• Make the most of isolation and join #BakeCorona. (Regula Ysewijn/Instagram)Source: Regula Ysewijn/Instagram
Are you at home? Stay linked during the coronavirus pandemic by sharing your cake and cookie creations with this social media campaign.
Sofia Levin

23 Mar 2020 - 10:31 AM  UPDATED 23 Mar 2020 - 10:39 AM

About a week ago, Belgian author and Instagram baker Regula Ysewijn (@missfoodwise) posted a picture of an iced rectangular cake, cut to reveal perfect pink and white sponge squares.

It wasn't about online appeal. It was a holler to join a social media initiative spurred by quarantining and self-isolation after the government shut restaurants, cafes and schools in Belgium to combat COVID-19.

"Let's… bake together, united by the hashtag #BakeCorona, because we will bake it, we will beat it. With every cake, biscuit and Swiss roll," she wrote to her audience.

Since then, the hashtag has been used nearly 600 times at the time of publication, with people sharing profiteroles, crumbles, cookies and loaves to stay connected.

Over in London, Helen Goh, food writer and Yotam Ottolenghi's product developer, says she's being tagged more than usual in people's Insta-baking posts. 

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She isn't surprised to hear about the hashtag.

"We cook out of necessity, but we bake to celebrate special times.

"Even if we are not celebrating, we are marking a time, for whatever reason. I think it's very human," she says. 

"Let's bake together, united by the hashtag #BakeCorona."

In Melbourne, Paola Bacchia (@italyonmymind) had to cancel her Italian cooking classes until the end of May. She thinks the #BakeCorona hashtag has great potential.

"There is a whole lot of joy with the whole mixing of the stuff and banging it on the table – if you're going to do that, and the smell when it's actually cooking, and the joy when it comes out of the oven.

"If it doesn't work, it doesn't matter, you've got enough time to do it again," she jokes.

Bacchia recommends using time at home to experiment, trawl #BakeCorona online videos, and video call friends to share your baking successes.

"Every two or three days, get a different cookbook out and flick through the ones you haven't touched for a long time, or just bought because they looked beautiful," she says.

Bacchia wants to dedicate her time to incorporate more Asian ingredients. "I can cook Italian until the cows come home, but give me something that's remotely not Italian and I freak, completely," she says.

Baker and children's book author Alisha Henderson (@sweetbakes_) is going one step further and delivering cake packs. 

After her teaching gigs and travel plans dried up, she wanted to do something to lift people's spirits. "I thought, 'I've got so much time, what can I do with my skill set?' Because the mood is pretty sombre," she says.

The answer? Cake Mail – a cake-sample service Henderson uses to offer engaged couples choosing their wedding cake flavour.

"Who doesn't need cake right now?"

Each Cake Mail pack contains eight, generous slices in flavours like lemon curd and white raspberry, and orange and champagne. After a call-out on Instagram, her first 100 boxes (that's 800 slices of cake) sold out within hours. Because as Henderson says, "Who doesn't need cake right now?"

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Henderson is also buying ingredients from friends in the industry whose events have been cancelled. She plans to use them to make online video tutorials and recipes to help people connect during isolation.

"Everyone's in this weird survival mode to buy the essentials.

"It's so nice because cake is not an essential food group, but here we all are baking together to bring some joy back into our lives," she says.

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