I put into motion The Law of Pure Potentiality this week and I am practicing sitting with silence and soaking up nature with morning walks. This first step emphasizes meditation. Much of meditation practices and teachings are done in yoga studios, or on secluded beaches and outdoor spaces, where everything is designed to be calm and peaceful to help facilitate the process.
However, real meditation starts to take place when it’s intimately integrated into daily life. This is the practice of mindfulness and I can’t think of a better place to start than in the kitchen. I think mindful eating is one of the simplest meditations one can practice and the practice of mindful cooking provides a wonderful opportunity to be present, mindful and aware, as opposed to being distracted, stressed or overwhelmed. It’s an opportunity to train the mind, to understand what it means to be in the here and now, with a healthy sense of appreciation and patience. It’s also an opportunity to get back in touch with the food that you eat.
Mindful Cooking: A Baking Meditation
So, let’s start with mindfully baking. Many people say that baking is a therapeutic experience and I can understand why because the sweet aroma alone creates an aromatherapy experience for our brain. Let’s take this and the entire baking experience to our advantage and make it a cooking meditation. The recipe I have selected uses simple ingredients and requires no noisy mixers. The old fashioned way of stirring and mixing in quiet solitude will allow us to be completely immersed in the experience of creating a Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt Cake.
So, wholesome and delectable the desert is a befitting choice for this experience. The full recipe is bellow, but here is how to mindfully bake:
First put on an instrumental tune that is relaxing if you desire. Take 10 deep breaths then position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 10 or 12-cup Bundt pan and simply observe the texture of the pan and the change in its appearance as it becomes greased, notice how it feels on your hands to grease the pan. Set the pan aside.
In a small saucepan, combine the butter, cocoa powder, salt, and water and place over medium heat. As you begin to cook the various ingredients, notice how the addition of each new ingredient affects the overall fragrance of the dish. Allow yourself to be 100 percent present with the different senses, rather than being lost in thought. Each time the mind wanders, just gently bring the attention back to these smells and sound of the ingredients melting. Cook, stirring, just until melted and combined. Remove from the heat and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and baking soda. Notice the sensations and feeling in your arm as you use a hand whisk for this process. Touch the ingredients and notice the texture, is it smooth or rough? Add half of the melted butter mixture and whisk until completely blended. Look at the change in texture, observe if it is smooth, does it remind you of anything? What sensations are you having now on your arms and hands as you whisk?
The mixture will be thick. Add the remaining butter mixture and whisk until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking until completely blended. Whisk in the sour cream noticing the creaminess and the change in color as you pour the sour cream in. Now sniff the vanilla extract and allow yourself an aromatherapy experience and then add the vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth. Smell the combined ingredients of your batter and notice how the aromas change.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake about 40 to 45 minutes. Sit in a chair not too far from the oven and relax into it. You have nothing to do but to stay alert to the changing sounds, smells, sensations and thoughts as you gently focus your attention on the breath. Try it just for a few minutes at a time to begin with, perhaps returning to the kitchen every 10–15 minutes or so to repeat the exercise and notice the changes. There’s no need to worry if your mind wanders off while you’re doing this, but as soon as you realize it has, just bring your attention back to the breath. Then shift your attention to the other senses, such as the smell, the increasingly warm temperature in the room or the rumbling in your stomach as the digestive juices begin to flow in preparation for desert.
After 45 minutes insert a toothpick into the center of the cake and once it comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes and then invert onto a rack. Again, notice the beautiful aroma of the cake and how it has transformed from batter to cake.
Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt Cake
1 cup unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup water
2 cups all-purpose Gold Medal flour, plus more for the pan
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 10 or 12-cup Bundt pan and set aside.
- In a small saucepan, combine the butter, cocoa powder, salt, and water and place over medium heat. Cook, stirring, just until melted and combined. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and baking soda. Add half of the melted butter mixture and whisk until completely blended. The mixture will be thick. Add the remaining butter mixture and whisk until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking until completely blended. Whisk in the sour cream and the vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for 30 minutes and then invert onto a rack.