With most of us stuck at home during the pandemic, a baking craze is sweeping the nation.
As Ireland and the UK join large swathes of Europe in another (hopefully much shorter) lockdown, we’ve been getting to grips with some ideas for how to pass the time at home for the next few weeks. You may be hunkered down in splendid isolation looking for a new skill to acquire or you might be in a house full of little ones and grappling with how to entertain and feed your brood as you all clamber over each other.
Whether you are a complete novice or simply hoping to stay on top of lockdown trends, lets make like bread and rise to the challenge. Here are a few simple ideas that might help you get started.
PREPARE IN ADVANCE
Being prepared is always a good idea, no matter what your circumstances but it is even more necessary if there are impatient ‘helpers’ on hand. Start with the basics of making sure you have the necessary ingredients and equipment… there was a shortage of flour back in March and April so keeping a cupboard of the basics on hand can be a good idea.
If you are baking with young kids, go a step further and have the ingredients pre-weighed and measured out in advance of letting the kids loose. If you have older children or pre-teens, the job of measuring can be delegated in place of today’s maths home-schooling lesson!
STICK WITH A FEW RELIABLES
One of our lockdown staples was pineapple upside-down cake. It’s an old recipe, but easy to prepare and it is absolutely delicious. To mix it up, we substituted fresh peaches, plums or kiwi fruit for the pineapple depending on what was on hand. With fresh fruit, add some fruit juice to the recipe to loosen the batter mix.
Another crowd pleaser – and less indulgent, though no less delicious, are oat flapjacks. Use rolled oats, brown sugar, honey, real churned butter and then add to suit your taste; raisins, sultanas chopped dried apricots, dates, chocolate chips, nuts. A mere fifteen minutes in the oven. Easy to slice into strips or squares and will store for up to a week – assuming they last that long.
A final one from foodeezz – rediscover the simplicity of pancakes! Whisk two eggs in a large mixing bowl with eight heaped tablespoons of plain flour, a pinch of salt and sufficient milk (dairy or non) to create the consistency of paint. Leave to rest while setting up a lightly buttered pan on a medium to hot heat. Aim for thin and golden brown. Flip or turn, then fold out onto a plate for warming in a low oven until you have enough to go round.
BAKING TRENDS, ANYONE?
Banana bread has been decidedly uninteresting to most for decades, but the pandemic gave rise to a baking craze that swept the nation. Equally, no household was complete without a sourdough starter taking up shelf space in the fridge.
Some trends are ones you might be inspired to try out, but consider your stress levels in these uncertain times. We’ve been opting for short cuts by buying some of the baking kits and mixes that are available from artisan bakers to help us on our way.
MAKE IT A SOCIAL EVENT
Set up a friend or two on zoom and do a joint bakery session – great for comparing notes, though watch out for cake envy as your creation unveils itself in all its brilliance…