Are you baking more at home and are you surprised at how easy it is?

I wanted to talk about baking, as it’s been a trend in lockdown. US Magazine has an article about all the celebrities who are baking and there are definitely more baked goods in my social media feed. I first started baking just a couple of weeks ago and really love it, although of course it contributes to me eating more. Baking used to intimidate me, but it’s surprisingly easy. The hardest part is just cleaning up after yourself. I’ve found that the harder recipes call for yeast and waiting while the bread rises. Yeast is tougher to get now due to everyone baking at home but I was lucky enough to score some. (I’m so grateful that I live in the country.)

Here are some recipes I’ve tried and some I’m interested in. Sidenote: I’m considering bringing back the Amazon posts soon. It’s been about six weeks since we’ve had one and the major sites, like US and People, are still running them. Hopefully it doesn’t seem tone deaf and is helpful, but let me know what you think.

Easy: Banana bread
My son goes through sporadic phases where he eats bananas, so I end up with overripe ones which are perfect for making bread. I can’t believe how easy it is to make banana bread! I’ve made it twice so far and both times it exceeded my expectations. Of course this doesn’t need yeast.

Easy: Bagels
I’ve also made this super easy bagel recipe twice, once with sour cream and once with the Greek yogurt that it calls for. I don’t have sesame seeds or poppy seeds and just used salt on them. I love salt bagels so much! With the sour cream these ended up like biscuits, but were still tasty. With Greek yogurt they tasted exactly like bagels. I couldn’t believe how simple it is to make bagels at home.

Easy: Old school peanut butter bread
I haven’t tried to make this yet, but am considering it. This is an old school peanut butter bread which a redditor found in a 1932 cookbook. I think my next project will be combining peanut butter and banana to make some kind of hybrid Elvis bread.

Medium: Biscuits from scratch
On Sunday I made biscuits and they were super flaky and tasty. I think the key is to put the butter in the freezer for 20 minutes so you can grate it more effectively. The only problem I had is that they didn’t turn out golden-looking and it was hard to know when to take them out of the oven. These were perfect though.

Medium: Carrot cake muffins
For Easter we made carrot cake muffins with cream cheese icing. They were delicious. The actual recipe wasn’t that difficult, but it was tough to shave all the carrots down. I ended up just using the food processor after realizing how much work it would be to use the grater.

Hard: Challah bread
I’m classifying this as “hard” because it requires making bread into ropes and then braiding it. Plus it needed two phases of proving/rising. I got the idea from Hugh Jackman’s appearance on The Tonight Show. Hugh and Jimmy made challah together and it came out looking so amazing. They made it look easy but it was more of a pain than I thought it would be. We followed the recipe (my son has been helping me bake) and made the ropes too long, so the bread had to be made into a wreath-like shape. It came out looking so pretty but it was thinner than the recipe called for so it was a little overbaked and tough.

Hard: Gardenscape focaccia
I saw an article in the NY Times about the popularity of gardenscape focaccia and now I want to make it! You use little tomatoes, herbs and vegetables like asparagus to make flower-like shapes in the bread. It can be tricky depending on the water content and thickness of the decorative veggies.

Medium-hard: Sourdough bread
I’ve never made sourdough bread, but I’ve been researching how to make the starter. The sourdough starter serves as an alternative to yeast, so this is a good option if you’d like bread but can’t find yeast anywhere. Here’s an article on how to make sourdough starter, it takes a few days and you have to pay attention to how it rises and falls over the day. Making the actual bread takes a bit longer than traditional bread as it needs more time to rise. I’m going to make this in the next couple of weeks.

Let me know if you have any good recipes to try! Also I’m putting my baking attempts on Twitter so please follow me if you want to see what I make next.

The challah before cooking:

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

56 Responses to “Are you baking more at home and are you surprised at how easy it is?”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. MrsRobinson says:

    I have been baking cookies and flourless chocolate cake (it’s hard to get flour!) and have the waistline to prove it.

    • ME says:

      I was just about to say it’s not easy to find flour…or lysol…or f*cking hand sanitizer.

    • Adrianna says:

      I used to enjoy making cakes from scratch and cookies, but haven’t for years because it’s extra calories that neither of us need. The kids are gone too so it would be just the two of us gorging ourselves and gaining even more weight. It’s great though for anyone who is now baking and enjoying eating all that delicious stuff.

      • Darla says:

        This is exactly why I only bake for the big holidays. It may be tempting now that we are on lockdown, but I knew that for me it would lead to weight gain, binge eating, and then depression.

  2. Becks1 says:

    I said I was going to make challah bread last weekend but never got around to it, maybe I’ll try this week. Ina Garten has a recipe that looks do-able. (btw, I love her IG during the quarantine!) I ordered yeast from amazon and its instant yeast, not active yeast, so that’s been throwing me off a little, but it seems to be working okay. I made bagels that were pretty good last week, but the recipe was from Southern Living and I’m thinking….I should try a different one, lol.

    I think you can bring back the Amazon posts. I understand why you stopped and maybe others feel differently though.

  3. Jem says:

    The hardest part of baking for me is finding flour and yeast!

    • vegasschmegas says:

      I bought yeast from eBay – came in a couple of days. It’s a one-pound package, and I keep it in the freezer. My market has flour on and off – I buy it when I can. But not hoarding. That’s mean.

  4. Mellie says:

    I bake a lot, but it’s usually things in my wheelhouse like cookies, cupcakes etc…well, now I’ve gotten into homemade cakes, cinnamon rolls, noodles and yeast rolls. Everything was good except the yeast rolls were not. This weekend the chicken and noodle dinner took about 3 hours to make from start to finish and about 12 minutes to eat. I can see why pioneers had a short life-span…they worked themselves to death.

  5. Other Renee says:

    I baked cookies last week for the first time in years. Now I can’t find flour anywhere. It’s ridiculous. 😡

    That challah looks AMAZING!

  6. Kathryn says:

    I have never ever been a baker. But I have an old bread machine – a misguided gift from my husband – that had been sitting dormant in my pantry for years. My neighbor gave me some yeast. So now I’ve made brioche, oatmeal bread, cheese bread, and more. Will need to go on a post covid diet.

  7. Boo says:

    Yesterday I made a Swiss meringue buttercream frosting for a vanilla layer cake and it was divine.

  8. Ohpioneer says:

    I‘ve made Irish brown bread, Soda bread, hot cross buns, baking powder biscuits ( which I used for strawberry shortcake), twist ( a family recipe it’s a braided enriched sweet bread), ginger snaps, and coconut crisp cookies.

  9. Lightpurple says:

    I love baking but have been refraining from indulging because I’ll eat it all. I did make a batch of scones a few weeks ago and I have been tempted to do some more but have held back. My boarder has decided now is the time to learn to bake so she’s been making banana bread. She did some bran muffins, which she burned and a chocolate cake.

    • JanetDR says:

      That’s me too, I used to bake everything, but I also ate it all! I still have never used a box mix for desserts except the one year my daughter wanted a confetti cake. I have been messing around with going gluten free (messing around = slipping up when it’s more convenient or looks so good I can’t resist) and I haven’t found any flour that works well for me for bread, but quick breads come out okay, but I don’t need more carbs, however delicious. I finally fetched my son from Queens – he was down to tap water and plain pasta so said yes at last. We’re both working from home and have enough room to social distance. First order of business was baking apple crisp and tonight, biscuits!

    • Dazed and Confused says:

      Same here! I love baking but I am by myself so I have not been making anything because I am the only one who can eat it. Much better when I can bake something and take it to work where my coworkers will eat it! I truly enjoy the experience of baking and cooking and sharing what you’ve made is a big component of it. I really love making macarons. Those are definitely in the “hard” column, but when they work it is sooooo satisfying.

      Right now, I’ve limited myself to just cooking my meals from scratch. It’s already hard enough to not gain weight right now. I don’t need a delicious cake or bread beckoning!

      JanetDR — if you want to dabble in gluten free baking, America’s Test Kitchen has a wonderful GF flour blend and their 2 GF cookbooks are really wonderful!

    • lucy2 says:

      Yup. I’ve been craving just pure junk this whole time (except the first week or 2 when I had no appetite). Baking stuff would only make that worse.
      I keep getting ads for edible cookie dough, which is insanely expensive, and it’s making me want cookies.

  10. KBeth says:

    I’ve always loved cooking/baking, definitely doing more of it in recent weeks.
    Homemade bread is comforting, lol.

  11. LindaS says:

    I always baked a lot, cinnamon buns, buns, muffins, cookies, squares and pies were very popular with family and friends. But now not as much. I have been diagnosed as celiac at the age of 65 a couple months ago. And I am having a hard time finding recipes. Plus I have to lose some weight. I prefer making homemade to boughten.

    • Amelie says:

      Omg there are so many recipes out there, my sister has Celiac’s too and my father had to adapt the way he makes his recipes for her. He’s French and his mother baked a lot when he was growing up, therefore he bakes a lot. Bob’s Red Mill gluten free flour mix is the most common you’ll find in stores and the most well known but not everyone loves it. There’s also King Arthur Flour as well that’s readily available. Other brands are Cup4Cup, Better Batter, Pamela’s Products and more brands I do not know… Not to mention the rice flour, tapioca flour, almond flour, coconut flour substitutes, it’s a bit overwhelming. If you can’t find those brands in stores (and if they are available in stores, my guess is they will be in expensive organic grocery stores like Whole Foods), you can usually order them online. In fact I just ordered some Bob’s Red Mill online from their site for my sister because they were not included for grocery delivery.

      There are so many websites out there that specialize in gluten free recipes and gluten free baking. All you gotta do is google “gluten free [insert recipe name here]” and click on the first results that pop up, they tend to be the best. Good luck!

      • Christina says:

        I don’t have celiac, but wheat gives me pretty bad joint inflammation (had to walk with a cane), so I avoid it. I avoid a lot of the gluten free flours (rice, potato) for the same reason. There is a baker who managed to make sourdough bread with sorghum, almond, and coconut flours, but I just haven’t been successful at all. I buy millet flour and noodles. I’m so happy to have gluten-like substitutes for stuff that I can’t tolerate anymore. My cholesterol dropped to normal after I started avoiding wheat, rice, and potato anything and increased my consumption of oils.

        I am one of the fortunate ones who can work from home full time, so I don’t have a lot of time time to try again, but I want to try again soon after seeing the beautiful bread pictures. Making your own sourdough starter is nice because it uses the yeast local to you, and you never need to buy yeast. The starter I made was bubbly, but I still couldn’t get bread right even after carefully following the recipes laid out.

    • Dazed and Confused says:

      I’m so sorry for your diagnosis. My mother has been gluten-free since 1998 for the same reason. Back then, no one had any idea what gluten even was. Now, there are a lot of great recipes, sites, etc. for gluten-free baking. Personally, I really love America’s Test Kitchen’s two cookbooks for GF baking. The front of the book has a lot of great information about the different flours and ingredients you need to substitute and why. Each recipe explains why you might have to do things differently from a four-based recipe.

      Good luck to you!

    • Ellie says:

      Hey there!

      Fellow coeliac here. I am not much of a baker and don’t really enjoy sweet things generally but I’ve been finding some great recipes online for savoury dishes. I made AMAZING gluten free fried chicken –

      I also made Greek style chicken gyros and made the pita bread myself too!

      There are so many great products you can buy but of course take care as GF things will often be loaded with sugar or salt or preservatives to make them taste ‘normal’. Try make as many things as you can from scratch to watch the waistline. You’ll learn how to avoid pitfalls when eating out – shared deep fryers are such a pain.

      You may be sensitive to lactose as well for the first few months while you readjust, especially at your age. Take note if you’re having GI symptoms and if you can relate them to dairy products. Any lactose intolerance will usually wane if it’s related to your Coeliac.

      Also take care around Oats. USA treats them differently to Australia where I live. Here is the statement:
      I personally avoid all oats, even those that claim to be gluten free.

      Best of luck to you!

  12. KellyRyan says:

    Wonderful on the focaccia design, I bake Artisan Bread, purchased 3, 5lb bags prior to Covid-19. My husband bakes a variety of sourdough breads using his own starter, one with bagel seasoning. And yes, the flour shortage appears to continue across the US.

  13. My3cents says:

    Wow, that Challah bread look very professional!
    I love to bake, but I try to limit since I’m the one doing most of the eating.
    There is something very nurturing and satisfying in baking.
    Happy baking everyone!

  14. grabbyhands says:

    Even Paul Hollywood would give that challah good marks!

    I’ve always been a better baker than a cook -baking is really comforting and relaxing to me, but I underestimated how much people would be doing during lock down. I finally found some flour and sugar so I topped off my current stores, but yeast is nowhere to be found, in stores or online. Someone at the grocery store did tell me that regular yeast and pizza yeast are the same thing, so I did pick that up just in case, but I haven’t checked that online. Supposedly they had this information from someone who was a professional baker.

    I’m about to move, but when I get settled in the new place I’d like to try my hand at merengues.

  15. Oliphant says:


  16. Faithmobile says:

    I made cinnamon rolls for Easter and probably would never do it again, too much work for something that is too sweet for seconds. I have been baking sourdough for about 10 years and had to learn how to make starter without rye flour, just ordered some buckwheat flour to experiment with because Gluten gives me headaches. I mentioned in a previous post that the Joy of Cooking’s TExas sheet cake is my forever chocolate cake recipe. I have also renewed my love for fermentation: making sauerkraut and kiefer. The kiefer is amazing for baking it adds tanginess and lift just like buttermilk.

  17. koko says:

    Everything looks amazing. I’ve been baking beer bread, no yeast required, with chunks of pepperoni, hard salami and cheddar cheese. My SO loves it and we often just have slices of it for a meal. My current passion is pickling. I’ve been doing everything from cucumbers, zucchini, red onions to many varieties of peppers. Yum.

  18. Other Renee says:

    After googling “flour shortage,” I discovered that small mills are filling orders to ship. Just ordered a 2.5 lb bag of spelt flour from a mill in Pasadena called Grist and Toll. Here is where you can find a list of mills:

    Yes it’s pricier than you’d pay in the supermarket but I’m ok with that. Actually, I’m excited to try something new and support a small business. They had a nice selection (not everything is in stock) and I’d never heard of most of their products. Time to widen my horizons!

    • lucy2 says:

      The other day I saw a story about a 1000 year old mill in England that still works, and they’ve started running it again!

  19. joanne says:

    You should try the no knead bread recipes. They are delicious, easy to make and use much less yeast as they have a long rise time. You can add many different flavourings such as rosemary, roasted garlic, parmesan cheese and black pepper. Just google no knead bread.

  20. BeeCee says:

    Here’s a recipe for the BEST brownies I have ever had and baked :

    No joke, I curb-sided a couple to a chef friend, and he said they were perfect, and the perfect ratio of butter


    • Esmom says:

      I’m always on the lookout for good brownie recipes. These look really good, thanks. Although I’ve never seen a recipe with both butter and oil. Maybe that’s the key!

  21. MrsBanjo says:

    I make challah (nearly) every Shabbat. Just so you know, it makes GREAT french toast, so if you didn’t like the way the texture turned out, give that a go.

    Also, pouring a brothy stew over day-old bread is always a good idea, and challah is no exception (we do this with dafina).

  22. (TheOG) jan90067 says:

    My grandmother was a CHAMPION baker; I did NOT inherit that gene lol. She made challah every Friday for Shabbat, as well as pies, cookies, cakes…

    Man, I would KILL for freshly baked bread, with a crunchy crust…sigh…

    Kudos to you…those pics are making me DROOL!

    • MrsBanjo says:

      I always have these grandiose ideas of baking all the things for Shabbat. Never happens, lol. I’m lucky that challah even happens. I’ll tell ya, my crockpot was the best purchase ever.

      • (TheOG) jan90067 says:

        😄. I hear ya… I TRIED…really did… it’s like my “black thumb” when I try to grow something… just not in my DNA

  23. TheOriginalMia says:

    My friend is a chef, so she’s been baking a ton. She just perfected Sourdough bread and I got a loaf! Yes!

  24. Esmom says:

    I’m a decent baker as far as cookies, cakes, quick breads and brownies go, but pies and yeast breads are harder for me. I have such a hard time getting yeast recipes to rise properly! I have made a couple yeast recipes that turned out okay — whole wheat bread and cinnamon bread. They’re from these cast iron skillet bread recipes:

    And I made a great sour cream coffee cake earlier this week but instead of chocolate chips, which my son and I both thought sounded weird, I used toasted walnuts:

    I pretty much have never gone wrong with a recipe from Smitten Kitchen, btw.

    • salmonpuff says:

      Smitten Kitchen is my go-to for so many things. I made the peanut butter swirl brownies last week, and they were deadly!

    • Mellie says:

      Deb at Smitten Kitchen is my FAVORITE… I have both her cookbooks. You are correct, you cannot go wrong with anything she puts out there.

    • vegasschmegas says:

      Try a no-knead bread recipe, and cook that in your cast-iron skillet, or cast-iron covered casserole. The bread needs 12 or so hours to set up (I mix mine up before I go to bed) – then it’s just 45 minutes in the oven. The kitchen will smell glorious in the morning, and the bread will come out fantastic. The hubs told me he prefers my bread to the artisan boules I used to buy at the market. He knows which side his homemade bread is buttered on……

    • Anners says:

      Esmom I’m the same. Decent at cakes, cookies, and brownies (even baking powder biscuits) but can’t get bread to rise for the life of me. Thanks for the tips!

  25. fifee says:

    Nope, I hate cooking & baking, have done since I left school many moons ago! OH on the other hand has been baking 1 or 2 things a week and seems to be enjoying it, but I think he’s kinda fed up with that now. I have to say though, I enjoyed eating what he made.

  26. salmonpuff says:

    Those focaccia are gorgeous. I’m a rustic/home baker — I don’t have the patience to make things beautiful!

    I love baking, and for most of the pandemic, we’ve been remodeling our kitchen, so I’ve had to sit on my baking urge. Now that the space is usable, I’ve been making up for lost time! We do Cookie Friday every week, so I’ve kept up the cookie baking. I’ve also made banana bread, a lemon bundt cake, monkey bread, peanut butter brownies and scones. Because I couldn’t find yeast, I made a sourdough starter. I made the first loaf last night. It was OK, but i definitely need to work on my technique!

    Luckily, I have three kids and a tall, skinny husband with a hollow leg, so the stuff gets eaten by somebody besides me!

  27. vegasschmegas says:

    I’ve made a ton of no-knead bread that I bake in a dutch oven. Comes out perfect every time. Lots of different types of dinners (I froze a bunch of stuff from Costco before the lockdown – just need to defrost chicken breasts or ground beef). Lots of misc. baked goods. Taking more liberties because, where is the fam going to go? They’re stuck with me and my kitchen mad skilz…..

  28. TyrantDestroyed says:

    I tend to bake around special times and to celebrate something in my culture. I make my own pizza because my daughter loves it I haven’t bake more than normal because I’m watching my weight but I have cooked dishes that we tend to order from restaurants and that we haven’t been able to eat because they are closed.

  29. Amelie says:

    I grew up with a French father who inherited his cooking gene from his mom, he was and is always baking something, he just made a flan a few days ago, no big deal for him. I would wake up on weekends to find some random pie he had cobbled together in the morning. I mentioned this above but my sister is quarantining with us and has Celiac’s so we’ve been using Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free flour blend and King Arthur Flour in our recipes. I’ve made a few things so far that have all been gluten free: flourless chocolate cake, sweet potato chocolate cake, chocolate banana bread (I have to admit I can’t really taste the bananas lol, there are only 2 bananas in it!), chocolate chip cookies (yes there is a trend here, I REALLY love chocolate), and probably my favorite so far carrot cake . So it’s been fun finding easy recipes to make that require gluten free baking–it adds an extra challenge.

    My sister is getting annoyed with all the gluten free desserts coming her way though because she likes to pretend she doesn’t have a sweet tooth and has proclaimed a moratorium until next week when she’ll make an “olive oil cake.”

    One thing I have no interest in making though is bread. My sister can’t eat it anyways so it’s pretty pointless.

  30. sa says:

    I ran out of eggs pretty early (and I haven’t been to the grocery store since early March), so I haven’t really been baking.

    But I found a cake mix in my pantry, and the internet said I could use applesauce as an egg substitute. Anyway, it came out disgusting (sadly, I ate it anyway). I’m not sure if my cake mix was too old, or if my apple sauce was too old, or if apple sauce just isn’t a good substitute for eggs (the internet did tell me to use less sugar, but not an option when using a cake mix).

    I also found some brownie mix, which I’d be really excited for if the apple sauce substitution had worked out better.

  31. badmuthagoose says:

    I was already big into baking (thank goodness, because I already have like six types of flour in bulk and enough gluten and yeast to last me 10 years), but this has given me a huge opportunity to get even more into it! I’m trying out new breads all the time. (We don’t buy bread from the store anymore.) It’s awesome!

  32. Anners says:

    I’d really like the Amazon posts again – even if I can’t buy anything, I enjoy looking at the neat things and being distracted. Thanks for helping keep our spirits up!

  33. liz says:

    Oh, yes. I have been baking. We get our groceries from a restaurant supply company that has started doing home delivery, so flour and yeast aren’t a problem, but the quantities are a little outrageous (they sell 50lb bags of flour and vanilla extract by the quart). My teenager walked into the kitchen earlier this week to say “You know, my therapist thinks you use baking as a coping mechanism,” as I am putting chocolate chip muffins into the oven and knowing there are the remnants of a blueberry cobbler in the fridge. I repeated this to my best friend, who is a social worker. Her response “I wish some of my clients would bake as a coping mechanism. It would be healthier than what they are doing.”

  34. Giddy says:

    I have been baking more, which I enjoy and gives me a feeling of accomplishment. I have also been watching YouTube videos for recipes to make in multiples, then freeze. The directions give timing for using a hot pot or a slow cooker. So now I have a nice supply of dinners to use and also to give. I love doing that and I think I’ll keep it up even after Covid.