Food | Why are we obsessed with baking?

In recent years, the popularity of baking has skyrocketed. To be an amateur baker is now not only popular, but also fashionable. With shows like ‘The Great British Bake Off’ breaking viewing records in its 4th season and the popularity of up and coming student societies such as Bake Soc, I wonder; why is baking so popular? What will baking try and achieve next?

Firstly, studies have in fact shown that baking makes you a happier person. The therapeutic value of baking a cake could therefore be an influential factor in its popularity; with both the baking process and the comforting outcome of baked goods giving you that warm and fuzzy feeling inside. Secondly, baking is often associated as a very British past time and traditional bakes such as Victoria Sponge and shortbread often evoke feelings of nostalgia and homeliness.  I would also argue, that baking can often be fairly risky, which I see as an exciting prospect. For example, a new untested recipe brings new challenges; baking bread, trying to make a crème pat or a meringue for the first time involves new methods and these attempts could either go surprisingly well or disastrously wrong, leaving you wondering what your creation will look like once it comes out of the oven. In effect, this is the essence of baking; trial and error with a teaspoon of guesswork. This ties in with the fact that baking is accessible to everyone, therefore its popularity stems from the idea anyone can do it. You may argue that there are ‘natural bakers’ out there, but I believe this to be a myth; anyone can bake with the right equipment and attitude.

The popularity of baking is also leading to aspects of it’s reinvention. Baking isn’t limited to traditional sponges and fruitcakes anymore; ‘Bake-Off’ style showstopper bakes prove that the sky is the limit in terms of flavours and constructions. It seems that the current trends of modern baking are the hybrid bakes. First came the cronut; the delectable doughnut- croissant creation and now a whole string of new hybrid bakes are rearing their yummy heads. From the townie (that’s a tart mixed with a brownie) to the muffle (the hilarious sounding muffin waffle), all kinds of Frankenstein-bakes are popping up.  I’m currently testing out a brownie scone and I will call it the scownie- you heard it here first folks.

It appears that baking is becoming an unstoppable culinary force. But how far can baking go? And will the popularity of this ever so loved past time ever wear out? My guess is no. It’s existed since 600 BC, and we’re still making the same cakes and bread that we always have, just in slightly new and more technologically advanced ways. Thus I’m fairly confident it won’t fizzle out just yet.

You can read our review of the Great British Bake Off here

Chloe Brown

Photo: Property of BBC Good Food

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