So what exactly is it that is so good about baking and why is it such a feelgood activity for so many people?
I can't speak for anyone else but I tried to drill down what it is that I love about it and it comes down to a mixture of things.
For a start, it's creative - there's a fabulous sense of achievement when a loaf turns out delicious and beautiful; there's also a sense of nurturing something (that won't answer back and isn't very demanding), then there's the childishness of weighing and measuring which takes me back to the innocence and fun of primary school – the act of pouring the water from one jug to another to get the right amount reminds me of playing at the water table – so simple but somehow reassuring.
It's sensuous – the feel of a bowl of flour as you mix in the salt with your hands – Soft, dry, cool and lovely. And then getting your hands covered in dough – it’s back again to making mud pies.
The kneading that follows is soothingly repetitive. It’s meditative because it requires no thought and you can drift off, listen to the radio or work through a problem, all as the dough changes from a sticky, unmanageable mass to a smooth, bouncy ball. It feels like achievement while your focus has been elsewhere.
The whole process is multi-sensory and that's got to be good – the feel of the dough, the sight of it rising and the smell as it bakes. It even sounds good as it gives off a crackle while it cools and then of course there’s the taste.
And despite the fact that it takes several hours from start to finish, after the kneading, your involvement is no more than about a minute here and there, so there are little snippets of mindfulness with the bonus of a delicious result at the end; as nourishing for the soul as for the body.
A quick search for Baking as Therapy on Google brought up loads of results, as you'd expect. The first of which was this great article in the huffington post. So no, it's not just me!