Baking astounds me. Surprisingly, it’s like nursing: it has the precision and chemistry of science, whilst having the creativity and freedom of art. I love how a handful of ingredients can make something so deliciously rewarding and pleasing to body, mind and those you love. Maybe I’m over-analysing it but that’s how baking feels to me. There’s a sense of calm and control as I gently sift, and stir, and combine the ingredients that I have concisely weighed out. Then there’s the anticipation as I wait whilst the humble ingredients bake in the oven. Then there’s the excitement as I rush to try what I have created (or recreated); burning my tongue in foolish haste. Finally, with child-like glee I call to Tom to try what I have baked; shoving a generous piece of cupcake, muffin or sponge into his hand, watching him and anxiously waiting for his verdict.
I wouldn’t want to bake for a living though. Baking is my escape from living yet, paradoxically, through baking I feel alive. It’s my time to myself, my time to forget about all that’s going on around me and in my life.
Before I became vegan, I rarely baked. My focus was on cooking up gluten-free meals. Yet since being vegan, and consequently escaping many symptoms that haunted me, I have baked more than I ever had previously. When I started eating a gluten-free diet I hoped that I had finally found freedom from the ailments that I thought were just part of being averagely healthy (whatever that is!). Now, eating both a gluten-free and vegan diet, I have learnt what it is to truly answer “I’m well, thanks” when people ask how I am. I have found escape from the niggling worry of whether my body is going to “randomly” react to what I was eating and thereby clouding my mind, trapping me in this turmoil. Don’t get me wrong; I still suffer from IBS but it has melted into the background of my life.
I have learnt what it is to have hobbies and other interests again. It is as though I have resumed some of that innocent and overwhelming excitement,often associated with being young, for all that there is to experience, and practice, and learn. My thoughts are free to wander, to reflect on matters that don’t concern my diet and my body. My life has become full of people, many of whom I have never met but value a great deal, who share similar passions and interests. My faith has deepened and taken on a new reality in my life. Is this all from eating and trying to live more compassionately? I don’t know, but it sure does taste and feel good.
Humble Choco-Nana Muffins (adapted from VWAV)
6 oz gluten-free plain flour blend
5 oz golden caster sugar
1 oz + 1 heaped tbsp cocoa powder
2 1/2 tsps baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
250 ml soya milk
120 ml rapeseed oil
half one large, ripe banana, mashed
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 oz chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 190C (fan) and line or lightly grease a muffin/cupcake tin.
Sift the dry ingredients (minus the chocolate chips) together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl whisk together the soya milk, oil, mashed banana, and vanilla extract.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until well-combined. Fold in the chocolate chips and decant the mixture into the cupcake tin. Bake for 20 mins. Leave to cool at least a little before devouring so as not to burn your tongue 🙂
You could frost/ice these but I ran out of time and think they’re awesome on their own. I even enjoyed mine for breakfast (oh yeah).