More bread, please! People are baking tons of the flaky stuff while staying home.
You may not see it, but it's there, in kitchens across the country ... and it keeps getting bigger.
We're talking about that bread dough sitting in your kitchen, doubling in size, or that sourdough starter going strong in the fridge. The intoxicating smell of freshly baked bread fills the air in homes across the land and pictures of these baked delights are filling social media like it’s the next best thing since, well, sliced bread.
So, why are we baking so much bread? Well, partly due to the boredom, partly due to the lack of selection at grocery stores, and partly due to the comfort it provides. Bread baking is a process and often takes several hours, so simply having a project to do may also be part of the appeal.
According to research done a few years ago by a team of Irish scientists, the smell of bread is a trigger for us, eliciting positive memories from our childhoods—a Pavlovian response. Bread is connected to positive feelings, and the smell makes us feel good and hungry. After consuming a fresh-baked loaf, we feel satisfied, full, and comforted, so it's no surprise that, as we're experiencing an unprecedented time in our lives, bread would be one of the comfort foods we turn to.
According to the UCD Institute of Food and Health researcher Dr. Amalia Scannell who worked on the study, it is a combination of our senses and emotions that makes bread so loved:
“Bread is such a powerful trigger largely due to brain anatomy,” Dr. Scannell said in the Irish Times. "Incoming smells are first processed by the olfactory bulb, which starts inside the nose and runs along the bottom of the brain. The olfactory bulb has direct connections to the two brain areas that are strongly implicated in emotion and memory.”
It's not just evident by pictures shared on social media and our growing waistlines that bread is hot right now, there's a potential for a flour and yeast shortage. It's not holiday baking season, yet the shelves look like everyone made a mad dash for anything they could find that could possibly be part of bread dough. Red Star Yeast, based in the United States, said that it has experienced a demand for its products that is “simply unprecedented.” As they work to stock stores across the country, products fly off the shelves just as quickly.
Stores have started to limit purchases of baking products, and Ardent Mills—based in Denver, Colorado—is the nation’s biggest flour miller and has boosted flour production to meet the need. There's no shortage of supply, they say, simply a higher demand for their products.
Google Trends reports that bread recipe searches have increased, with people becoming very interested in what they can make in their own ovens. Bakeries and local restaurants have started baking and selling fresh-baked bread, and it's clear the love affair we have with the buttery, flaky, delicious stuff is not ending anytime soon.
If you're looking for a recipe or two to try, check out these bread recipes from our food and drink section:
What bread are you baking right now? Or are you on the other side of it and avoiding the carbs? We want to hear all about how bread has played a role in your coronavirus self-isolation. Share your recipes, thoughts, and of course perfectly baked bread pictures in the comments.