Mindful Baking

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TODAY (SATURDAY, 13TH JUNE) IS NATIONAL CUPCAKE DAY

We are calling all chefs, cooks and anyone ‘mad about Master Chef’ or ‘Bonkers about Bake Off’ to take a moment to slow down for some mindful baking.
Through lockdown, many of us have already taken to baking more – in April it was reported that flour production in mills had increased ten-fold, since the UK entered lockdown.

Baking can be a great way to increase your wellbeing. With all those smells, tastes and textures going on, it can create an opportunity to slow down and take notice. With this in mind, we’d like to share with you a mindful baking exercise, devised by one of our counsellors.


We have adapted a simple Mary Berry recipe for cupcakes for this post, but really and recipe could work here.


INGREDIENTS
For The Cake:
• 100 g (4 oz) softened butter
• 100 g (4 oz) caster sugar
• 2 large eggs
• 100 g (4 oz) self-raising flour
• 1 level tsp baking powder


For The Icing:
• 225 g (8 oz) sifted icing sugar
• 2-3tbsp warm water
• handful of sweets, to decorate


If you wish to flavour your cake mix or icing: you will need lemon rind and juice for lemon cake; cocoa / hot chocolate powder for chocolate cake

BEFORE YOU START…

Collect together your ingredients. Imagine where they have come from, picture the cows in the fields, the hens in the yard and the wheat growing in the sunshine.
Do any of these places bring back good memories? Take time to savour the good moments, what can you See? Hear? Feel? Taste? Touch? Smell?

METHOD
Preheat the oven to 200C fan, 180C fan, gas 6. 12-hole bun tin and 12 paper cake case
Step 1. Into a large bowl cream the butter and sugar together until smooth.

There might be some resistance here until the two elements begin to gel. What do you notice about the colour? The consistency? What is happening to our mind and body as you work?

Step 2. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs with a fork or whisk and then pour onto the cream and butter mix

How much effort does this take? Really notice the muscles you are using. When was the last time you used this part of your body? What happens to the eggs? How do they change?

Step 3. Sift in the flour and baking powder through a sieve

Watch the flour as it falls through the sieve and onto the butter, sugar and eggs. What happens to it as it falls? As it lands and sits? Try to imagine you are as weightless as the flour / are standing beneath it as it falls. Does it remind you of other things? Stay in the moment and try not to let your mind wander.

Step 4. Mix with the other ingredients – Now is the time to add any additional flavour if you are using any.

Step 5. Beat for 2-3 mins until the mixture is well blended and smooth (either by hand or with an electric mixer).

Watch as the ingredients mix. How does the mixture change? How are you feeling as you see everything coming together? What are your physical sensations? Where is your mind taking you? Are you feeling excited? Impatient? Acknowledge these feelings but don’t allow one to overwhelm the experience?

Step 6. Place the cases into the bun tin. Fill each paper case with the mixture.

How are you going to divide the mixture evenly? What are your sensations as you do this? Which of your senses are you most aware of?

Step 7. Place the bun tin into the centre of the oven.

Notice the heat of the oven as you open it.

Step.8 Bake for 15-20 minutes until the cakes are well risen and golden brown.

What are you doing whilst you wait for the cakes to cook? Notice how you are feeling. Notice which of your senses you are most aware of.

Step 9. Lift the paper cases out of the bun tin and cool the cakes on a wire rack.

Step 10. Put the icing sugar in a bowl and gradually blend in the warm water until you have a fairly stiff icing. If you wish to flavour the icing now is the time to do so. Spoon over the top of the cakes and decorate with sweets.

SAVOUR THE FLAVOUR

Take your time eating your delicious cupcakes. Peel off the paper case. Is it resistant or does it pull away easily?
Feel the texture of your cake. Is it springy? Warm? How does the icing sit?


What are the scents? Do they bring back memories? How do they make you feel?


Now take a bite. Savour the sensation on your tongue. Hold it there. Can you detect more than one flavour? What is the texture in your mouth? Is there more than one? How does this change as you chew? Do the flavours change? Merge? See how long you can wait before you swallow. See how long you can make your cake last.
When was the last time you took your time to really experience something fully? Notice how you feel.


If you enjoyed mindful baking, perhaps you could encourage your family and friends to get involved? Maybe they’d like to do some mindful baking too. Hopefully they’ll share their delicious baked goods with you!

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