing the recipe in his unique and engaging Irish accent, I was craving some of that bread. The bread looked so delicious after he had taken it out of the oven. I then made the decision to try and bake it myself—it turned out fantastic. I feared that it would look like a burnt meatball or meteor-like substance that is totally indistinguishable… except for that fact that it belongs in a trash can.
Importantly, I would recommend baking to anyone who is having difficulty coping during these pandemic times. Keeping your mind stimulated and occupied is one way to combat stress and anxiety. I did not think I would enjoy baking, but I did. And during the process of baking, I felt calm and relaxed. Who knows what I will bake next?
Irish Soda Bread Recipe
4 cups flour (half whole wheat flour and half regular flour)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 and 3/4 cups buttermilk
Mix all ingredients together. Roll and form into a ball and place in a baking tray (spray bottom with cooking spray). Take a knife and make two incisions on top of the bread (form an X). Cover with foil and bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes. Afterwards, remove foil and bake for another 15 minutes. Then remove from oven and smear with butter and let dry on rack.