Baking is a cosy way to practise mindfulness. There's comfort and gentle distraction in weighing and measuring, following a recipe and repetitive actions like stirring and chopping.
Hygge is the art of finding the cosiness in everyday moments, so hygge and baking are the perfect ingredients for a bit of kitchen therapy.
Quieten the mind’s chatter by absorbing yourself in a spot of baking. It doesn’t really matter what it is or more importantly, whether you think you’re any good at it – the distraction is in the doing. The simple meditative actions of kneading, rolling out and bashing biscuits for cheesecake bases can soothe and release tension.
Try to be mindful of each element of the process - enjoy the feel of the chilled butter and soft flour as you turn them to sandy rubble, take pleasure in marbling the cream into chocolate or the zing of lemon in the air when it hits the grater.
Practise the deep breathing exercise below as you chop, stir or tidy away. Visualise worries being washed away with the dishwater.
Equal Breathing Exercise:
Equal breathing means inhaling and exhaling in equal measures, which helps you to focus and relax. You can increase the breathing counts to deepen your breath if you feel you need to.
1. Inhale slowly through your nose for the count of three.
2. When you're ready, exhale through your nose for the count of three.
3. Continue with this pattern until you feel calmer.
A radio on a low volume can provide a soft, homely soundtrack for pottering around your kitchen.
Soothing the stresses of the day by peeling, chopping and stirring along to a podcast or rolling out mince pie pastry to Christmas carols is sometimes all you need to feel cosy and safe.
The very act of baking holds special memories for many of us as we baked with our parents, grandparents or relatives when we were children.
Take a trip down memory lane by using the bakeware or books you’ve inherited or grab a pen and a piece of paper, pick up the phone and ask for that recipe. Surprise your loved one with the results!
Celebrating nature is an important aspect of practising hygge, so incorporate it into your baking through foraged ingredients such as brambles, elderflowers, elderberries and sloes, or celebrate the best of what nature has to offer by selecting seasonal ingredients.
Embrace the seasons in your kitchen too, a wooden bowl of lemons or a basket of apples evoke the beauty and generosity of the seasons in a simple, understated way.
The most valued ingredient of hygge baking is loved ones to share it with! When we serve up a cake we’ve baked, we’re also serving up the time and care we spent making it.
So many of us (myself included) have been too bothered by whether the house is tidy enough to enjoy last minute get togethers and if the events of the last two years have anything to teach us, it’s that sharing good times with good food and good people is so precious.