A JIA warrior’s guide to baking

by Collette McColgan

Baking can be a struggle, but with a bit of prep and a helpful friend it's next stop Bake Off!

 Step one: Plan your bake in plenty of time. In this post, I will be using Christmas cake as an example. You need to make Christmas cake in plenty of time for Christmas because it’s better when it gets older or something like that. I’m not really a baking expert.

Step two: Find yourself a nice, easy to follow recipe online, and buy everything on it. Or at least buy everything on it that you think you definitely need, and leave off stuff like 1/4 teaspoon of essence of lavender leaf extract, if you follow my style of baking. This isn’t Bake Off and I don’t have a ready-stocked cupboard to turn to.

Step three: Prepare anything you might need to the night before. In Christmas cake this usually involves soaking nearly a kilogram of dried fruit in some kind of alcohol for 12 hours the night before baking.

Step four: Measure all your ingredients, and have someone on hand to open jars and tins for you. In this case, I had my mum to open a tin of black treacle (because: too hard), cut out the greaseproof paper for the tin (because: too fiddly), and grease the paper (because: greasy).

Step five: Mix everything together. I know, this is the hard bit. I highly recommend investing in a free-standing food mixer, because it’s really helpful. If not, you can get your mum in again. That’s what I used to do. In fact, it was my mum who bought me the free-standing food mixer. Maybe she was trying to tell me something.

Step six: Once you’ve done that, stick it all into bake. Then you can kick back for a few hours. If you’re making a Christmas cake, that takes around four hours, which is real relaxation.

Step seven: Once the cake is baked, leave it to cool. This is another time when you might need a bit of help, as this step involves lifting and carrying something which is very hot. It can then be quite fiddly to take it out of the tin, so you might need help with that too. My mum’s good, isn’t she?

Step eight: Decorate the cake, if you want to. I can’t pipe because of my hands, so that’s another duty that falls to my mum. I’m also not very artistic when it comes to decorating, but that’s not really anything to do with my arthritis.

Step nine: That’s it. You can have your cake and eat it. Must remember to save a slice for my mum.


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