Fresh Roberson, a Chicago chef, kept hearing the same thing from her club’s newest members: Dough was their savior.
Fresh co-directs the Chicago Bread Club, an organization that runs workshops on making sourdough, biscuits, and babka. While the club welcomes members of all ages, it was this new class of millennial attendees — many of them female college graduates — who echoed a very specific sentiment. Bread-making, the physical action of mixing ingredients and kneading dough, was a stress reliever.
“There’s something about following a procedure — putting things together, then watching it rise,” says Roberson, 37. “You get to be creative and work with your hands… It’s also really pretty.”
Baking bread is having a moment: Social media accounts such as Challah Hub highlight the joy of working with yeast, while 800,000 posts are dedicated to #homemadebread. In cities like New York and Los Angeles, bread-baking gatherings have gained momentum despite trendy gluten-free and no-carb diets. Sales of sourdough starter kits are seeing a resurgence.
“There’s a real satisfaction element,” says Chicago Bread Club founder and co-director Shulamis Rouzaud, 33, who notes another draw: an intrinsic desire to make something. And bread, for many, is a totally accessible DIY product. You just need flour, water, and the ability to follow directions.
It’s not a chore—it’s ‘self-care’
When referring to baking, Rouzaud avoids the ubiquitous term “wellness,” which conveys a pursuit of something that may or may not be achievable. Instead, she uses “well-being.” That, she explains, is a more holistic and individual-centered philosophy.
Baking is just one of many ways U.S. women now find refuge in activities once associated with domestic drudgery. It’s something they can proudly tackle and satisfyingly complete, in contrast to other modern-day pressures, be it work or parenting or, I don’t know, keeping their family healthy during a pandemic.
“Cooking shouldn’t be viewed as a chore or another…