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Tips For Homebound Bakers

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Many people are feeling more anxious than usual. Meditation apps, yoga and taking a walk are some of the options out there to relieve this pandemic-related stress. But there's another option many Americans are rediscovering as they are confined to their homes - something a little different, something a little more delicious for that daily dose of calm.

CLAIRE SAFFITZ: Just the act of working with my hands and creating something is inherently soothing. So I say that I don't do yoga, but I make bread.

MARTIN: That's Claire Saffitz. She is a freelance recipe developer and video host with Bon Appetit. She says that getting your hands into some dough and away from your phone can help you take your mind off the coronavirus news, giving you both a distraction and something to look forward to.

SAFFITZ: Putting something into the oven and having it come out transformed - to sort of witness that alchemy that happens in the oven between all these ingredients is very kind of reassuring at a time like this.

MARTIN: She's not the only one thinking this way. Hashtags like #stressbaking and #coronavirusbaking are trending on social media as people share pictures of their quarantine cookies and isolation loaves. Saffitz says one of the most popular coronavirus baking projects has been sourdough. And if you've been wanting to try your hand at this artisanal bread yourself, there is no time like the present.

SAFFITZ: It is quite time-consuming, although it's not all active time. But you really do need a big block of time at home where you can tend to a dough over a long period. You're on a dough schedule. The dough is not on your schedule.

MARTIN: Now, if you're a baking novice, and you want something a little less complicated, Saffitz says quick breads and muffins are a good place to start and fairly foolproof. Now, baking of all types has become so popular that many stores are sold out of the basics. Like, white flour, eggs, butter and even yeast have become coveted pantry items. But don't worry - just because there might not be all-purpose flour at the store doesn't mean your culinary dreams are dashed.

SAFFITZ: You could also try to get your hands on other wholegrain flours that are non-wheat - so buckwheat or rye flour or spelt flour, things like that - and experiment a little bit with wholegrain baking.

MARTIN: Saffitz recommends trying these alternative flours in basic recipes like banana bread and chocolate chip cookies. And if you're worried about being able to bake and eat your stress away while also keeping kosher for Passover, which starts on Wednesday evening, she's got something for you, too.

SAFFITZ: A flourless chocolate cake - and instead of butter, it uses coconut oil. And it also has finely shredded coconut in the cake, so it has sort of a chewy consistency similar to a macaroon. The recipe is called BA's best chocolate macaroon cake, and it's on the Bon Appetit website.

MARTIN: And if you're not keeping kosher, sometimes old, simple standards like your tried and true brownie recipe can be the most comforting when baking to relieve stress.

SAFFITZ: What I love about brownies is that they're one bowl. So even though we're all home, no one wants to spend all their time doing dishes, so I like to focus on those kinds of baking projects.

MARTIN: And after that, maybe that walk. That was Claire Saffitz, freelance recipe developer and Bon Appetit video host. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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