Menu ×

My Homegrown Therapy: Bread-making

May 16, 2024

My Homegrown Therapy: Bread-making

Everyone has their own way of unwinding, reflecting, removing the hectic from their minds, and creating space in their lives to just be. Often, moments of calm and tranquility can feel like a rare luxury. Fortunately, I have found a simple yet profound activity that can soothe my soul and nourish my body and mind: bread-making.

For me, bread-making isn’t just about creating delicious loaves. It’s a therapeutic practice that offers me a multitude of benefits for my mental health and well-being.

Making bread requires my full attention. After all, I’m not Paul Hollywood, who can make bread in his sleep. So, from measuring ingredients to kneading dough and shaping the loaves or rolls, every step requires me to focus and be fully present in the moment. I find that it helps quiet the chatter in my mind and brings a sense of calm and clarity.

I love kneading and knocking back the dough; the rhythmic motion of kneading dough can be incredibly soothing and meditative. As I work the dough with my hands, I release any tension and stress, allowing me to relax and unwind.

I’m a pacifist, an optimist, and hopefully a kind and caring person. I look for the good in everyone but, sometimes, people make it very difficult!! This is where knocking back the dough comes in. After the dough has proved, it has to be knocked back – punched to let out the accumulated air that has helped it rise at this point. It’s so good. I focus all my frustration on knocking out the dough (sometimes imagining the person who has been rude or unkind to me), and within a few seconds, I’m back to the rhythmic kneading and serenity.

There’s something deeply satisfying about creating anything with your hands, and bread-making offers me a sense of personal accomplishment. Watching the dough rise and then transform in the oven into a golden-brown loaf fills me with pride and satisfaction, and, on days when I need it, it gives my self-esteem and confidence a much-needed boost.

Baking, in general, is very creative. Now, I can’t sketch or paint. I’m hopeless. However, I have found that, when I dare to emulate Mr Hollywood, I can create my own bread masterpieces. No, they are not of Great British Bake Off standard, but they look artisan (I love that word) and taste good. So, I use my bread-making time to create and experiment. Basically, I’m a bread-making artist in my own kitchen, and the only people I have to please are Daisy and me. She’s the Cockapoo connoisseur of crusty bread!

Baking bread is also nostalgic for me. It reminds me of my mother and maternal grandmother. I use my mother’s baking bowl and, sometimes, my grandmother’s loaf tins, which she was given as a wedding present in the early 1920s. There’s a feeling of tradition, continuity, and honouring the strong women who shaped my life.

Last but not least, the aroma of freshly baked bread fills the kitchen – it’s enough to lift anyone’s spirits. The sensory experience of bread making—from the feel of the dough between your fingers to the sight of a perfectly risen loaf and the taste of warm, crusty bread straight from the oven—awakens the senses and brings joy to the soul.

So, give bread-making a try. It’s more than just a culinary endeavour – it’s a powerful tool for nurturing mental health and well-being, allowing you to find moments of peace, joy, and connection amid life’s chaos. So, the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed, consider turning to the therapeutic art of bread making to nourish your body, mind, and soul.

Photo by Wesual Click