When I was contemplating starting a bakery tied to mindfulness, I did some research to see what kind of mindfulness/baking resources were available, and if others were already in this type of biz in my area. Compared to other bakery concepts, there wasn’t much out there. Not just in MN, but across the whole interwebs! Besides a few blog posts or articles online, and two books, I didn’t find much written content either.
Mindful Baking as an Art
The popular idea of mindful baking is relatively new, although people have been experiencing the benefits of mindful baking for ages. Mindful baking is all about being present with ingredients, focusing on the task at hand, and staying in the moment to create food. It is true: some recipes or motives for baking can cause extreme stress. However, the process of mindful baking is way more than mixing some ingredients together and throwing them in the oven. The emphasis of this type of baking is being present, tuning out other distractions, and centering one’s being. Doesn’t that sound more attractive?
Author Julia Ponsonby writes, “Successful baking requires us to be mindful. It needs us to be fully present with our activity, engaged in a flow that is impervious to distractions.” In her book The Art of Mindful Baking, Ponsonby shares recipes and mindful baking exercises to bring readers back to the present. Focusing on the simplicity of baking, our hands, and our breath are ways the author encourages mindful baking.
When I think of times that I’ve messed up a recipe, it’s almost always because I was multitasking, rushing the process, or assumed repetition did not require me to check the measurements. Approaching a baking session with pause, presence, and patience are helpful ways to carry mindfulness into the task.
I have watched professionals and amateur bakers read, read again, and triple check recipes before beginning to bake. This is a great example of the pause. For some of us, this is no big deal. Personally, I would rather sit down with a cookbook and read it cover to cover before indulging in a novel. The recipe and instructions are like a story to me. However, I realize other people jump right in and read as they bake.
This is my invitation you: try the earlier mentioned method. Create space while you bake for pausing both initially to understand the recipe, as well as review it during the process. This will ensure you don’t miss a step. More importantly, you’ll be present in the moment.
There are so many ways to be present with the baking process. Let’s look at being present with ingredients. How often do you prep all your ingredients before you being? Here’s a way to incorporate presence into prepping:
- After you have located an ingredient, open the package and smell it.
- If the item needs to be measured, watch it was you scoop or pour it into the measuring container. How does the ingredient behave? Do you see dust or splashed as your measure it?
- Feel it, where appropriate. Is it hot or cold? Does the measuring process create dust? If you need to chop or blend it, how does that change the texture?
- During the prepping process, listen to the ingredient and sounds in the kitchen. What do you hear?
- Sometimes you need to taste-test an ingredient. Think about what you expect before tasting. Then, what is the actual taste? Enjoy the flavor.
Obviously, working through all these questions for each item you prep could add an extraordinary time to your baking process. That’s not the goal; and not realistic, quite frankly. The goal is that you are aware of what’s happening, and take moments to acknowledge what is in front of you. Maybe you notice one or two things with each ingredient. Maybe you decide to notice all five areas with one particular ingredient. Maybe there’s a spot-check on being present with the ingredients throughout your baking process. Anything will help incorporate mindfulness in your baking.
Anyone close to me knows patience is a growth area for me. Interestingly, I like to work fast, but I don’t like being rushed. Baking is a task you typically can’t successfully rush through. In order to bake mindfully, I incorporate humility and extra time.
In terms of humility, I have to remain teachable. Yes, I have years of experience baking; I also don’t have all the answers. This means, I continue to use my tools (kitchen gadgets, measuring cups, recipes) and resources (the interwebs, my baking community, my elders) to grow. When I make a mistake, I take the opportunity to be present in the mistake and learn from it. Sometimes that means starting over.
When I allow myself extra time during baking, I don’t freak out if something goes wrong. I have time to regroup, adjust, or start over. This helps me stay present and avoid the frustration of being rushed.
Baking with Intent
Mindfulness and Baking go hand-in-hand if I’m open to the union. The tagline of Sabbatical Vibrations Bakery is “Baking with Intent”. I am not perfect at mindful baking, but it is my aspiration. Of course, I want to share the delicious pastries and breads with my customers; I also strive to awaken joy in every moment by being present with good food. Preparing your baked goods mindfully infuses them with good vibes and present energy, which, in turn, I hope you feel when you enjoy them.