Kneading through tough times

Baking may be a pandemic hobby for many, but for some others running home-based food businesses, it has been a lifeline

Carbohydrates have been the breakout food group during the pandemic.

Baking became existential, with the kneading of bread alleviating collective anxiety over the coronavirus, as social media lit up with sourdough "showoffery".

But carbs can be comforting in other ways.

For every newbie baker beaming over his burnt cheese cake in his Instagram Story, there was a home chef sweating it out in her kitchen-office, wondering if she was cooking enough to make a living.

Cooking and baking may be a pandemic hobby for some. For others running home-based food businesses, it was a lifeline. (, an online marketplace featuring home-based and small businesses, has been holding a virtual Chinese New Year fair to showcase their home-spun food and items.

Mr Vincent Ong, who is in charge of marketing and sponsorship at, says that many of these vendors were adversely affected by Covid-19.

"Most of the owners of our home-based businesses are in their middle age. Most of them were affected by Covid-19, some lost their jobs and started their businesses to help them cover their expenses," he says.

The four home-based business owners interviewed by The Sunday Times describe baking and cooking as a means of keeping afloat, either financially or emotionally.

One of them, Ms Juliana Ramli, 45, says the pandemic-fuelled proliferation of baking hobbyists online keeps her on her toes.

"There was a lot of competition. I had to try new ideas," she says. Besides baking desserts, she has ventured into savouries, debuting chicken-filled Thai dumplings last year.

Here are their flour-sprinkled bounce-back stories.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 21, 2021, with the headline 'Kneading through tough times '. Subscribe