Mindful Baking at the School of Artisan Food.

Mindfulness is a concept that, in the last few years, has become increasingly discussed in the news, media outlets, blogs, books and so on. You’ve probably already experienced being mindful without realising it, for example, you may have felt stressed and realised your shoulders were tense. In its simplest form, mindfulness is paying attention to the present moment. It can help improve mental wellbeing as well as many other beneficial factors. 

There is something special about baking bread. Every loaf you make is a small celebration in itself. Not only is it the staple of many diets, but there is something nurturing and miraculous about taking flour, salt, fresh yeast and water, and allowing time, patience and science to do the rest.

Baking bread has many therapeutic benefits such as, kneading and shaping the dough to the aromatic aromas and the comforting delights of enjoying and sharing homemade produce with loved ones. Last year, The Real Bread Campaign released the findings of a pilot study into the mental wellbeing benefits of bread making. Participants said baking made them feel happier and more relaxed, creative and less anxious, and had given them a sense of purpose and achievement. Similarly, a survey carried out by Harris (2015) revealed that, according to the British public, there is no better aroma than freshly baked bread. Other comforting homely scents included, bacon, freshly brewed coffee and cakes baking in the oven.

The School of Artisan Food combines the benefits of bread-making and mindfulness in a new workshop starting this month called Mindful Bread Making. The workshop is lead by Ian Waterland who has worked in mental health for 28 years before taking an Advanced Diploma of Artisan Baking at the School in 2013. Ian runs a successful micro-bakery in Leicestershire called Knead Good Bread Bakery, and also teaches people with mental health issues and learning disabilities the joys of baking bread.

“Everyone would benefit from mindfulness in today’s modern fast-paced world. Many of us do use it but not consciously or as well as we could. It’s actually an ancient technique. It’s about being present in the moment. That’s where making bread comes in. When making bread, you have to use all your senses and stay in the moment. How does it look, taste, smell, is the texture right and so on. I believe that the process of making bread is therapeutic, it is much healthier than buying bread and can be an effective strategy in combating stress and of course, it’s also fun.” – Ian Waterland.

Located in the tranquil grounds of the historic Welbeck Estate, the workshop beautifully combines mindfulness with baking homemade bread. It is a wonderful course and no prior experience is necessary which is perfect for beginners to bread enthusiasts alike. 

Upon arrival, light refreshments were served and was lovely to chat to other students before the workshop commenced. Ian prompts the bakers throughout the bread-making process to reflect, use senses and really take time to notice the smaller, finer details. The workshop has a very relaxing atmosphere and Ian uses the gaps between kneading the dough and proving for discussing mindfulness, its history and practicing techniques. Topics include; the origins of mindfulness, mindful baking, using senses within mindfulness, and its benefits. Ian also draws attention to flour varieties, discusses and demonstrates the no-knead method, shaping and baking tips, and how to be a mindful baker. 

When the bread is in the oven, the School of Artisan Food provides a wonderful lunch and an opportunity to buy from their mini shop which houses lovely cook books, utensils and some baking ingredients. Overall, it was a lovely day and I came away learning so much more about mindfulness, how to incorporate it into my lifestyle and of course, how to make delicious bread. I would highly recommend this course and I believe it will be very popular. 

If you are interested in this course, please visit the School’s website by clicking the link: School of Artisan Food

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1 Comment

  1. Ian
    13/09/2018 / 10:09 am

    It was great to have you on the course Elizabeth. I am really happy that you enjoyed it and found it useful. Ian

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