For most of March, bread baking was having its moment.
Quarantined would-be bakers flooded Instagram and Facebook with photos of freshly baked loaves. Google searches jumped for break-making how-to’s. Flour and yeast disappeared from store shelves.
But now, it seems the bread may be done rising.
According to data from shoppable recipe platform Chicory, searches for the recipe for basic home made bread reached a peak the week of March 22nd at 896 thousand total views. A week later, views dropped by 26% to 661 thousand.
Are consumers over breadmaking?
I doubt it. My guess is that more consumers than ever before are baking bread.
So why the drop? One reason may be consumers realized there’s plenty of bread to be found on store shelves after an initial wave of panic buying and are mixing store purchases with home baking. Another may be that after the initial wave of searches for that first bread recipe crested, many have moved on to making more loaves with the same recipe or using one road-tested by a friend.
And then, some, like our own Catherine Lamb, may have just realized bread baking takes a lot of time. I knew she had recently taken up baking bread, so I asked her how it’s been going.
“I still do bake it, but less frequently” she responded. “It just takes a lot of time (basically 24 full hours) with intermittent maintenance, so it’s not a spur of the moment thing.
“Plus,” she said, “I had SO MUCH bread.”
I figured if Catherine, The Spoon’s most prolific home cook and a person who’s Twitter profile pic has her holding an artisanal loaf, has lost patience with act of bread baking, I can only imagine how many “one and done” bakers are out there.
Finally, it’s possible the downward trend may only be temporary. After a slight dip in early April, Google Trends showed Google searches for the term bake bread rebounded this week.
I also have to wonder if many of the first time home bread bakers are moving onto new projects (including new types of bread). While basic bread and tortillas dipped this past week, views of “how to make banana bread” and “how to make your own sourdough starter” have continued to grow every week for the last month.
One thing that is clear is consumer behavior has changed radically over the past month. Certainly, many more people are baking bread now than at the beginning of the year, even if some of those may have already decided to go back to buying loaves at the store.
The real question I have is how permanent many of the behavior shifts will be after a couple months of quarantine. My guess is it will probably take at least a year or two to find out.