By Steff Shave
The aroma fills the room, and your taste buds begin to dance, the smell is redolent of happy memories. Ping! The timer indicates it is finally time to retrieve the delectable treat from the oven; perfectly golden and a beautiful representation of your patience and hard work. Baking seems to be one of the most popular pastimes during this current lockdown, and there is a reason behind this.
There is more to baking than just the combining of ingredients. Not only do you end up with fresh-from-the-oven-goods, but it turns out baking is beneficial for your mental health. It is a fantastic creative output, and there are set directions to follow, which allow you to be in control and is a means through which people often express their emotions. Baking for yourself and others is a form of mindfulness.
“To live mindfully is to live in the moment and reawaken oneself to the present, rather than dwelling on the past or anticipating the future,” as stated by Psychology Today. This shows that baking allows one to refocus on something other than one’s worries. It is a tactile activity through which one creates something tangible. Julia Ponsonby, the author of The Art of Mindful Baking, says,
“Our hands are our most immediate tools and they work in perfect harmony with our brains and our emotions to manifest the diverse possibilities that grow in our imaginations.”
During unprecedented times like these, we want to bring joy to those around us. Watching the delight on a loved one’s face as they take their first bite is sure enough to make anyone happy. Baking is a way to show others we care and express how we are feeling. According to Donna Picus, associate professor of psychological and brain sciences at Boston University, “There’s a lot of literature for connection between creative expression and overall wellbeing. Whether it’s painting or it’s making music [or baking], there is a stress relief that people get from having some kind of an outlet and a way to express themselves.”
Remember stressed spelled backwards is desserts. With that in mind we have put together our top 5 baking recipes.
- Gimme Delicious: Gluten-Free Banana Bread
- Delish Sister: Refined Sugar-Free Raw Tart
- Taste of Home: Peanut Butter Oat Cookies
- Bakerita: Ultimate Gluten-Free Brownies
- Plant and Sprout: Chocolate Cake]
The breakout star of lockdown is bananas, in particular banana bread. After numerous recipe attempts, we truly believe this is THE best banana bread. Substitute the gluten-free flour for normal if that is your dietary preference. It is the perfect treat to accompany your afternoon tea or toast a piece in the morning with a spread of almond butter as a delicious breakfast.
2 cups gluten free flour
4-5 very ripe bananas mashed (1 ½ cups)
½ cup sugar
½ cup butter 1 stick, softened
2 tablespoons milk
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ – 1 cup chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 175 degrees C. Lightly grease a loaf pan, set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, set aside.
- In a separate bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Stir in eggs, milk, vanilla, and mashed bananas until well blended. Stir the banana mixture and chocolate chips into flour mixture; stir just to moisten.
- Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.
- Bake in preheated oven for 50 to 55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the loaf comes out clean. Let bread cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool another 30 minutes. Slice and serve warm!
Delish Sisters: Refined Sugar Free Raw Tart
Undoubtedly one of the most delectable baked goods. Not only is it free of refined sugar but, with an oat base, it is gluten-free too.
For the base:
1 ½ cups of gluten free oats
50 grams Dates
1 teaspoon honey
Pinch of salt
4 tablespoons coconut oil
2 tablespoons water
For the caramel filling:
200 grams chopped dates
4 tablespoons coconut oi
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 teaspoon caramel essence
½ cup coconut milk
½ tablespoon salt
For the topping:
1 slab Lindt 70% chocolate
1 teaspoon coconut oil
¼ cup toasted almonds
Pinch of sea salt
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
- Blend the oats until fine like flour.
- Add the dates, honey and salt and blend again until combined.
- Add the coconut oil and water until you have a dough.
- Press into a 20 x 20cm cake tin, prick the base with a fork and bake for 20 minutes.
- To make the caramel place all the ingredients in the blender and blitz for 5-7 minutes until very smooth.
- Once the tart shell has baked fill it with the date caramel.
- Melt the chocolate with 1 teaspoon of coconut oil.
- Pour the melted chocolate over the caramel and top with toasted nuts and a sprinkle of sea salt.
- Set in the freezer for 30 minutes and then serve.
½ cup chunky peanut butter
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 ¼ cups quick-cooking oats
½ teaspoon baking soda
- In a small bowl, cream peanut butter and brown sugar until fluffy.
- Beat in egg. Add oats and baking soda to creamed mixture; mix well.
- Roll mixture into small balls, flatten slightly and place on greased baking tray.
- Bake at 175 degrees C for 6-8 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool. Store in an airtight container.
Indulge in these fudge-like brownies which are paleo-friendly as well as refined sugar-free. It seems too good to be true- they certainly don’t taste gluten-free and are a fantastic go-to for any birthday treat.
⅔ cup blanched almond flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cacao powder
170 grams dark chocolate coarsely chopped
½ cup coconut oil
¾ cup coconut sugar
2 eggs room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup mini chocolate chips
For the frosting:
60 grams dark chocolate
3 tablespoons almond butter
1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 tablespoons almond milk or non-dairy milk of choice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 175 degrees C. Line with parchment and lightly grease an 20 x 20 cm baking pan.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the almond flour, salt, and cocoa powder together.
- Put the chocolate and coconut oil in a large glass bowl and microwave for 30 seconds. Stir, and repeat until the chocolate and coconut oil are completely melted and smooth. Add the coconut sugar. Whisk until completely combined. The mixture should be room temperature.
- Add 2 eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Add the vanilla and stir. Do not overbeat the batter at this stage or your brownies will be cakey.
- Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate mixture. Using a rubber spatula, fold the flour mixture into the chocolate until just a bit of the flour mixture is visible. Fold in the chocolate chips.
- Bake in preheated oven for 28-32 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with moist crumbs attached. Don’t over bake!! Cool brownies completely before frosting.
- For the frosting, combine the dark chocolate, almond butter, and coconut oil in a small saucepan over low heat. Let melt, stirring frequently. Once melted, whisk in the almond milk and vanilla extract until combined. Spread on top of cooled brownies and place in the refrigerator to set.
- Once chilled, cut brownies into 16 equal squares with a very sharp knife.
- Brownies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Plant-based and easy to make- what more could you ask for! This is the ideal cake to make when celebrating a birthday or works well as a dessert after a lazy Sunday lunch.
For the cake:
1 cup dates
1 ¼ cup water
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
cup cacao powder
1 cup all purpose/ spelt flour/ gluten free
½ bar 90% dark chocolate – chopped
For the frosting:
1 ripe avocado
¼ cup plant based milk
2-3 Tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons cacao powder
- Preheat your oven to 175 degrees C.
- Line a cake pan with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a food processor, blend together the dates and water.
- Add in the remaining cake ingredients, except for the chopped chocolate, and pour the batter into the cake pan.
- Bake the cake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- While the cake is cooling, blend together the frosting ingredients in a food processor until smooth.
- Once your cake is cooled top it with your avocado mousse.
- Now add some toppings such as fresh blueberries and chopped peanuts.
Could baking become the next type of art therapy? Perhaps. We encourage you to give one these recipes a try or any other that may be to your liking. Enjoy the process of creating something delicious while at the same time allowing your worries to disappear. If you do try any of these recipes, please tag KeiSei as we would love to share in the delight.