The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Emotional baking?

althetrainer's picture

Emotional baking?

I don't know about other bakers but when I get stressed out I feel like baking.  When I am tired I want to make breads.  It's a very strange thing, isn't it?  I was up late last night, feeling stressed out so I made a sweet dough.  Forced myself to go to bed but didn't sleep very well.  This morning I woke up, was too tired to exercise so I baked instead.  I wanted to make sweet buns with French pastry cream filling but realized I was out of eggs.  I was so desperate that I used Bird's custard and vanilla pudding powder.  Then I used the leftover dough to make cinnamon buns with cream chesse icing. 

As for now, I am still very tired but at least the kitchen smells like a bakery.  Not sure if it's a healthy thing though...


Nomadcruiser53's picture

Mouthwatering and worth getting out of bed for I'd say. Dave

Flour's picture

I agree that it is very strange, and I had no idea that this was something I do.

It was my husband who noticed and told me that I relieve stress/deal with frustrations through baking/cooking. For instance, yesterday I was really tired after a long work week and verbally stated, "I don't feel like cooking dinner." Why did I make pizza?!

I can't explain why or how it is, but emotional baking is true for me!

Cool topic Althetrainer and yummy looking bread!

TeaIV's picture

same thing happens here.... I guess most hobbies are like that....

naughtyprata's picture

LOL! You remind me of the character Izzie Stevens in Grey's Anatomy. When she's stressed she bakes muffins - lots of them. In one episode, her housemates woke up to find the kitchen overrun by muffins.

No worries, I find baking bread therapeutic. There is something with kneading and shaping the dough in your hands which is calming. The smell of fresh bread is like aromatheraphy.


AW's picture

for me. Saturday night is when I put together the poolish or biga and on Sunday's I bake for the week. When I was working, it prepared me for the upcoming hectic week and put my mind in a clear state. I would turn on KEXP, and dance around my tiny kitchen, baking. There's nothing like the combination (for me) of listening to great music and making bread. Now that I'm no longer fulltime employed it's not a stress reliever but simply pure joy. Thanks for helping me remember why I keep doing what I love. Job or no job.

althetrainer's picture

Wow, it's good to know that I am not alone.  To me, it's the kneading, shaping, and seeing the outcome as planned gives me back a certain amount of "control" of my hectic life.    I am looking forward to baking for pure enjoyment.  For now, I still have to deal with the overflow baked goods.  Most of them will be shared by the neighbors and their kids.

ericb's picture

For me, baking is anything but meditative. While I love planning out recipes in my mind, and I get such pleasure out of remembering a baking experience, I find the actual acts of baking very stressful. I also find that I get a little depressed after I take the loaves out of the oven. It's not necessarily because they're poorly shaped, or didn't rise enough, but the fact that I put so much time and effort into what ultimately is only going to be a few pounds of bread. The only exception to this is if I give the bread away... then, it all seems worth it.

Despite the fact that it causes me stress, I feel compelled to bake. My wife and I have busy lives between work, family, and social obligations, so perhaps that's why I can't take solace in baking. On the other hand, perhaps the reason I feel so compelled to bake is that it's some serious "me" time that I have to commit to for a specific amount of time.

Anyway, I'm glad so many people out there get such pleasure out of baking. Thanks for sharing your stories.


davidg618's picture

I've had hobbies at least since I was eight years old: model airplanes. Since then, I've never been without at least one hobby, usually more than one. They've been too numerous to count. I start a new one, stay with it for eight or ten years, and then it wanes. Sometimes, I've returned to a neglected one, for a short time, usually a single project, and then drop it again. Only one, photography, has stayed with me constantly, since teen years. It wasn't until i read your posting I started to think about why I bake, and why my recent sudden interest to increase my bread baking knowledge, and improve my bread making skills. I'd never thought of it as a hobby. I bake to feed myself and others, I'd always thought.

But, on reflection, it is yet another hobby. So, then I started thinking about my emotional involvement. Stress relieving? Hardly, I'm retired. All my stress these days is self imposed, including worrying about sourdough starters, dough temperature, overproofing, etc., etc. Meditative? I don't think so. A confession: I've baked bread for many years, and until I finally bought a Kitchenaid stand mixer, I kneaded bread dough by hand. I love the feel of satiny dough, but, except for those few minutes kneading after the machine has done most of the work, I find hand kneading tedious, and boring. Stretch and fold and rest ( for me, and the dough) is the greatest thing since...

Widening my thoughts I realized that all my hobbies, except for the physical ones--hiking, sailing, and carriage driving--are or were about making stuff. New stuff, sometimes never seen before stuff, and, like my work had been, sometimes technical stuff. Bread-baking, for me, has touches of all those properties.

So, I guess, for me, the emotion is the intrinsic reward of making something.

David G.


jmdestefanoii's picture

It was actually "prescribed" for me by a grief counsellor after my late brother's passing (he was a chef).  Baking was one of the few things we did together when I was younger (along with making raviolis ;)).  The only thing to watch out for is it's companion condition -- stress eating.  Happy baking!

BNLeuck's picture
BNLeuck of less concern for me when I actually bake the bread. It seems the process of it releases stress and nervous energy, and I feel less like eating, and more like sleeping. LOL Seriously, after an afternoon of baking, all I want is a nap!

pattycakes's picture

If I have bread retarding in the refrigerator overnight, I wake up early and excited to see what it's done overnight...and I often bake just because I want the feelinf of the dough in my hands and the rhythm of the process. It's soothing, satisfies a curious vein, and provides a creative outlet; I'm hooked, but I don't think it's dangerous!


ktgp's picture

This last year (my last of college) my roommates always knew when I had a big paper due because there would be a constant stream of fresh bread.  It's almost a requirement when I'm tackeling a stressful project!  Baking keeps me grounded.

poppyfields's picture

I know that everytime we have a cool, rainy day I feel like baking cookies.  Been that way for my whole life.  I guess rain makes me want comfort food.  Interesting.