Need Help, New Bakers? Give King Arthur's Baker's Hotline a Call

Calls to the Baker's Hotline have more than doubled during the coronavirus pandemic compared to last year, said Barbara Alpern, one of the hotline's resident sourdough specialists

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During quarantine, many people have taken up new hobbies to fill the extra time they may have on their hands, perhaps none more common than baking.

From sweet desserts to delicious fresh bread, the idea of creating a tasty baked good might seem easy -- it certainly led to flour and bread shortages this spring -- but plenty of newfound bakers have found themselves with a project that isn't coming together right.

So what happens if you're stuck at home and accidentally measure too much flour or leave a loaf of bread a little too long in the oven? Enter the Baker's Hotline from King Arthur Baking Company, the storied Vermont flour supplier known until this week as the King Arthur Flour Company.

The hotline has been helping bakers of all skill levels for years, but baking calls have more than doubled during the pandemic compared to last year, said Barbara Alpern, one of the hotline's resident sourdough specialists.

She offered us some tips for bakers as they learn new skills.

"Yeast will die at 140 degrees, so you definitely don't want to get it too hot. And some people will put it in the oven with their oven light on, which is fine. That's kind of lukewarm. But if you forget and turn the oven on, that is not a good thing," Alpern said. "So that's the one thing not to do. And really, when you're starting a starter from scratch, just patience really pays off almost always."

Researchers found that people who do things like cooking and baking feel better about their day-to-day activities.

Baking can prove to be a daunting task, even more so during the pandemic. As a result, it's easy to become frustrated with the challenges that come along with creating a perfect baked good.

However, Alpern encourages bakers to stay calm and patient.

"Sometimes things look a little wonky but that's okay. You're learning along the way and usually, you know, even your mistakes are going to be delicious," said Alpern. "It really helps to kind of maintain a sense of humor and just grow with the process."

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