Give & Bake is back in 2016, all in aid of Leonard Cheshire Disability. We've been given some great tips on making baking that bit easier if you have a disability.One of our day centre users regularly delights staff and others at our Hydon Hill service in Godalming, by baking up delicious treats from them. Michael worked as a professional chef in central London, before he developed Multiple Sclerosis 14 years ago. Since then, Michael has been visiting our Hydon Hill service in Godalming, Surrey where he enjoys cooking with support from the amazing staff there. He said: “With the help of staff, I started baking for the residents almost straight away, about a month after I arrived. I now come into Hydon Hill on Tuesday’s and Friday’s to bake. It’s my relaxation. I think the residents like my cooking because they eat it, and there’s never much left!” We asked Michael to give us his top tips to make baking a little bit easier if you have a disability. Here he gives us his suggestions:
This may seem like a really obvious one, but if you’re wearing long sleeves, make sure they’re rolled up. It’s not just about keeping your cuffs clean, for someone in a wheelchair there is danger in reaching across the stove with sleeves.
Make sure your knives are sharp, it is actually much safer! A blunt knife can slip off whatever you’re cutting, and cut you instead!
With a bit of practice you can use your hand to get a near accurate measurement of dry ingredients such as flour or sugar which can be helpful if you have a visual impairment or struggle with kitchen scales. One of my hands is roughly equal to 100g of self-raising flour.
If you struggle with cracking eggs, a simple way around this is to put a whole egg in a cup, and crush it. After removing the biggest bits of shell, pour the egg into your baking mixture very slowly. The heavier shell will remain in the cup while the egg will fall into the bowl.
Some special utensils are worth investing in if you want to become a regular baker, such as this measuring cup with braille measurements on it.
When mixing all your ingredients together, a damp tea towel under the bowl can help stop it from slipping around.
You can use a regular rolling pin to flatten out and turn your pastry over, or try a specially adapted rolling pin with a central handle that provides a good grip.
Another really useful piece of kit is a grabber, which can help reach ingredients which are stored up high and out of the way, or to pick up anything that’s fallen on the floor.
A simple instrument is available to help open tightly closed jars and pots. This is really useful if you have difficulty gripping.
If you find cutlery or small utensils tricky to grip, you can add a piece a foam to the handle by taping it around or inserting the cutlery into the foam to create a more secure handle.
Pre-heat your oven at a slightly lower temperature to try and avoid burns when putting your bakes into cook. Once your bake is in, raise the temperature back up to the temperature it is meant to cook.
If you’re using the stove, a small mirror can help you see how your food is cooking, especially those pots in the back! You can arrange for a small heat resistant mirror to be mounted above your stove, or use a mirror mounted on a stick.
What better opportunity to put these tips into practice by baking for our Give & Bake campaign! Give & Bake is all about bringing together friends, family and work colleagues for a cup of tea and a slice of cake in exchange for a donation to charity Leonard Cheshire Disability, which will directly support disabled people locally. Your donation could provide life enhancing care and support at our services, such as Hydon Hill. Without it, Michael would never have been able to continue cooking. He said: “I’m not allowed to cook at home, only here. I have a tendency to put things in the oven and walk away! I have one-to-one support when baking at Hydon Hill so there are no issues.” To register for Give & Bake visit leonardcheshire.org/giveandbake or call 020 3242 0396.