Has lockdown got you baking, too?
I have long turned to either baking or cleaning when I am stressed. It's something about creating order and something clean, beautiful or tasty out of chaos that helps me feel a little calmer and less at sea.
So far I have been very aware of all that is going on in the world with coronavirus - part of my day job requires staying up to date with the latest news and happenings both globally and locally - and yet I have been able to keep the stress of it under control, and not feel too frazzled. I have only been able to do this by leaning on tools that I have picked up, been taught and used for years and years. I am starting to see the benefits of all that self-work, for which I am grateful, but I also realize there are times when something hits me, or I am less resilient than I think I am in response to a fairly mundane stress, and I know that is a direct result of all of the uncertainty and fear in the world at this present moment.
All we can do is keep breathing, stay focused on the present, and remind ourselves that all we can control is ourselves. And, if you have tools in your mental health toolbox, give yourself permission to use them now! Put yourself first. It truly is an example of looking after yourself first so you can better look after others.
One of those tools for me is baking. So far, I have made chocolate chip cookies, key lime pie, and, just this weekend, rock cakes. I am already trying to work out what I will make next! (Even as we run out of freezer space!)
This is a recipe that can be used either for rock cakes or scones, but I have always had better luck making flakier buttery scones with buttermilk, and I didn't have that on hand (with limited trips to the supermarket, we have to make do!). So these came out more like rock cakes, which is fine by me. Ultimately, both rock cakes and scones are ideal vehicles for a range of yummy toppings, whether butter and honey, cream and jam, you name it.
Here's the recipe, and if you want a quick visual of how to make these, check out this video.
Makes 12 large cakes or 20-24 small cakes
- 3 cups self-raising flour (can swap for cup-for-cup gluten-free flour)
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 4-6 tbsp white sugar (can swap for xylitol or, as I used, monkfruit sweetener)
- 100g unsalted butter, cold
- 2 eggs
- Whole milk (see method for amount)
- 1/2-1 cup raisins or sultanas OR mix-in of your choice (chocolate chips, lemon zest and blueberries, etc.)
- Mix together flour, baking powder and sweetener in a large mixing bowl.
- Cut butter into small cubes and rub into flour mixture with your fingers until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
- Crack two eggs into a measuring jug and then top up with whole milk until you reach the 300ml mark.
- Pour about half of the egg/milk mixture into the flour mixture (can also do this by making a well in the centre of the flour mixture and slowly working the liquid into the flour).
- Here is the key to a good scone/rock cake product: Do not overmix! Mix until just combined and gradually add liquid until the dough is a soft, sticky dough.
- Roll out the dough on a floured surface and cut out your cakes or scones using a round cookie cutter (or some fun shapes - I made some heart shapes!)
- Bake at 400 F for 10 minutes or until cooked through the centre. Serve warm with your toppings of choice.