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Baking makes me happy

Our latest guest blogger, Suzy Pelta is the winner of ITV1's Lorraine Cake Club Competition and is a recipe writer, food judge, and demonstration chef. As well as food blogging for The Metro, and writing ‘Miracle Mug Cakes and Other Cheat’s Bakes’ for Ryland Peters and Small, Suzy is Marie Curie's Blooming Great Tea Party signature cake creator. 

Baking was not really something I grew up doing. In fact it wasn’t until my son was born and I decided that I wanted to bake everything for his first birthday party, that I caught the ‘baking bug’. 

I remember being covered in icing sugar, with butter in my hair and flour across every surface, feeling so very happy. 

From then on, baking has been my relaxation, my ‘me’ time. Living in a busy house with three children, baking gives me a chance to immerse myself in creativity, be methodical and have a lot of fun.

The busier my life got, the more I found it so important for me to have some time away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life to bake. I found the whole process of weighing and measuring really mindful. I enjoyed just focusing on ingredients and numbers and nothing else. Mixing and kneading also became a really effective way to release tension and stress. 

Once I found a love for baking I would spend many hours in the kitchen creating different recipe ideas (that were all based around something I wanted to eat). I would then get so much pleasure from seeing my family and friends enjoy my bakes, it would make me want to bake more, so I did! 

Soon I was creating lots and lots of recipes. My premise was that they always had to be easy and accessible. Recipes that anyone could make. I wanted people to get the same feeling as I did when they baked. I wanted them to feel proud of what they had made, that they had achieved something. 

I love having friends around to try my baked creations. It’s a great excuse to have people over when you have a table laden with baked goods! And who doesn’t want a slice of cake? I also found that sometimes it was easier for me to talk to friends about my feelings when we were enjoying a sweet treat together. 

I’ve recently looked after both of my parents as they battled cancer, a battle which sadly both of them lost. Whilst they were undergoing gruelling chemotherapy I would find my kitchen my safe space. I would find myself humming and smiling whilst measuring and stirring and mixing. Baking would be a very welcome break from real life, a distraction from hospitals and doctors’ appointments. And most importantly of all, my cookies and cakes would bring smiles to my parents’ faces. 

I see a therapist once a week to talk through my bereavements and anything else that I need to talk about. I am so glad that I have my baking too as this gives me the time to do something for myself. 

I’ve shared a simple brownie mug cake recipe here which can help start you on your baking journey (you can literally make a cake in less than 5 minutes!)

There are lots of great recipes available online, including on my blog: so why not give baking a go and see if you love it too? 

With thanks to Suzy's publisher, Ryland Peters & Small, for letting us share the recipe. Photographer, Adrian Lawrence.

On My Mind has a self-care page that includes 86 self-care strategies – Baking & cooking is one strategy. Browse them all and discover what works for you. And if you’ve tried something you can let us know if it helped and how it helped using the ‘Did this activity work for you?’ button on any self-care page.