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Therapeutic baking

We had some terribly sad news recently, of the tragic and senseless variety. I have been ambling around since then feeling useless and insignificant. My go to coping mechanism is baking but I am sheerly uninsprired. I have plenty of bread and rolls already in the freezer and I don't have the passion right now for anything too challenging (i.e., say, croissants). Fellow bakers, what would be a good, well liked use of my flour, salt and grief? (We're good on garden variety cookies, too.)

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  1. My condolences for your situation. I also bake for therapy (and I'm a psychotherapist!), so I understand completely. My go-to is to bake sweets, so cake or pie would work, and even if you don't need them immediately, you can freeze them well.

    Best wishes to you.

    1 Reply
    1. again, sorry to hear you are suffering....my recommendation would be batches of small cakes. The decorating could be absorbing and mindless. Alternatively, how about scones - sweet or savoury - or try some pastry such as cheese straws which is difficult enough to be distracting but not too technically challenging. Chin up.

      1 Reply
      1. re: flashria

        I'm sorry for your loss. I also bake therapeutically. Like, flashria, my thoughts went to decorating for the focus it demands and the creative/emotional outlet it provides. Small cakes is a great idea; I know you said you're good on garden variety cookies, but what about sugar cookies with a complicated or interesting royal icing design? The rolling of the dough, tinting the icings and piping help me feel more stable, and the pretty outcome, more optimistic.

      2. These might cheer you --
        They are not too challenging, but require a little attention. They are delicious, and pretty.

        1 Reply
        1. re: blue room

          Those look perfect, and totally different than anything I've made yet! Fabulous suggestion, thank you.

        2. Pasta-making, like bread-making, allows for rhythmic kneading, which can be cathartic and contemplatively soothing, like other repetitive motions.

          3/14 is Pie Day, if you need inspiration. I saw adorable Pie Pops on www.pieitforwardcookbook.com.
          Cut out pairs of dough with cookie cutters, seal together over a dollop of filling and a popsicle stick. Vent and sprinkle with decorative sugar before baking.

          1 Reply
          1. re: greygarious

            oh, yes, the therapy of kneading bread dough! Never understood why folks use a mixer, when
            'doughing" by hand is so lovely.

          2. Try making an authentic Strudel.
            Supposedly you need to align the gluten strands by slamming the dough on the counter. The dough is a lot easier than Phyllo.

            http://youtu.be/6ZcXjDMD_y4 (About 3 minutes into the video.)

            1. I find it most therapeutic to bake and then give it others who don't usually get home made treats. It could be friends and family, or bring it to the fire station to thank them for what they do. It might help to send some happiness out to the world, kind of a yin and yang. I'm sorry to hear you're going through it.

              3 Replies
              1. re: chowser

                I agree. We don't eat a lot of sweets, but I love to bake when stress overcomes me. It's a nice feeling to share the final product with someone. A favorite is lemon bars... I use Martha Stewart's recipe for creamy lemon bars.

                And brownies. Who doesn't love a good brownie? Filled with something gooey or topped with pretty much anything... That may help you in ways you'd never expect. Hope things start to get better.

                1. re: chowser

                  Good idea! Seems so simple, our fire station is run by volunteers, and it looks like they keep some people there pretty much round the clock.

                  1. re: kmlmgm

                    yup, fire station, homeless shelters, battered women's shelter, even the local pet rescue folks--helps, at times of senseless tragedies, to give to others.

                2. how about biscotti? not difficult, but they require more time and effort than standard cookies. you can play with the variations/add-ins and even drizzle or coat with chocolate. and of course then you have them on hand to dunk in a comforting cup of tea or coffee when you're feeling down.

                  i'm sorry you're having a tough time. i hope the baking does help take your mind off things.

                  1. I agree that focusing on something that occupies your hands and attention but isn't terribly challenging is a good way to channel grief. Very wise are those who suggest giving the fruits of your labor to others. Cookies, brownies, quickbreads, pies--even granola.
                    But, yes, try to keep busy. I hope you feel better soon.

                    1. i'm so sorry to hear about your tragic news. i understand the catharsis needed.

                      i too was going to suggest the "bake and pay it forward" route.
                      i don't typically suggest cupcakes, but in this case, they're individual, good to deliver (to your fire station) and will enable you to have a little artsy time frosting them. or make pieces to stick in the frosting using royal icing or fondant.

                      other thoughts-
                      bread pudding
                      rice or tapioca pudding
                      truffles -- easy and mindless but methodical rolling centers and coating as desired
                      jams, lemon curd, chocolate sauce, caramel
                      things to store - like croutons, ice cream
                      homemade nutella - i have a great one if you like

                      may time soften the blow and help your heart heal...