Laura set up Mindful Bakes in July 2017 as she has a passion for baking and creating and the cookery school followed shortly afterwards. After a bout of depression Laura found baking to be her saviour, a way to channel her energies into feeding her family and doing something productive. Whilst Laura doesn’t hold any formal cooking qualifications she feels she is more than experienced having been baking all her life. From an early age she can recall memories of baking with her Grandma and cooking three course meals for her family as a child. Laura now cooks freshly prepared homecooked meals for her family every day and enjoys baking regularly with her daughters. Laura has been baking as a hobby for many years now and has received many compliments from friends and family that she decided to turn her passion into her career!
Her young daughters have developed a growing interest in her hobby turned career and Laura has found it to be hugely beneficial in teaching mathematical skills, reading, patience, creativity and enhancing the bond between parents and child without the need for television or smart phones. Laura teaches her children to budget for ingredients whilst shopping, they learn whereabouts their food has come from, be it home grown or organically produced or reared locally. Laura tried to recycle packaging where appropriate thus reducing the impact on the environment and teaches her children to reduce waste. Whilst baking you can teach children the importance of hygiene and health and safety and the fundamental importance of eating a healthy balanced diet. Laura’s eldest child is now a very eager cook and likes to create her own recipes and help with dinner parties!
Mindful Bakes aims to use freshly grown local produce. Our apples came from across Wiltshire, Gloucestershire and even east Sussex! Mindful Bakes tries to reduce waste by using people’s unwanted damsons, sloe berries, apples, pears, pumpkins and plums. People now regularly donate their unwanted fruit and vegetables and even free-range eggs to the cookery school. In the winter Mindful Bakes produced game pies from pheasant, partridge and venison from local farms. As well as bakes Mindful Bakes brewed their own cider and bottled their own apple juice with the apples they collected. Sloe gin, damson gin and limoncello also proved to be a popular Christmas gift! Mindful Bakes are all too aware of healthy eating and have whipped up culinary delights such as chocolate cauliflower cake with tahini and sesame crunch and honey parsnip cake with lemon ricotta frosting which use vegetables as the staple ingredient. Children often don’t notice the difference, but the bakes are healthier and lower in fat! At Christmas, Mindful Bakes were busy with Christmas cake orders and even wedding cakes. We accept commissions and can provide gluten free, vegan, sugar free and dairy free cakes and bakes.
At the launch of Mindful Bakes in July 2017 we raised more than £380 for Mind the mental health charity. Since then we raised another £107 for ‘Heads Together’ the mental health charity set up by the Royal family. Mindful Bakes aim to bring people together via cake and inadvertently people start chatting and hopefully this may involve discussions surrounding mental health. We host regular ‘crumbs and chatter’ open days in the village. #oneconversationatatime #onecrumbatatime. Mindful Bakes attends local events in the community and recently sponsored the ‘Collingbourne Beerfest’. We regularly host Christmas fairs as well as events such as Halloween parties for children.
Laura studied Occupational Therapy so knows only too well about the importance of baking as a form of therapy. She has worked with special needs children and young adults for over fifteen years in various settings and most recently worked as a teaching assistant with an autistic child in a mainstream school. Laura is keen to take Mindful Bakes into local primary schools as part of their emotional literacy and social support programme (ELSA) and to enable children to enable children to feel supported and listened to whilst completing a fun, therapeutic and educational activity.
ELS (emotional learning support) helped Laura’s eldest daughter by reducing her anxiety and allowing her some ‘time out’ of the structured curriculum to immerse herself in something fun and relaxing as well as learning a new skill. She was able to understand that it is ‘okay to not be okay’ and that there will always be people to listen to her, support her and share their experiences. Many children are exposed to the stresses of modern-day life and are not equipped with the coping mechanisms at such a young age on how to deal with them. It is important to start discussing mental health in a positive light before it becomes destructive at a later age. Mental health need not be scary and intimidating and Mindful Bakes wishes to herald the importance of incorporating baking into the education system as a way of discussing mental health.
Mindful Bakes has been working closely with the local primary school, helping the children decorate biscuits to then sell at their Christmas fair where they will raise money for the PTA. The older children can design their own edible Christmas treat to make and then use their entrepreneurial skills to calculate the cost of producing the product. In the future Laura hopes to work with the school to set up a ‘pop up café’ where the she will teach the children how to make a meal for the local community. Not only is it teaching essential entrepreneurial skills, whilst also increasing student’s confidence as well as teaching them enterprising skills and cookery skills. Laura has been invited by the local primary school to educate and demonstrate to both parents and children how to incorporate fruit and vegetables into their daily packed lunches and snacks. Laura will create pumpkin cupcakes, granola bars and chocolate and beetroot brownies which are low in fats and sugars but contain fruit and vegetables and are a healthier alternative to supermarket brands.
Currently Mindful Bakes runs a weekly after school club which focus in a different bake each week. The children take away a recipe card and chef’s hat as well as their bakes. We also offer 75-minute pre-school sessions throughout the week, children’s birthday parties as well as holiday clubs every school holiday. We run pre-school sessions throughout the week during term time. Our most popular session is our lunch club which runs for two hours and includes a hot meal which the children often prepare or a cold packed lunch. We cater for all food intolerances and special needs and have experience in cooking vegan and dairy free bakes with young children. Our premises in level access to allow wheelchair users to bake with us. Mindful Bakes has also hosted several children’s parties with a baking session incorporated. Laura has taught up to 20 children at a time how to make pizzas and then the children enjoyed a tea party fully catered by Mindful Bakes.
We welcome children between the ages of 2-16 years and parents are encouraged to stay and bake with their children. More recently we have been asked to provide cookery courses for parents as well as carers who need a confidence boost when preparing simple, easy meals for their families or clients. We have even taught an apprentice chef how to create perfect desserts in a local pub. We also provide whole day sessions for older children, teaching them how to prepare a three-course meal from scratch. Mindful Bakes currently teaches basic cookery skills and focus on reducing waste, basic ingredients for cooking and getting children to try different ingredients. These classes are aimed at children under 10 and are often shorter sessions. For older children and adults, we focus on preparing ingredients for more complex dishes such as paella and pies and are often longer sessions.