Cooking and Baking provides the perfect opportunity to clear your head and de-stress! It's also a fantastic way to show your kindness through the act of giving to others - who doesn't enjoy receiving baked goods as a gift?!
Focusing your attention on a creative activity, such as baking, can improve your mindfulness and focus on the present moment. For some, baking can also aid stress relief, which means it can support positive mental wellbeing in the following ways...
Stay in control
Baking is creative and scientific!
Ingredients must be measured and recipes followed to create tasty treats.
Some people find the process of baking to be calm and comforting, in turn helping to ease negative mental health.
Baking helps to improve your focus by paying attention to the recipe's instructions. Naturally, this is much easier to do when there is a delicious reward for your efforts!
This mindful approach is then transferable to everyday challenges, which can help make a positive difference to your mental health.
Boost your self-confidence
Small acts of kindness can help you feel great satisfaction.
Baking is a fantastic way to share your creations and bring people together as they enjoy your tasty treats! This can help to boost your happiness and confidence.
Unlocks your senses
Baking can help you connect with your senses. Feeling the ingredients as you bring them together, seeing your baked goods rise in the oven, and not forgetting, the delicious smell and taste! Connecting with our senses increases our feel-good endorphins, which are crucial to our wellbeing.
Why not have a go at making some gingerbread people or cupcakes?
By choosing what to bake and how you’ll make it, your creative journey has already begun.
350g/12oz plain flour, plus extra for rolling out
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
175g/6oz light soft brown sugar
1 free-range egg
4 tbsp golden syrup
Writing icing (optional)
Cake decorations (optional)
Adapted from BBC Food (2022)
- Sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger, and cinnamon, and pour the ingredients into the bowl of a food processor. You can also do this by hand! Add the butter and blend the ingredients until the mix looks like breadcrumbs. Follow this by stirring in the sugar.
- Lightly beat the egg and golden syrup together and add them to the food processor. Pulse the ingredients until the mixture clumps together. Then, tip the dough out and knead it briefly until it is smooth. Wrap it in cling film and leave it to chill in the fridge for 15 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4 and line two baking trays with greaseproof paper.
- Roll the dough out to a 0.5cm/¼ inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Using cutters, cut out gingerbread shapes and place on the baking tray. Be sure to leave a gap between them!
- Bake the gingerbread shapes for 12–15 minutes, or until lightly golden-brown. Leave them on the tray for 10 minutes and then move them to a wire rack to finish cooling.
- Once your gingerbread has cooled, you can decorate it with the writing icing and cake decorations.
100g dairy-free margarine
100g caster sugar
2 tbsp vanilla paste
100g crunchy peanut butter
225g plain flour
3 tbsp roasted peanuts, split in half
Adapted from Liberty Mendez’s recipe (n.d.), BBC Good Food.
- Beat the margarine, sugar, and vanilla using an electric whisk for 1 minute until pale and smooth. If you do not have an electric whisk, you can also do this by hand. Mix in the peanut butter and flour until both ingredients are fully incorporated. Bring the ingredients together into a smooth dough using your hands.
- Roll out the dough between two sheets of baking paper until it is about 1cm thick. If the dough is very soft (this will depend on the margarine used), chill it for 45 minutes until it becomes slightly firm. Heat the oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3 and line one large or two medium baking trays with baking paper.
- Cut circles out of the dough using an 8cm cookie cutter and place the rounds on the lined baking trays. Press a few peanut halves, cut side-up, firmly into the tops of the biscuits. Bake for 12-15 minutes until the cookies turn lightly golden around the edges.
- Leave the cookies to cool on the trays for 5 mins and then lift them onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Adapted from Sarah Cook's (2012) Doughnut Muffins recipe, BBC Good Food.
140g golden caster sugar and an extra 200g for dusting
200g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
100ml natural yogurt
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
140g melted butter, plus extra for greasing
12 tsp seedless raspberry jam
- Heat your oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5 and lightly grease a 12-hole muffin tin (or use a silicone one). Put 140g sugar, flour, and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl and mix to combine it. Whisk together the yogurt, eggs, and vanilla in a jug and tip the contents and melted butter into the dry ingredients. Quickly fold them in with a metal spoon to combine all of the ingredients.
- Divide two-thirds of the mixture between the muffin holes. Carefully add 1 tsp jam into the centre of each and then cover this with the remaining mixture. Bake the donut muffins for 16-18 minutes until they rise. They should be golden and springy to touch.
- Leave the donut muffins for five minutes to cool, before lifting them out of the tin and rolling them in the remaining sugar.
Adapted from Cassie Best's (2019) Vegan Chocolate Brownies recipe, BBC Good Food.
2 tbsp ground flaxseed
200g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
½ tsp coffee granules
80g vegan margarine, plus extra for greasing
125g self-raising flour
70g ground almonds
50g cocoa powder
¼ tsp baking powder
250g golden caster sugar
1½ tsp vanilla extract
- Heat your oven to 170C/150C fan/gas 3½. Grease and line a 20cm square tin with baking paper. Combine the flaxseed with 6 tbsp water and set aside for at least five minutes.
- Melt 120g chocolate in a saucepan, add the coffee and margarine and 60ml water on a low heat. Allow this to cool slightly.
- Put the flour, almonds, cocoa, baking powder and ¼ tsp salt in a bowl and stir the ingredients to remove any lumps. Mix the sugar into the melted chocolate mixture using a hand whisk, and beat it well until smooth and glossy, ensuring all the sugar is well dissolved. Once you have done this, stir in the flaxseed mixture, vanilla extract, and the remaining chocolate. Then add the flour mixture, mix it together, and begin to spoon the mixture into the prepared tin.
- Bake the brownie mix for 35-45 minutes until you can insert a skewer in the middle of the brownies and it comes out clean with moist crumbs. Allow the tin to cool completely and then cut the brownies into squares. Be sure to store your brownies in an airtight container and eat them within three days, which shouldn't be a problem!!!
If you feel inspired to bake or cook, why not try a few more recipes below?
Want to try some healthy recipes to cook too? Check out the links below!
Take a look at our wonderful collaboration between LiNCHigher, BGSU, CELT at BGU and Eat More Good Stuff!
This Recipe Booklet includes 7 easy to make recipes, slightly elevated to make some basic ingredients delicious!