I’ve long been a fan of baking, finding it a particularly satisfying form of stress relief. As someone who works with words, it’s nice to occasionally spend an hour or two at work on a project and have something tangible—and edible—to show for my efforts.
At the beginning of the pandemic, I—along with the kids under my roof—were among those turning to baking more than usual, for comfort and distraction. In the early days we were decidedly ambitious: once we finally got our hands on some yeast, I made homemade pitas and brioche and cakes and cookies galore. My daughters baked every single day for weeks.
To routinize our baking efforts, last summer I started choosing one special item to bake each weekend to enjoy on Sunday morning. This new ritual began in an effort to increase the appeal of online church during the pandemic, but we quickly came to love it for its own sake.
We vary our menu from week to week, depending on our moods, energy levels, and what happens to be in the fridge: we’ve baked breads and muffins and cakes, though sometimes we take the week off from baking and we grab bagels or donuts at a local shop, or cook up a frittata or chilaquiles.
A few of our favorite recipes include:
• Poppy seed cake. I add lemon zest plus a little juice, and bake mine in a loaf pan.
• Cheddar dill scones. We’ve been baking these for YEARS and they never get old.
• Banana bread of all sorts and stripes. This brown butter banana bread with nutella was the biggest hit. (Subscription necessary: I’ve heavily relied on the NYT baking app this past year.)
• Apple cider donuts (pictured above)—though we just baked them in muffin tins.
• Star bread. Delicious made with cinnamon sugar, nutella, or raspberry jam.
• Key lime pie. Disclaimer: we never ate for breakfast (or at least, haven’t yet) but I just made my first pie of the season last weekend and it was SO GOOD. I had to share.
We know we’re not the only ones baking for comfort and camaraderie during the pandemic. I’d love to hear about your experience: have you baked differently this past year, or established any special food-related traditions? Tell us in the comments!