Bake the stress away

Measured predictability might be why you’re seeing so many banana breads and sourdough loaves on your social feeds.
Cream Puffs
Photo by Shawn Bolduc

During a health crisis where so much is unknown and uncontrollable, an activity like baking allows us to manipulate variables to control the outcome. This kind of measured predictability might be why you’re seeing so many banana breads and sourdough loaves on your social feeds.

So it’s no wonder Shawn Bolduc has found success in hosting virtual baking classes.

“I’ve always wanted to have a really strong presence that would bring food to people and show them that they can bake,” says Bolduc, owner of The Baked Lab. The director of audience services for the Wisconsin Union Theater by day, Bolduc is a self-trained baker specializing in modern cakes and desserts for weddings and events.

Since April he’s held a handful of virtual classes via Zoom that were promoted on his Instagram account, @thebakedlab. He provides ingredient and utensil lists beforehand, and participants learn how to bake in real time with Bolduc. They’ve made items including a puff pastry toaster tart, a Lisbon chocolate cake, a roasted tomato quiche and cheddar onion biscuits.

Shawn Buldoc baking

Photo by Sunny Frantz

“I really want to provide people with base recipes that they can sort of add to their repertoire [in] their home kitchens,” he says. Baking classes have always been a part of Bolduc’s vision for The Baked Lab, which successfully raised money through Kickstarter in 2019 to get him into Christine’s Kitchens, a shared commercial kitchen space. While COVID-19 has led to a lot of cancellations, the classes — hosted from his 500-square-foot studio apartment he had been quarantined in — took off in an exciting way.

His first class had about 20 participants. By his May 4 class, he had 47 bakers tuning in. After a fourth class, a local business reached out in hopes of collaborating.

“Unlike a lot of people who are really struggling at this time, I’ve had this opportunity that I don’t think I could have ever dreamed would have happened right now kind of fall into my lap,” he says. “And I’m like, ‘Let’s do this. Let’s figure out a way to make this grow.’”

Click here to read more stories about how we coped with stress during coronavirus.