“Don’t eat white bread, it’s made from all-purpose flour which will get stuck in your intestine”,
shouted her mother. Eat fresh homemade bread and she wondered why her mom so particular about eating homemade fresh bread even though she had purchased the bread that very morning right when it just arrived in the shop? “Can’t get fresher than that! Can it?”, she thought to herself.
Years passed by and the cycle of life turned and she became a mother to a son who loves cakes and cookies. One fine day while the two were out to shop, her son demanded to have his favorite superhero cake because he had observed that the superhero instantly gained strength upon eating the cake. She was perplexed and felt as if she was standing at the cross roads where she has to make a choice to give healthy food to her son or just concede to her son’s demand and buy that cake and happily watch TV again. She chose the first option and hence began her journey of baking.
This is the story of every mom who stands at the crossroad to take a decision but only a few are able to make that choice of healthy eating. This is the story of Sonia Gupta from Sonlicious, who decided to bake for her son, make baking as her passion and finally started teaching the art of baking to new health-conscious parents (because thinking about kids health is not just the mother’s task). At Plattershare, we appreciate all endeavoring entrepreneurs who are changing the world at the grass root level. We thank Sonia for taking out the time between her busy baking days and help us to come up with this series on Baking.
The first topic of discussion in this series, which always starts with a WHY – Why should I bake bread at home? And this is what Sonia has to say with her experience.
Should you bake 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 bread and other baked goodies from the market. It seems convenient too. So, should you bake 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 all these products. Isn’t it scary that the hygiene and quality of what you are eating are in so many hands? If you regret the compromised products you have been eating, the answer to your question of baking at home is a simple 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 ingredients and hygiene.
Are baking goodies healthy?
There are mixed reviews about the health benefits of 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.
What makes baked products available in the market 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 one-day affair, but for larger companies, the cycle could be as long as 6 months. Try noticing the manufacturing dates of the cakes and biscuits you buy from the market.
Imagine a product getting manufactured 1000 miles away. Packaging, distribution, stocking, 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 where the aging is multiplied? 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 the market. Start baking at home.
Say No to Market Baked Goodies
Why do we fall for market baked items?
Well, here are the obvious reasons:
- TV Commercials that make you believe that the product is healthy and fresh. The brand ambassadors that are getting paid a fortune to endorse the products. Do they themselves eat those products? That is anybody’s guess!
- 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 help?
When you bake at home, you take a 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 to use margarine or butter. You 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 anything 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 controls under your bake-at-home environment.
How does bake at home help in controlling portion size?
Restaurants have standard serving size, they will prefer to serve more 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 a small size muffin. A simple change in the size of your baked goods helps you achieve portion control.
You decide the portions
What about the time and cost of equipment?
If you think that the restaurants are 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 more 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 yourself 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. There is no comparison to fresh baked goods. The aroma and freshness of each eatable will make it worth trying.
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. You give a personal touch to every bake. 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.
"The family who bakes together stays together" – slightly twisted, but relevant 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 the mind?
Baking is meditative and helps drive away depression and anxiety. Meditation means awareness. Anything that you do with utmost awareness is meditation. So, in baking, you need to have your complete attention when you bake.
Baking is an addiction. Once you start baking, you would not go for market goodies. Watch somebody baking. They are so engrossed in themselves. It's therapeutic to bake for you and your family.
According to a survey done 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, with 80% taking up 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 appreciate the creativity, ears love the thumping sound, tongue loves the taste, nose loves the aroma and skin loves the texture of a baked item. When all your five senses are involved you feel exuberant.
Can baking be considered as a 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 for professionals with expertise in healthy baking. Today’s generation is much more aware and conscious towards health. There are a plethora of opportunities for those who want to make baking as their full-time career. Specialized bakeries, home based business, specialized chefs, workshops, and the sky is the limit. You can start small with your neighborhood or apartment complex and then expand.
After Reading this extensive reasoning on why one should bake and baking is no more an indulgence but the necessity of the hour. Stay tuned for our next discussion on – What are the basic ingredients that we need for baking?
About the Author: Sonia, the founder of Sonlicious, is known for her experimental healthy baking recipes on YouTube channel and her own food blog. She enjoys developing recipes, food writing, reviewing products and restaurants, and has recently started writing recipe books. She is on her mission of transforming Home Makers into Home Bakers and achieves this through her Healthy Baking Workshops. She also loves featuring renowned influencers in the food world on her blog. You can follow her on: Facebook Page, Facebook Group, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, Blog