Pandemic baking: Easy recipes to unleash your inner baker

February 9, 2021 - 6:43 PM
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This composite photo shows fluffy yellow cake and marbled chocolate brioche loaf (Joy of Baking/Released)

When the pandemic was declared in March last year, people worldwide were forced to stay at home that later drove them to discover new passions and hobbies such as planting, finishing online courses, baking, among others.

In the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte placed the country under enhanced community quarantine that only allowed citizens who work in essential services to go out.

During that period, baking also boomed with some turning it into their own businesses.

On March 27 last year, CNBC reported that the hashtag #stressbaking garnered over 26,000 posts on Instagram, while #quarantinebaking had nearly 12,000 with people sharing their new found love for baking online.

The Sugar Association, scientific voice of the U.S. sugar industry, said that in its May 2020 survey, both men and women are involved in the trending baking conversation on social media (58% female, 42% male) with almost 50% of the audience is between the ages of 18 to 24.

“Many people who have never baked before are also testing their kitchen skills. First-time bakers are a significant part of the conversation with over 263,700 social media mentions of first-time baking during the first week of May,” it reported.

It also reported that sugar and flour sales in the US have jumped by 130% and 221%, respectively compared to May 2019, according to Winsight Grocery data.

In the CNBC report,  Valerie Van Galder, the CEO of the Depressed Cake Shop Foundation, an organization that raises money for mental health issues with baking events said “baking and sharing baked goods can be a valuable tool in one’s mental health self care kit.”

The report also noted that another “surprising benefit to baking through the coronavirus pandemic the sense of community it has created.”

In view of this new home cooking trend, Joy of Baking, a brand under the Agri Pacific Corporation, which is under the Rebisco Group of Companies reintroduced its products which make baking easier for the public.

The brand uses Swiss and German milling technology to produce products that can make baking easier and tastier for its consumers.

“The Bread Flour is ideal for warm treats and other bread-type products like loaves and buns while the Cake Flour is perfect for creating moist batter-type cakes,” it said.

It also has other products such as all-purpose flour for banana bread and chocolate chip cookies, as well as a complete bread mix perfect for pandesal, Spanish bread and ensaymada because of its all-in-one formula and free pack of yeast.

If you are planning on jumping into the baking trend, the brand shared two easy recipes of fluffy yellow cake and marbled chocolate brioche load you can try out:

Fluffy Yellow Cake

Fluffy yellow cake (Joy of Baking/Released)

Ingredients:

For the cake

  • 2 ½ cups of  cake flour
  • 1 ¼ tsp of baking powder
  • ¼ tsp of baking soda
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 1 ¾ cup of granulated sugar
  • 1 cup of buttermilk
  • 10 tbsp of unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp of vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • A pinch of cream tartar

For the frosting

  • 20 tbsp of unsalted butter
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • ¾ cup of Dutch-processed cocoa
  • ¾ cup of light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 8 oz of milk, bittersweet or semisweet chocolate

Instructions:

For the cake

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease two (2) 9-inch round pans, then line with parchment paper and grease the parchment paper. Flour the pans right after.
  3. In a mixing bowl, whisk in Joy of Baking Cake Flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and 1 1/2 cup sugar together in a large bowl. Then in a medium bowl, whisk together, oil, vanilla, and egg yolks.
  4. Using a stand mixer fitted with whisk on medium-low speed, whip in egg whites and cream tartar for about 1 minute. Then, increase speed to medium-high and whip whites to soft billowy mounds for about another minute. Gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar and whip until glossy, stiff peaks around 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  5. In a separate mixer bowl, add flour mixture.
  6. Using a rubber spatula, stir one-third of whites into the batter, then add the remaining two-thirds of whites and gently fold into batter until no white streaks remain. Divide batter evenly between prepared pans, smooth tops with a rubber spatula, and gently tap pans on the counter to release air bubbles.
  7. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean 20 to 22 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking. Let cakes cool in pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove cakes from pans, discard parchment, and let cool completely, about 2 hours, before frosting. (Cakes can be wrapped tightly with plastic wrap and kept at room temperature for up to 1 day. Wrapped tightly in plastic, then aluminum foil. Cakes can be frozen for up to 1 month. Defrost cakes at room temperature before unwrapping and frosting.)

For the frosting

  1. Process butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a food processor until smooth, about 30 seconds, scraping down the bowl as needed. Add corn syrup and vanilla and process until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Scrape down the bowl, then add chocolate and process until smooth and creamy, 10 to 15 seconds (Frosting can be kept at room temperature for up to 3 hours before frosting cake or refrigerated for up to 3 days. If refrigerated, let stand at room temperature for 1 hour before using.)
  2. Line edges of the cake platter with 4 strips of parchment paper to keep the platter clean. Place 1 cake layer on the prepared platter. Place about 1 ½ cups of frosting in the center of the cake layer right to the edge of cake. Place the second cake layer on top, making sure layers are aligned, then frost top in the same manner as the first layer, this time spreading frosting until slightly over edge. Gather more frosting on top of spatula and gently spread icing onto the side of the cake. Smooth frosting by gently running edge of spatula around cake and leveling ridge that forms around top edge or create billows by pressing back of spoon into frosting and twirling spoon as you lift away. Carefully pull-out pieces of parchment from beneath the cake before serving. (Assembled cake can be refrigerated for up to 1 day. Bring to room temperature before serving.)

Marbled Chocolate Brioche Loaf

Marbled chocolate brioche loaf (Joy of Baking/Released)

Ingredients:

For the dough

  • 3 tbsp of bread flour
  • ½ cup of milk
  • 2 ½ tsp of active or instant yeast
  • 2 ½ cup of bread flour
  • 7 tbsp of unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup of sugar
  • ½ tsp of salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 tsp of finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp dark rum
  • For the chocolate enrichment:
  • 1 tbsp water
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • A pinch of ground cinnamon
  • 1/12 oz of bittersweet chocolate

Instructions:

You will need one 9 x 5 x 3-inch (23 x 13 x 7 cm) loaf pan buttered and the bottom lined with a rectangle of parchment of buttered wax paper cut to fit.

  1. To make the brioche dough, heat the milk in a small saucepan until just lukewarm, about 11o F (45 C). Pour the milk into a small rubber spatula to stir in 1 cup of Joy of Baking Bread Flour thoroughly. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 20 minutes. The mixture will become bubbly and somewhat risen.
  2. Combine the butter, sugar, salt, egg, egg yolk, lemon zest, and rum in a mixer bowl fitted with the dough hook attachment. Knead until the butter is evenly distributed through-out the resulting liquid. At this point the mixture may appear separated – it will come together soon as some of the flour is added.
  3. Add the remaining flour and knead again until the flour is completely incorporated, and the mixture is smooth. Use a thin-bladed metal spatula to scrape down the inside of the bowl. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
  4. Invert the bowl over a floured work surface to turn out the dough. Use a bench scraper to fold the dough over on itself 5 to 6 times, adding pinches of flour if necessary, until it is slightly more elastic. Use a bench scraper or knife to divide the dough into 3 equal pieces.
  5. Return one piece of the dough to the bowl. Cover the remaining pieces of dough with a dish towel or plastic wrap.
  6. To prepare the Chocolate Enrichment, combine the water, baking soda, and cooled chocolate. Scrape the chocolate mixture into the food processor bowl and pulse 3 to 4 times to incorporate. Add the flour and pulse continuously for 10 seconds or until the dough is smooth. Invert the food processor bowl over a floured work surface to turn out the dough. Carefully remove the blade and transfer any dough on it to the surface. Use a bench scraper to fold the chocolate dough over on itself 5 to 6 times, adding pinches of flour if necessary until it is slightly more elastic.
  7. Flour a cutting board and set it aside. Press one of the pieces of the plain dough into a 5-inch square and place it on the cutting board. Repeat with the remaining piece of plain dough. The square and the stacking do not need to be perfectly precise.
  8. Use a knife or a bench scraper to cut the stacked dough into 3 strips each about 1 ¾ inches wide. Then cut across one of the strips making ten ½ inch pieces. Slide the cut pieces of dough into a bowl. Repeat the remaining strip of dough.
  9. Slide your hands, palms upward, under the pieces of dough in the bowl and toss them gently a few times like a salad.
  10. Sprinkle the pieces of dough in the bowl with 1 tsp of water to make them slightly sticky. Gently press and squeeze the dough together into a cohesive ball. Inver the dough onto a floured work surface and press it into a thick 4 x 8-inch rectangle. Place the rectangle of dough in the prepared pan and gently press it to fill the pan completely.
  11. Cover the pan with buttered plastic wrap and let the dough rise about 1 inch over the top of the pan, for 1 to 2 hours. Depending on the temperature of the room.
  12. About 20 minutes before the loaf is fully risen, set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 F (180 C).
  13. Bake the loaf until it is well risen and deep golden, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool the loaf in the pan on a rack for 5 minutes then unmold it and finish cooling it on its side to prevent it from compressing and becoming heavy.

—Rosette Adel