A recipe for relaxation: Why baking is the trendiest new therapy


Lindsay Middleton

Unless you have been hiding under a huge rock, you will have noticed how popular baking has become over the past few years. This is no longer a pastime reserved for grannies, cosy mums or home economics classrooms. Baking, alongside healthy eating, thick-rimmed glasses and bone-broth is undeniably cool again, and a force to be reckoned with.

14.5 million viewers tuned in to watch the final of the Great British Bake Off this month, more people than voted Conservative in May’s general election. Clearly watching weekly cake baking has become a cosy tradition for an enormous number of people. Personally, I find nothing more lovely than tuning in to the pastel-coloured, bunting-clad Bake Off tent, with its jingling theme tunes and Mel and Sue exchanging witty, and occasionally raunchy, puns about buns. But the beneficial escapism of the Bake Off experience need not stop at the television, especially now that the series has ended and left a Mary Berry shaped hole in all of our lives.

As society’s understanding of of mental health and stress appears to be improving, the number of ‘DIY therapies’ available has skyrocketed. Adult colouring books and puzzles flood the shelves of Waterstones and next to them are the recipe books penned by the winners of the Bake Off. Baking is a fun, creative way of dealing with tension, not only because you end up with some delicious comfort food at the end of it.

As mid-terms, essays and exams loom ever closer (stress for us students is about to go through the roof) baking might be something you should turn to as an escape from studying over hitting the pub or watching a whole Netflix series, and here are a few reasons why.

First of all, baking is a pretty relaxing thing to do. When you come home from a day of hard classes and want to curl up in a ball and have a nap, why not do some baking instead? It is something of a science. You can’t just throw a bunch of ingredients in a cake tin and hope for the best, everything must be weighed and measured properly. Because of this, it gives you a wonderful sense of control, and security. You know that if you follow the instructions in the recipe exactly, your actions will result in something delicious. This (for me, anyway) is the opposite feeling of deadline dread, or worrying that you might not have done enough in that essay to get you the grade you needed. With baking there is no gamble; you are in control. If you use it to get yourself in this mind-set, you will probably find it easier to calm down, and apply your newfound control over life to your uni deadlines. Plus, writing an essay is infinitely better if you do it whilst eating cake.

Secondly, baking can be a great way of getting closer to people. Hardly anyone will be annoyed if you offer them something home-baked and delicious to eat. You will find that if you get your flatmates involved, or even just share the end product with them, the bin rota just might be that bit easier. I’ve been known to take a Tupperware of homemade cake to the library to relieve a study session, and it provides an excellent incentive to get your presentation done. I once knew a girl who took some truffles she had made into a tutorial; everyone was her best friend for that hour, including the tutor.

The other plus for us students is that baking can be remarkably cheap. If you go for a simple recipe, say, scones or a Victoria sponge, you will only need to buy a few ingredients the first time you make it. After that, you will have enough for several more batches. You don’t even need to fork out for a recipe book, as you can find almost anything you want to make on the internet. Obviously, there is a huge amount of baking equipment you could buy, (when does one NEED a proving drawer?) but you will be surprised how much you can accomplish with a wooden spoon and cheap cake tin from Lidl.

Put simply,, baking can be incredibly beneficial. As long as you don’t forgo your studying entirely for baking, or binge on cake too often, there are very few downsides. Whether you see it as a social or personal activity, something to share or keep to yourself, getting into your own little Bake Off tent will do you good. Society sees baking as a symbol of nourishment and goodness for a reason, and if you’re ever feeling the need for a bit more love or control in your life, get in the kitchen bake yourself happy.


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