Jumping on the coronavirus baking boom: The bread and cookie recipes hitting the headlines

By Gill Hyslop contact

- Last updated on GMT

If you haven't already started, it's time to get baking. Pic: GettyImages/Evgenii Mitroshin
If you haven't already started, it's time to get baking. Pic: GettyImages/Evgenii Mitroshin

Related tags: Real bread campaign, coronavirus, Roberts bakery, NABIM, Flour Advisory Bureau

The coronavirus outbreak has brought out the inner baker in many of us, with the number of people searching ‘bread’ and ‘cookies’ hitting an all-time high and encouraging big brand names to release their treasured recipes.

According to the UK’s Real Bread Campaign, people find baking to be therapeutic, which will be especially prevalent during Mental Health Awareness Week, running in the UK from May 18-24.

The campaign is launching a new area on its website as part of its ongoing Together We Rise initiative.

Sections of the new guide include tips and techniques from industry experts, including:

  • Ian Waterland, a former mental health nurse who now runs the Knead Good Bread microbakery, as well as mindful baking and therapeutic baking classes at The School of Artisan Food
  • Pauline Beaumont, author of Bread Therapy: The Mindful Art of Baking Bread (out this September)
  • Julia Ponsonby, author of The Art of Mindful Baking
  • Simon Cobb, owner of Stoneham Bakehouse in Hove

“Everyone’s way to okay is different and making bread might not be part of yours, but we encourage you to give it a go to find out,”​ said Chris Young, Real Bread Campaign’s coordinator.

Real Bread Campaign ambassador Ian Waterland added, “Making bread is a fundamentally mindful process. It is tactile and incorporates all of the senses. It is productive and satisfying. In short, it can make people feel better.”

Campaign supporter Pauline Beaumont agreed, “Making bread gives ample opportunities for us to be fully present and connected to the physicality of the bread-making process and to have the satisfaction and reassurance of seeing something through from start to golden-crusted finish.”

In his foreword to the Real Bread Campaign’s Rising Up report, GBBO 2012 winner John Whaite called baking ‘a form of pill-less Prozac’.

“There is something about the meditative process of bread making, that is to say, the contemplation of what to do with the dough after the proving processes, that enables me to lift my mood and take control: one of the many powers that I lack when feeling glum,” he​ said.

Easy peasy ...

Another association to rev up the theraputic benefits of baking is The National Association of British and Irish Millers (nabim).

Keeping busy to boost mental health is more important than ever today, however, a recent survey conducted by the founders of FAB Flour found that 24% of non-bakers say that baking takes too much time, while 22% don’t bake because of a lack of energy and 19% find it too difficult.

As such, FAB Flour - the Flour Advisory Bureau - has devised an Easy Peasy Baking campaign to help people add baking to their list of newly-acquired skills during the lockdown.

Staying in and baking doesn’t mean having to order lots of equipment online before you start and the campaign – found on FAB Flour’s website – includes Top Ten Tips and Equipment Swaps to get even the non-baker into the swing.

It also features helpful troubleshooting tips on righting baking wrongs, step-by-step guides to favourite baking basics, a comprehensive conversion chart guide and advice from Great British Bake Off alumni. Recipes include Chocolate Chunk Cookies, Flatbreads with Tzatziki Dip, Cheese Muffins with Sweetcorn & Spinach and Vegan Banana Bread.

Home baking kit

Roberts bakery Get Baking Kit smaller

To make it easier to bake bread at home, Roberts bakery is launching its first-ever home baking kit, which is available at Roberts’ new online shop and delivered to your front door.

The Get Baking Kit – packed in recyclable paper bags – contains everything a budding baker will need to get started on homemade artisan rolls, loaves and pizza bases.

Just add water and oil to the vegan mix – made with Roberts’ flour – combine and knead.

Each 1kg kit makes a large white loaf and 12 white bread rolls; a large white loaf and four pizza bases; or a large white loaf, six white rolls and two pizza bases.

The kits have a shelf life of three months once opened and retail for £8.50.

The bakery is also rolling out is bundle range, including Family Faves, Bakery Explorer, Healthy Hits – also home delivered.

Roberts is the first major bakery brand in the UK to sell directly to shoppers, partnering with national delivery service DPD to offer next day delivery. The baking kits and bundles will also be available for delivery via Uber Eats in Manchester and Leeds.

“Since the pandemic confined millions of us to our homes, I think we’ve reconnected with home baking out of both need and pleasure during what is such a challenging time,” ​said Stuart Spencer-Calnan, MD of Roberts.

“Initially driven by a shortage of wrapped bread, home baking has become a real stress-buster and distraction from what’s going on around us – transforming a few simple ingredients into a beautiful loaf is really satisfying.

“Plans to a introduce a direct to consumer channel have been in development for a while, but we’ve fast-tracked them in response to current consumer requirements – be that on shelf shortages or self-isolation needs.”

Rolling out the iconic recipes

BakeryandSnacks reported last month how DoubleTree by Hilton was capitalising on the baking boom by releasing its official recipe for the brand’s iconic chocolate chip cookie, with which guests of its global hotels are presented on arrival.

Since then, the world wide web has lit up with a raft of similar shares from big name brands, including:

Stouffer’s French Bread Pizza

Stouffer's

The brand released its first variant in the 1970s and has thereafter released numerous flavours, including Cheese, Pepperoni, Hawaiian and even Cheeseburger with Relish. Now Stouffer’s is sharing a simple recipe to prepare its French Bread Pizza at home. 

Arnott’s releases secret recipes

The Australian biscuit giant has published the recipes for several of its iconic biscuits under its #BakeTogether campaign, including Monte Carlo biscuits, Iced VoVo biscuits and Scotch Fingers.

Pret a Manger’s gooey cookie​s

Although Pret a Manger closed many of its stores due to the outbreak – like many other food outlets – it’s not denying its fans the taste of its popular products, which now can be baked at home. The company has shared a recipe for its dark chocolate chunk cookies, along with its dark chocolate vegan cookies, on its website.

Subway at home

Subway is another brand to release recipes for its famous dishes. The sandwich brand has created a series of videos with online food platform Tastemade UK, including how to make Herbs & Cheese Bread, filled with Meatball Marinara, Chicken Teriyaki or Chipotle Southwest Sauce, and followed up with its Double Chocolate Cookie.

If you haven't already started, it's time to get baking! Let us know if you want any of the recipes.

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