Moments of Joy

Moment of Joy: Baking Through the Pandemic

A 25-pound bag of flour is a sweet distraction for this novice baker.

By Ilene Denton July 20, 2020

Image: Shutterstock

It started innocently enough with beer bread. You know, the recipe that uses beer to make the dough rise instead of yeast.

“A friend was raving about it, and I thought I’d like to try it,” says Jeff Sebeika, a University Park resident and Sarasota Orchestra supporter who enjoys cooking elaborate recipes but has never been one to bake. (“We always got our desserts from Morton’s,” he says.)

But remember in late March when baking supplies were impossible to find? When Sebeika couldn’t even find flour in the grocery story, he bought a 25-pound bag from a restaurant supply house on Amazon.

Twenty-five pounds equals 100 cups of flour, all to be used in a few months. "I started on a mission," Sebeika says. "I wanted to see what it’s like to be a baker, to see if I could do it, so I started going through my cookbooks and saying, ‘that sounds good.’" 

In the past three months, Sebeika has made carrot cake, pineapple upside cake, coconut cake, chocolate ganache cake, blondie bars, peanut butter cookies, double chocolate chip and peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, peach cobbler, several kinds of cheesecakes and, yes, even beer bread. (Editor's confession: I have been the recipient of at least one cheesecake, a huge hunk of chocolate cake and the peach cobbler—all excellent.) 

“My recipe for the coconut cake called for buttermilk, then I had to figure out what to do with the rest of the quart, so I made buttermilk biscuits,” says Sebeika.  “It was more challenging than I thought, but they weren’t bad for a first round. And last night, with the extra buttermilk biscuits, I made biscuits and gravy, which also used flour. So I killed two birds with one stone.”

Sebeika is pleased to report he’s down to less than a third of the bag, which means he’s used 66 cups of flour. “I think I now enjoy the fact that I can make a dessert that seems to taste good,” he says. “Homemade dessert—that’s part of my repertoire.”

But as is the case with many newfound skills, he says he’s gained even more. “It’s amazing when people hear that I have all this flour, they want to share their favorite recipes with me,” he says. “I have a whole new community: People Who Bake.”

Now he's off to his cookbooks to see what to do with those last 34 cups of flour. 

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