Finding New Hobbies During COVID-19


Zach Weissman

Delicious cinnamon babka made from scratch during the stay-at-home order.

Zach Weissman, Staff Writer

TELLURIDE — With all this time indoors, some people (like yours truly) have been attempting to take up new hobbies. I’ve been doing everything from riding my indoor bike to playing basketball in my driveway, but I think the hobby that I like most, and what’s been a “hot” topic during this time is bread making. 

Normally, people use yeast to make their bread rise, but with all of the hoarding and shortages during this pandemic, yeast was nowhere to be found.

After some research, I learned you could make sourdough bread (which happens to be my favorite) without yeast. Instead of yeast, sourdough bread uses a “starter” which is just a simple combination of water and flour.

When I set out to make bread, I didn’t realize it would be such an exercise in patience. If you are like me, when you’re craving fresh bread, you don’t really want to wait a week to get it. But sourdough starters take about a week to become strong enough to make bread, so I had to get used to the wait.

During the first week, you feed your starter twice a day, reserving a part of the last batch and mixing that with more flour and water. According to Maurizio from ‘The Perfect Loaf,’ a website devoted to baking naturally leavened bread, it’s important to have a food scale and weigh out your ingredients every time.

Since I am new to cooking, I thought it would be best to follow the directions pretty closely, so I weighed out 50 grams of starter, 50 grams of all purpose flour, 50 grams of rye flour and 100 grams of water every time.

On the second day, I could see my starter rising, and by the third day it had so much activity that it bubbled over the top. The next two days were back to not much rising, so I thought I had killed my starter, but by day five I started to see a consistent rise and fall with each feeding.

Zach Weissman
Starter for homemade bread.

Day seven was the first day I could make bread with my starter. Unfortunately, I still had to wait longer because you make the dough and then you have to wait another day before you bake it!

The first loaf I made was pretty good, but it didn’t have as many air bubbles as it should. I kept making loaves every day for that week, and by the end of the week, I was pretty good at shaping the loaves and baking the bread.

I used a covered Dutch Oven to bake my bread, which is supposedly the easiest way to get a good crust.

By the end of the week I decided I could venture into more difficult recipes, so I tried what is now my favorite recipe of all, cinnamon-filled babka. It’s a delicious loaf of cinnamon and brown sugar swirls, which I highly recommend. 

If you are looking for a new hobby, I recommend trying bread making. It’s relaxing and rewarding, and your friends and family will be amazed.

I recommend Maurizio’s website for recipes for the starter, basic bread and, especially, the cinnamon babka