As the world screeched to a halt this year, millions of quarantined, self-isolating and lockdown communities sought out new hobbies. Comforting indoor pastimes such as knitting and jigsaw puzzles boomed, but the most popular trend of all was surely baking.
Cooking your way through anxiety is nothing new – but with millions confined to their homes, bread emerged as the global lockdown activity of choice. Low carb diets went out the window, with people craving wholesome, comforting basics and keen to avoid unnecessary trips to supermarket for staples that could be created at home.
From sourdough to bagels, Kieran Wollin, Technical Advisor and Product Developer for Bakery Craft believes: “Baking bread is just one of those things that usually goes on the ‘when I have time’ list.”
Bread making is not to be hurried – a loaf of sourdough often taking upwards of 24 hours from start to completion. Perhaps it is this very ‘slowness’ of rolling, kneading, and mixing that offers a tangible, meditative experience. Indeed, studies have also shown that people who take turn at a small, creative projects, report feeling more relaxed and happy.
“Baking is also one of those great activities to get the kids involved with, and because it’s a lengthy process, it fills endless days at home, and ends with something delicious and wholesome out of the oven,” says Kieran.
As Melbourne enters Lockdown 2.0, we look at some of the bakery trends that went big on social media:
Time is one of the most important ingredients for sourdough so with endless days in lockdown, home bakers – and even non-bakers – felt inclined to try their hand at things they’d not attempted before.
Supermarket shelves were quickly stripped bare of flour as timely feeding of sourdough starters felt (almost) as important as caring for a needy pet, and savvy bakeries cashed in offering ‘Sourdough Starter Kits’ for sale.
Encouraged by professional bakers on YouTube and Instagram demystifying the process, and helpful email or Instagram hotlines to answer questions, beautiful images of sourdough loaves and creative uses for leftover starter, quickly filled social media feeds.
Relatively simple to pull together and a great activity for kids, the humble focaccia of my 90s-childhood was given a social media makeover. Home bakers summonsed their inner Van Gough, and turned blank bread canvasses into edible masterpieces using herbs, seeds and vegetables. The only problem – Are they too pretty to eat?
One of the most visible trends of lockdown, banana bread is perfect for isolation cooking: Easy to make with pantry-staples and capable of using up browning, panic-bought bananas. Instagram was filled with every conceivable variety from simple 5-ingreident classics; to health conscious vegan versions; right through to decadent loaves filled with Nutella and swirls of tahini.
Queuing for Insta-worthy baked goods
With food shopping one of the very few reasons to leave the house during lockdown, some social media savvy bakeries and patisseries became the site of weekly pilgrimages for customers eager for wholesome, comfort food – and Insta-worthy photos, of course!
In Melbourne, lengthy socially-distanced queues sprang up around the corner for Instagram darlings like Tivoli Road Bakery, Agathe Patisserie, Holy Crumpets and Beatrix – all routinely selling out before midday and introducing online delivery services.
Social-Distancing Bread Sticks
The Japanese got particularly creative with social distancing techniques including one bakery in Miyazaki prefecture which created extra-long social-distancing French baguettes.
Made by Riviere Pain, each baguette measures about 1 metre in length so with two baguettes – one for you and one for a friend – you can check you’re keeping to a safe distance at all times!