“Mom, can I buy this cake? Mom, can I buy that cookies?”
I used to often hear these statements from my child whenever we were out for groceries. He demanded to have his favorite superhero cake. He had seen TV ads, that the superhero instantly gained strength upon eating the cake.
It was time for me to take a decision. A decision to give healthy food to my son or just concede to my son’s demand and buy that cake and happily watch TV again. I decided to start baking at home and started my journey of baking.
Soon baking became passion. I finally started teaching the art of baking through my workshops to all new health-conscious parents. Of course, thinking about kid’s health is not just the mother’s task.
What is baking?
Baking is a form of cooking where you cook flour-based food under prolonged heating. Oven is generally used to bake food but there are a few other methods to bake food without an oven. Homestead Honey mentions a few ways of baking without oven. If you are cookie lover but no oven at home, you will love baking cookies without oven.
Bread is the first thing that comes in your mind when you think of baking. However cookies, cakes, muffins and many other foods are also popular in baking. The world’s oldest oven was discovered in Croatia in 2014 dating back 6500 years ago. Bread baking began in Ancient Greece around 600 BC. (Source Wikipedia)
Egyptians were pioneers in baking and the traces of their baking are as old as 2600 B.C. (Source Baking Times).
Should you be baking at Home?
The thought of baking at home might be overwhelming. At least to people who never thought that they can bake at home. Moreover, you have always bought breads and other baked goodies from market. It seems convenient too. So why should you start baking at home?
Before making a judgment here, you must check the ingredients used in a bakery or a cake shop. Close your eyes for a moment and imagine the giant manufacturing unit. Imagine the number of people working on different machines and making these products. Isn’t it scary that the hygiene of what you are eating is in so many hands? If you regret the compromised products you been eating, the answer to your question of baking at home is Yes.
Remember grandmothers always used to bake at home. You never had to go out to eat those delicious cookies and pie. And anything you ate, never made you sick. Health was never compromised. Grandmothers did not compromise on the quality of ingredient and hygiene.
Are baking goodies healthy?
There are mixed reviews about the health benefits of the baked goods and no point debating on it. But you can make your baked items healthy. Replace the not-so healthy ingredient with a healthy ingredient. Substitute all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour. Reduce the amount of cheese, butter and sugar. After you have made required adjustments, there is no comparison to baked goods. If you are the in the quest of avoiding fried stuff from your food, choose baking.
Can you make baking recipes healthier?
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans report identified fiber as one of the four nutrients for concern. This essential health component is easy to add in most of the baking recipes. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends 25g per day intake of fiber for a 2000 calorie diet.
Research confirms that we are nowhere close to recommended daily intake (RDI) of fiber in our meals. But with baked goods there are plenty of opportunities to increase this intake of fiber in your food. Check this Aloo Tikki Burger recipe where wheat bran added the fiber content of the baked good.
What about the people who are allergic to Gluten?
Gluten is a natural protein available in most of the grains. Some people develop allergies to this protein and shift to Gluten free products. Most of the Gluten free food have low intrinsic fiber contents. It makes necessary to add more fiber to complete the nutritional profile of such food. Baking again comes as a rescue here.
What makes the market baked products unhealthy?
The most commonly used ingredients in the market baked items are:
- Refined Sugar
- All-Purpose Flour
- Artificial flavors and additives
All these ingredients take the baked item towards the unhealthy side. Also, the quality of every ingredient can range from low to high. The quality of ingredient also impacts the quality of market baked items. Do not underestimate the baking process and hygiene at risk in a manufacturing unit. Everybody has heard the news on people kneading the dough with legs.
What’s the point of using preservatives and additives?
A product manufacturer, no matter how small or big, has to undergo the supply chain cycle. From the time of mixing the ingredients till the time you eat, the product has to look fresh and remain edible. For a small vendor this could be a day affair, but for larger company, the cycle could be as long as 6 months. Try noticing the manufacturing dates of the cakes and biscuits you buy from market.
Imagine a product getting manufactured 1000 miles away. Packaging, distribution, stockiest, dealer, whole seller, retailer and finally in your hands. The manufacturer has to ensure that the product throughout stays in selling condition. Preservatives keep the food fresh by limiting the growth of microbes. Additives enhance the appearance of the baked goodies. No wonder why you get fascinated with the market baked goodies and their appearance.
PS: Chemical free baked goodies have limited shelf life.
Why should you say No to market baked goodies?
You realize that there is no escape for a manufacturer from the supply chain cycle. But do you realize that this supply chain cycle is also involved in raw material procurement. The manufacturer buys in bulk to save cost and effort.
Imagine you are eating a cake that was made of eggs which were bought 15 days before to making the cake. Include an average of 2 months of after product supply chain cycle. Would you still like to eat this cake now?
You love to eat cookies but those are made with margarine/shortening. Butter is expensive than margarine, isn’t it? Would you still prefer to eat cookies knowing the harmful effect of margarine on your health?
If your answer is No for all these questions, then you should not buy baked goods from market. Start baking at home.
Why do we fall for market baked items?
- TV Commercials that are making you believe that the product is healthy. The brand ambassadors that are getting paid a fortune to endorse the products. Do they themselves eat those products? God knows.
- The beautiful packaging and the discounts on the product.
- Children who fall for them because they have a love for sugary things. It’s difficult to say No to children.
- The convenience that let you suppress your conscious and compromise with quality.
How does baking at home helps?
When you bake at home, you make decision on the ingredients you use for baking. You will be aware of the benefits and implications of the ingredients of your choice. This puts you in the driving seat. You make a choice if to use margarine or butter. And make your choice of the type of flour to use. You can decide if you like to use refined sugar or brown sugar or no sugar at all.
Furthermore, you are aware of your ingredient, if they are still under their best use period. You then have the ability to replace a filthy ingredient with a fresh ingredient. This is not the case with laboratories called bakeries. Further, you can decide what should be the quantity of each ingredient that you are using. It’s an old saying
Excess of everything is dangerous
Assume you decide to use butter over margarine as butter is healthier than margarine. Great choice. But, you still like to limit the quantity of butter in your baked goodies. You gain all these control under your bake at home environment.
How does bake at home helps in controlling portion size?
Restaurants have standard serving size, they will prefer to serve and charge more. When you have the food on the table, you will not prefer to waste it for obvious reasons. You tend to eat more than you would otherwise. Eating at home does not come with all these challenges. Even if you have cooked/baked more than required, you can always save it for later.
At home you have a choice of the size of baked goodies that you like to make. Replace the large size muffin with small size muffin. A simple change in the size of your baked goods helps you achieve portion control.
What about the time, equipment, and ingredients cost associated with baking at home?
If you think that the restaurant is selling food cheap, you must think again. They are in the business of making money by selling food. Rent, electricity, manpower, furniture, maintenance, and profit has to come from the food. Do you think baking at home is expensive than this?
Do you believe that when you need to eat something quick, going out and eating saves time? The answer will be no, unless you are compromising by eating junk food. Even if you go to a fine dining and order something healthy, it will take good time and money. Average time to eat food in a nice restaurant is 45 minutes.
At home, in less time, you can cook/bake something healthy for you without spending much. Day to day baking doesn’t need much ingredients or equipment. You can start baking for your family with few basic tools for baking. However, there are a few basic baking ingredients, that you must keep at home to start baking. There is no comparison to fresh baked goods. The aroma and freshness of each eatable will make it worth for baking.
How baking at home can connect people?
Baking is a great way to bring people together. When you bake at home, you can take care of everyone’s choice and taste. Your every bake gives personal touch to it. This is an indirect way to show your concern, care and love for your family. You can involve your kids or family members while baking. This will make the baking time as fun time.
“Family who bakes together, stays together” – Twisted proverb
According to a survey done by The Telegraph, Baking is regarded as great family bonding time, say 59 per cent of Britons.
How does Baking relax mind?
Baking is meditative and helps in depression and anxiety. Meditation to me means awareness. Anything that you do with utmost awareness is meditation. So is Baking. You need to have your complete attention when you bake. I wouldn’t be a lie to say that bakers are happier than others.
Baking is an addiction. Once you start baking, you would not go for market goodies. Watch somebody baking. They are just in themselves. It’s such a therapeutic to bake for you and your family.
According to a survey by Huffington Post, UK, baking rules because it helps relieve stress. The survey found that one in three of those asked say they feel more stressed than they did five years ago. 80% of them took baking to help alleviate the pressure.
“Baking helps lift my depression. It can’t cure it, but it helps,” says John Whaite, 2012 winner of The Great British Bake Off. He was diagnosed with manic depression in 2005. Read this full news on BBC.
Baking stimulates all your five senses. Eyes appreciates the creativity, ears love the thumping sound, tongue loves the taste, nose love aroma and skin loves the feel of a baked item. When all your five senses are involved you feel exuberant.
Can baking be considered as full time career? Can it help make money?
If you thought that baking is for passion and for fun, you should know that the demand of serious bakers is rising at 7%. Bureau of labor statistics predicts 7 percent continuous rise in employment of bakers between 2014 till 2024.
There is serious demand of professionals who expertise in healthy baking. Today’s generation is much more aware and conscious towards health. There are plethora of opportunities for those who wants to make baking as their full time career. Bakeries, home based business, specialized chef, workshops, and the sky is the limit.
Need inspiration? Read stories of successful female home bakers.
Once you are inspired you would be looking to learn in-depth about baking. These recommended baking books for beginners will be good to start with.
Did I miss anything? Why not share your views in the comments section? And if you liked the post, subscribe to the email newsletter and be the first one to read new posts.