How We’re Baking Our Way Through Quarantine

Baking relaxes us, feeds us and makes us happy. Find out how our readers and staffers are kneading, rolling, frosting and baking their way though this pandemic.

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Kneading dough for giant cinnamon roll 197738
Taste of Home

Why We’re Turning to Baking

With most of us are staying in, we’re faced with extra time, hungry bellies and more stress. The cure for these conditions, we’ve found, is baking.

Rolling up our sleeves in the kitchen helps us relax, it lets us focus on something other than the news and it brings joy to our loved ones that are sheltering in place alongside us.

See how our Taste of Home crew, our Bakeable members and other home bakers are dealing with these uncertain times. Hint: It involves a lot of bread and some gorgeous Bundt cakes.

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Heather Kowalewski/Facebook

Making Homemade Bread

More than ever before, people are putting on their aprons and making homemade yeast bread. Bakeable member Heather Kowalewski kneaded together this crusty French loaf and topped it with sesame seeds.

“It’s super easy and delicious,” she says. “Later, I sliced it and made garlic bread on the grill. It’s important to still get a little fresh air!”

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Jessica Silva Clary/Facebook

Taking the Bakeable Challenge

Every month, Bakeable, Taste of Home’s baking community, hosts a baking challenge. This April, we challenged folks to bake up a gorgeous lemon Bundt cake. Reader Jessica Silva Clary ran with this challenge, finishing her cake with even more lemon zest. It’s super lemony and perfect alongside a comforting cup of tea.

You can join our baking community and keep busy with recipes, baking tips and inspiration from other bakers.

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Lisa Kaminski/Taste of Home

Working on Time-Consuming Bakes

Typically whipping up bread during the week—particularly something like this chocolate babka with its overnight proof—isn’t in the cards. Now, though, putting this decadent bread together any day of the week is a possibility.

Associate Editor Lisa Kaminski put these two loaves together while sheltering in place. “It’s nice to have a longer project to keep you occupied,” she says. “And I had time to experiment a bit with the recipe: I added chopped walnuts to the filling in one—turned out delicious!”

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Julie Herrera-Lemler/Facebook

Baking for Now and Later

Bakeable member Julie Herrera-Lemler shared that when she was zesting and juicing lemons for lemon bars, she also juiced a little extra. “Freeze lemon juice in ice cube trays,” she suggests. Zest can be frozen or dried, too, so you can bake more lemon treats later.

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Shannon Norris

Trying Trendy Bakes

Gorgeous foccacia bread has been trending on the internet recently. With a little extra time at home to be creative, many bakers are trying their hand at the trend, including Taste of Home’s own senior food stylist, Shannon Norris.

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Katie Bandurski/Taste of Home

Going Bonkers for Banana Bread

Banana bread just might be the unofficial bake of this season of self-isolation. We all have the best intentions buying that big bunch of bananas, but can’t seem to finish them all before they get a little too ripe.

Luckily, overripe bananas make for excellent baking. Assistant Editor Katie Bandurski baked up this loaf of chocolate chip banana bread with a few bananas she had leftover plus pantry staples. “And who doesn’t like a slice of warm banana bread?” she asks.

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Kallee Krong-McCreery/Facebook

Using What We Have

When you’re not making regular grocery store runs, many home bakers are using what they have already—sometimes even from the recesses of their cupboards and freezers.

Kallee Krong-McCreery, a Bakeable member, shared her three-berry pie with crumb topping. “I made this with berries I had on hand in the freezer,” she shared. If you have fruit taking up space in your freezer, try these recipes that start with frozen fruit.

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Sarah Fischer/Taste of Home

Making One Recipe Many Ways

Just because you make a big batch bread recipe doesn’t mean you need to make multiple identical loaves. It’s a great time to be inventive and see what else you can do with some of the dough.

Taste of Home Culinary Assistant Sarah Fischer took our basic homemade bread recipe and made one loaf of bread and turned the other portion into garlic knots. Roll the dough into ropes, knot and let rise. After baking, roll in a mix of olive oil, herbs and parmesan cheese.

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Courtney Wethington/Facebook

Still Celebrating

Sure, we’re all staying in, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t things to celebrate. Bakeable member Courtney Wethington baked up this miniature birthday cake—perfect for smaller celebrations.

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Jenni Pittard/Facebook

Tackling Our Baking Bucket Lists

Bakeable member Jeni Pittard worked on sourdough bread. “Here’s my first attempt,” she shares. They look amazing and definitely inspire us to take on our baking bucket lists.

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Christina Herbst/Taste of Home

Baking Everyday Treats

Everyone needs something to snack on after a long day of working from home or homeschooling the kids. Assistant Editor Christina Herbst whipped up a batch of peanut butter kiss cookies as a treat to herself. “Confession: They’re almost gone.”

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Mike Rozumalski/Taste of Home

Making Smaller Versions of Our Favorites

Right now, making our favorite desserts can seem like a bit much. Not everyone wants a three-layer cake taking up space on the counter—and certainly not every family can finish one in time.

The solution: small versions of the classics. Taste of Home Video Producer Mike Rozumalski didn’t make a full-scale bunny cake this year. Instead, he opted for a half-batch of cupcakes. Just as adorable, though!

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Jayanthy Asokan/Facebook

Treating Ourselves

Let’s be honest: Life is challenging right now and we could all use a little pick-me-up. Bakeable contributor Jayanthy Asokan shared this photo of her fudgy brownies. “Who says no to a rich, decadent fudgy brownie?” she asks.

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Catherine Ward/Taste of Home

Trying Breads without Yeast

While everyone seems to be getting into the yeast bread game, not everyone has yeast on hand. Taste of Home’s prep kitchen manager, Catherine Ward, explains that you can still make a fresh loaf at home.

“I made two versions of honey beer bread,” she says. “They use just a few simple pantry ingredients,”—and yeast isn’t one of them. All you need for this bread is self-rising flour (here’s how to make your own self-rising flour), sugar, honey and beer.

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James Schend/Facebook

Turning to Old Favorites

In times of stress, reflecting on fond memories and reaching for comforts can be a big help. Deputy Editor James Schend baked up blueberry muffins recently—a memory of good times.

James recalls visiting his grandparents in Massachusetts every summer and stopping in a department store with his grandfather. “To this day. I remember the women behind the counter wearing those polyester dresses with a zipper up the front and hairnets in place. They would pack the muffins in a cardboard box,” he says. “Since then, every time, I eat a blueberry muffin I’m reminded of Grandpa.”

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Nicole Doster/Taste of Home

Making Extra Fun Bakes (Just Because)

We all could use a bit of cheering up these days. A great way to do this is to make your go-to bakes just a little jazzier than normal. Senior Editor Nicole Doster rolled this top-rated sugar cookie dough in rainbow sprinkles. These cookies, which are great alongside your morning work-from-home coffee, are now 100% more fun.

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Akemi Aoki/Facebook

Getting the Kids Involved

Got kids at home? Get them involved in the kitchen! There are lots of small tasks that kids can tackle, like washing fruit or crushing graham crackers or even kneading bread. This will keep them busy, involved and teach them valuable skills.

“I made this challah bread with my six-year-old,” Bakeable member Akemi Aoki explained. “He had fun braiding it and said it was yummy—guess he really meant it because he devoured two whole slices in record time!”

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Danielle Dykman/Facebook

Trying New Techniques

With more time indoors, there’s more time to experiment in the kitchen. Bakeable member Danielle Dykman shared how she experimented with frosting to create these unicorn-inspired cupcakes for her daughter.

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Lisa Kaminski/Taste of Home

Cracking Open a New Cookbook

Have your eye on a new cookbook? Or maybe have one on the shelf that hasn’t gotten enough love? Now is the perfect time to look through the pages for inspiration.

Associate Editor Lisa Kaminski has been working through Midwest Made by Shauna Sever. This cookie brittle is one of many tasty recipes inside.

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Heather Streetman/Facebook

Baking Together (Just Remotely)

Bakeable member Heather Streetman shares that while staying in, her daughter texted her for a banana bread recipe. “I decided to make one too. It was like we were baking buddies even though we weren’t together,” she says.

Keeping these connections with loved ones is important while we’re sheltering in place. If you can, try to go beyond a call or text. Seeing a face through video calls is a great way to bond.

Lisa Kaminski
Lisa is a former Taste of Home editor and passionate baker. During her tenure, she poured her love of all things sweet (and sometimes savory) into Bakeable, Taste of Home's baking club. Lisa also dedicated her career here to finding and testing the best ingredients, kitchen gear and home products for our Test Kitchen-Preferred program. At home, you'll find her working on embroidery and other crafts.