Quarantine baking—it’s more than just a trend now. Although there’s no denying that plenty of people have turned to cooking and baking to fill their otherwise monotonous lives while they’re stuck at home, baking has become so much more than that.
For many, it’s become their new go-to hobby. A new passion of theirs, almost. It’s become a way to relax, unwind, and cope through tough times, like a version of therapy even. And they’re not wrong. Other than being a productive pastime, baking has many psychological benefits, such as mindfulness, a form of meditation, and a means to express love and appreciation for other people.
If you’ve been eager to pick up on this trend or are just looking for something new to pass the time with, here are some things you should be aware of before you get started.
Get the Right Equipment
Most homes will already have an oven, and if you’re lucky enough to live in one of those homes, then great! This step is already half-done. Before you celebrate, though, you want to check the condition of your oven. How long have you had it? How often do you use it? How long has it been since it’s last been used? Test out its condition first, and if you detect any problems with it, have it brought to an appliance repair shop immediately. If it appears to be working, then you’re good to go.
If you don’t have an oven, getting one is probably the first thing at the top of your to-do list. If you plan to go into baking as a long-term project or hobby, get an oven that’s of good quality, from a trusted brand, and that’ll last for a long time yet. Depending on where you get them, they might be pricier, but look at it as a long-term investment. If you can’t get an oven for whatever reason, there are plenty of no-bake recipes and kitchen hacks that you can look up online.
Other than an oven, you’ll also need measuring cups and spoons, a rubber spatula, baking pans, a whisk or a mixer, and piping bags.
Canvass for Ingredients and Prices in Your Local Shops
Before you decide on a recipe, find out what kind of ingredients your nearest grocery store sells. Depending on where you live, you might have trouble finding certain ingredients. High-quality ingredients, like the ones used by professional pastry chefs in gourmet restaurants, might not be available in your regular old grocery store. It’s best not to set your sights too high. You also want to check what you can feasibly afford. Suppose a recipe calls for a specific kind of ingredient or brand. In that case, you need to check its availability and its price, especially if that ingredient is integral to the overall recipe.
If your local grocery store doesn’t carry that brand or ingredient, look for affordable and easily attainable substitutes. Most home recipes will recommend substitutes in case, so it’s helpful to look for recipes that already have those listed.
Look for Tried-and-Tested Recipes
It’s easy to look up any old recipe online. But if you’re a novice baker, you probably want to be wary of which recipes work and which don’t, especially if it’s for something you’ve never tried or have no experience with. Most recipes on blogs or those on YouTube will have comments sections or a section for reviews. Look for those with many positive comments and reviews—even better if those reviews have pictures of the finished product.
As a general rule of thumb, always look for pictures or videos within the recipe itself so you know what it’ll look like. Take recipes with only written instructions and no picture examples with a grain of salt. You want to know what you’re making and if it’ll work before you set out to do it. You also want to look up how difficult a recipe will be if a newbie baker like yourself can do it quickly or if the recipe requires a little more technical skill. It’s best to stick to basic recipes like chocolate chip cookies or brownies before you try your hand at more complicated ones. When you already have more experience with baking can go to the next level and experiment with different birthday cake recipes.
You’re Going to Make a Lot of Mistakes—and That’s Okay
One major challenge any beginner baker faces is the ever-humbling question of “will it be good?” Of course, you want whatever you’re baking to turn out perfect in terms of taste, texture, and look. But since you’re a beginner, you might not have everything down pat just yet. Many factors—from the ingredients you use, the recipe, to the time spent in an oven—can contribute to a recipe not turning out as well as planned. You might be disappointed when your first cake doesn’t look at all like the one shown in the recipe book.
But that’s okay. Mistakes are bound to happen no matter how careful you are. Accept that not everything always turns out as planned and take them all in stride. Learn from what you did wrong in previous recipes and strive to do better in your next one. One bad cake, brownie, or cookie isn’t the end of the world. If anything, that’s just the start.
Always remember why you set out to bake in the first place. Are you doing it for yourself? As a way to relax? Do you bake for your loved ones, or are you looking for another skill that you can monetize? Whatever the case, don’t lose sight of it and don’t let one bad experience deter you from any more attempts. Baking should be fun and liberating, above everything else, and there is no prouder moment than when you come out with something great and delicious.