For the last few months, baking seems to be the new pastime for people in quarantine. In fact, the hashtag #quarantinebaking has gone viral. Perhaps it’s the mindfulness people achieve while in the kitchen, or maybe it’s that we’re all needing some comfort food during these times. Either way, we reached out to some of AISB’s secondary teachers to get their favorite recipes.

Billi Jones

“I love to bake. I have to hold back from baking every day because we don’t need that many homemade temptations! I love baking because I can create something beautiful and delicious. I also like knowing I made what we’re enjoying. I often bake up a cake, pie, or cookies and freeze them for us to have as a treat later on. I also like to experiment with a recipe until I get it perfect — this can be good and bad.

I used to own a bakery/cafe, where we served breakfast and lunch. We did a lot of delivery and catered for the businesses and hospitals near the cafe, but also had seats inside. I first learned to bake from my dad. He loved to cook and bake and I got my love of the kitchen from him. The first recipe he taught me to make were these biscuits — they’re a lot like a scone.”

Billi’s Biscuits:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • ¾ cup butter or 1/2 cup butter and 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup cold milk

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. 

In a large bowl stir together the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and cream of tartar. 

Using a pastry blender, or your finger tips, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. 

Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. 

Add milk all at once. 

Using a fork, stir just until moistened and dough comes together. 

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. 

Knead dough by folding and gently pressing dough just until dough holds together. 

Pat or lightly roll dough until 3/4 inch thick. 

Cut dough with a floured 2-1/2-inch biscuit cutter, rerolling scraps as necessary. Or use a knife and cut into squares, or triangles.

Place biscuits 1 inch apart on an ungreased baking sheet. 

Bake for 10 to 14 minutes or until golden. 

Remove biscuits from oven, and serve warm.

Michaela Young

“I recently baked an apple crumble that was so good, made by Donna Hay. I enjoy baking as I like good food. If I’m going to be eating something, then I want to eat something that tastes good and is well made.

The really cool thing about baking is that even though some things are harder to make than others, really anyone can cook anything as long as you follow the recipe. But then the better you get at it you can also improvise and be creative and change things the way you want. 

In quarantine, I’ve found myself really drawn to things that remind me of home or that help to mark certain dates or times of year. The Hot Cross buns I made were because in Australia we always eat Hot Cross Buns at Easter. Since you can’t get them here, I decided I had to make my own! My mum used to make them for us and she sent me this recipe. They turned out great!”

Erin Connolly

“I started baking bread when I lived in China and I wasn’t satisfied with the bread options that I could find. Learning to make bread was definitely a trial-and-error process. I made countless loaves that were like concrete blocks or were sunken in the middle; lots were burned or completely raw in the middle. My tiny Beijing apartment was covered in flour every weekend.

But I love bread so much that I really enjoyed the learning process, especially when it turned out well. Now I make bread all the time, even when it’s not quarantine times! I prefer dense, grainy loaves with seeds, while Mr. Powers likes light, soft white bread, so I try making lots of different styles. The one in the photo here is a soft white honey-buttermilk bread.”

Courtney McDonald

“I definitely prefer cooking savoury foods rather than baking. I tend not to bake that often because I’m not a huge fan of measuring and following recipes and baking requires exact measurements. Bagels are something I like to make though since they are the food I miss the most from living in New Jersey! It’s hard to find a real bagel that is boiled and baked, which is the key to their chewy texture. Often bakeries just make round bread and call it a bagel.

This recipe here is by far my favourite. Some changes I make are…

  • Sometimes I do everything up until step 5 the night before. After the rising is done in step 5, I wrap the dough in plastic wrap and then put it in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Then the next day I do steps 6 through 13.  This means less work to do in the morning!  You could also freeze the dough after step 5 and defrost in the refrigerator the night before you want to make them.
  • I usually do an everything bagel topping with grated onion and garlic, dried rosemary, red pepper flakes, and salt.
  • I make veggie cream cheese to go with this.  Mix a container of Philadelphia cream cheese with any chopped raw veggies (green onions, grated carrots, red peppers, etc).

Jennifer Sutton

“Living on my own and social-distancing, I’ve been trying to avoid ‘procrastibaking’ lately, so as not to have too many tempting treats around the house. That’s actually been kind of tough since I find baking to be a great stress relief. I also love the idea of sharing something that you made from scratch with other people. 

My interest in baking probably started watching my grandma and mom baking in their respective kitchens. Both are pretty possessive of their spaces so I definitely heard “Don’t touch that!” far more than “Come and help me do this.” Both are very systematic and precise in the kitchen, following recipes to the letter. I’m way more free-range in my baking style (which is part of the reason they hate having me in their kitchens). I like to use a recipe as a guideline of what might work. Having said that, from a chemistry perspective, baking can be pretty unforgiving and my alterations have messed up the end results more than once.

One of my most favorite recipes (Chocolate Guinness Cake) was a birthday cake request from a friend. I’ve been making it for about 15 years and it gets rave reviews. It is definitely not for the lactose intolerant and, looking at the ingredients on the counter will make you feel like you should go and exercise for even considering putting them all together. 

Here is the amazing recipe I use, and here are my modifications:

  • Cut the sugar in half (it’s still plenty sweet).
  • Only use cream cheese and icing sugar for the frosting (there is already enough dairy in this thing!) ? 
  • This modification was a total accident, but my reviewers say it made the cake better. I accidentally poured the whole can of Guinness (440 ml) in bowl the first time I made it (inability to read and follow instructions). The cake took longer to cook, but the end result was more moist and rich than when I used the correct volume the next time. I think the sweet spot is around 350 ml, but I’ve never actually measured it (just pour and keep a bit in the bottom of the can).

The cake doesn’t taste of Guinness, it just accentuates the chocolate flavor and adds an earthy richness.”

Kirk McDavitt

“I started baking when I got a job at a bakery in Detroit, Michigan. I worked there for a few years, making cookies, cakes, breads and many kinds of desserts. It was great to be up super early and done working by 2 o’ clock in the afternoon. My favorite part was taking fresh bread out of the oven, letting it cool for a minute, and then eating a couple slices slathered with cream cheese or butter.

I love the transformation that occurs in baking, the way things rise. These days, baking is mostly a Saturday or Sunday morning activity, when my wife and I can indulge in a little gluttony and then lay around reading or listening to music.”

Find “The Captain’s” recipe here.

Jennifer Stevens

“I’ve always been really into food–eating it and cooking it. In fact, before I taught at AISB I was a food writer for an expat magazine in Shanghai. 

While I consider myself more a cook than a baker, I’ve found myself ‘healthy baking’ (no refined sugars or flours) a lot since my cancer diagnosis last year. There’s something really therapeutic about measuring, timing everything–it’s an exact science and makes me feel in control in very out-of-control moments. 

I’ve tried several banana bread recipes during quarantine (I know, so cliche!), but this is the one I keep going back to. The only modifications: I omit the nutmeg, use chopped up 70% dark chocolate instead of chips, and usually pull the loaf out of the oven about 10 minutes earlier than is recommended.

Tell us: Have you been quarantine baking? If so, leave links for your favorite recipes below!