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The Psychology of 'Stress Baking'

Why so many are making bread in 2020

I didn't used to spend my Saturday nights mercilessly beating up on a lump of bread dough. Yet two weeks ago, after a stressful stretch at work, I found myself at 8 p.m., wrist-deep in what would become two round, golden-brown loaves of Cuban bread. For eight minutes, I kneaded, quickly and forcefully shoving the heels of my hands into the dough, sprinkling flour on the butcher block, savoring the smell of the yeast and feeling a little bit better about everything in this chaotic world, at least for a moment. 

I was clearly stress baking. It's something I've witnessed friends doing, and that I've done myself from time to time. In college, classmates made cookies instead of studying for exams. When I started at CNET, I used to roll into the office with cupcakes or pumpkin bread before the frenzy of big Apple product reveals, more for my own benefit than my co-workers.'

In 2020, however, stress baking has become even more of a thing than it already was, revealing itself in the loaves and loaves of bread rising all over social media. Quickly after lockdown, talk of sourdough starter and the scarcity of yeast became another quirk of the novel coronavirus pandemic, like the run on hand sanitizer and toilet paper. 

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