Why are so many of you baking bread during the coronavirus lockdown?

These days, when you look at many of your friends’ instagram posts, there is a good chance that a lot of them are pictures of loaves of bread they have baked at home. 

During the coronavirus lockdown across Europe, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find flour at shops and supermarkets.

One possible reason is the disruption to supply chains, caused by the lockdown. 

Another reason could be that confined citizens are turning their kitchens into amateur bakeries.In fact, around the world, Google searches for bread recipes and baking tips are on the rise, and that is turning baking supplies into precious commodities.

Internet searches for bread recipes and baking tips are on the riseGoogle

The Spanish government recently reported that flour sales have quadrupled, during the third week of the country’s COVID-19 lockdown. In the UK, flour producers have doubled production, but are still struggling to meet the demand. In France, flour sales are up by an estimated 140%.

Cooking and baking are known to have comforting, anti-stress effects. Bread, especially sourdough, demands patience, knowledge and a fair amount of skill. But when we do manage to produce a decent loaf with just flour, water and salt, like our ancestors, it becomes a thing of pride. 

We asked two longtime bread advocates and master bakers – Australia’s Dan Lepard, and Spain’s Iban Yarza – what they think of the current, global, baking pan-demic, and the possible reasons behind it.

Dan Lepard | “The lockdown is improving our skills for life”

[Besides being a baker, Lepard is a chef, author, and TV presenter. Lately, he has been flooded with messages and requests for advice from people who have taken to the oven.]

Baking bread potentially offers stress-relief if you start simply and continue to bake to the point of success. It’s offers a glimpse into the workings of “cognitive behaviour therapy” that strengthens your problem-solving skills in a somewhat manageable way.

However, this coronavirus crisis has highlighted how many people have no skills whatsoever in baking, yet were ready to buy all the flour and yeast they could and somehow give it a go. 

As a baker working in a media bubble, my interaction has always been with people who either want to bake or can bake, who follow and are interested in me because I share their curiosity about baking.Until now. 

Suddenly I get messages, photos, questions every hour of the day on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook. And many are panicked requests because they’ve realised they are out of their depth when tasked with baking a simple loaf of bread. Modern life, and television too, has encouraged us to believe that the simple things in life – like baking bread – must be intrinsically easy or else we’re doing them wrong.

I’m hoping that this prolonged lockdown period will encourage people to look at manual labour and skills with more respect.

Dan Lepard 

The truth – that simple is complex – is not a truth we’re ready to believe, and many will bounce through all the google links they find desperately, looking for the recipe that makes that apparently simple task easy. You hear phrases like “well bread baking must be easy, my grandmother did it every week and she had no education”, itself a damning statement, showing how ignorant we are to the benefits of skills in life.

I’m hoping that this prolonged lockdown period will encourage people to look at manual labour and skills with more respect and appreciation. Even if we don’t come out of it immediately with a newfound ability to say bake bread, or mend clothes, or even clean our houses, I hope we’re on the road to understanding how we can be better at our lives.

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