Baking for sanity
A sure sign of my anxious state of mind must be the amount of baking that has been going on around here. When my head is shaken and stirred the kitchen beckons and I sooth my thoughts with familiar actions of weighing, sieving, whisking and folding. When baking for therapy the less machine inte
rvention the better, there is no desire to hurry on these occasions, the end result is just a bonus and it is the process that is important.

The promise of a school fund-raising evening led to a flurry of fairy cakes last week, eagerly decorated by Tilly who certainly cannot be said to skimp when it comes to cake decorating.

There is always bread and in the last week or so we have been amply supplied with wheaten, granary and crusty white loaves. Flapjacks, chocolate chip cookies and ginger snaps are regularly rotated and make welcome lunch box additions.

Of course, it will be no surprise dear reader, all this baking necessitated a new book, because when you are not actually baking there is still plenty of therapeutic pleasure to be had from turning pages and thinking of baking.

Rachel Allen's Bake book. The 30 day muffin mix is a revelation I tell you. You simply mix up a large batch of her muffin batter and keep it in the fridge for up to 30 days. Take out a quantity, add any extra ingredients you fancy and bake at wish. I was very sceptical about this, I didn't see how it could possibly work as muffins normally require baking quite quickly after mixing but it does work and it really is a brilliant idea, almost as good as freezing half your cookie dough. The day I mixed the batter I made the rhubarb and strawberry muffins which were pronounced splendid. The recipe contains wholemeal flour and bran which makes a rather more wholesome muffin than I normally bake but this certainly does not detract from them at all and indeed made me feel a whole lot more comfortable about serving them for breakfast. I added chunks of apple, rhubarb and cinnamon to the breakfast batch and they were so good. I realise that making muffins for breakfast isn't a huge stretch, but to be able to come downstairs, ladle out a batch of this ready-mix, chop up a bit of fruit (or instruct a small child to chop up some fruit) and then sit back and browse through the paper whilst your kitchen fills with the warm scents of cinnamon and coffee really is a good way to start the weekend.


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