The Great British Bake Off. Who would have guessed a programme about a random selection of people who offer their baking skills up to the (often severe) scrutiny of two steely-eyed professionals, would have proved so popular.
Many older people enjoy watching the fun and will particularly reminisce about their baking days – the times before pre-packaged cakes were available. They will tell you about having to bake their own bread, pies and pastries on a daily basis.
Cake-making is also about the tactile feel of the ingredients. Measuring, pouring, stirring etc, the satisfaction of tasting your own results, even sharing it around with others can create a collective experience.
With health and safety a priority, it is unlikely that many care home residents get a chance to cook but with the new idea of baking in a microwave, this could be the chance for Activity Coordinators to include cake-making as an enjoyable activity session.
Why not have a go at making a cake-in-a mug? The recipes are great for older people as everything is measured out using spoons, so no need for scales or complicated equipment.
All you will need is:
- Large mug for each person (write the name on the base before mixture goes in)
- 5 tbsp self-raising flour
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
- 1 medium egg
- 3 tbsp milk
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil (or sunflower oil)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract (optional - other flavourings can be used)
- Sweets, fresh fruit or icing tubes for decoration
- Use the largest mug you can find to avoid making a mess and only half fill it with the mixture so it doesn't overflow
- Add the flour and sugar to the mug and mix
- Add the egg, milk and oil mix
- Finally add the vanilla extract and mix until smooth
- Centre your mug in the middle of the microwave oven and cook on high for 3 minutes (depending how powerful your microwave is) or until it has stopped rising and is firm to the touch
- Watch it rise and check it doesn't overflow
- Decorate and serve
Health and Safety considerations need to be:
1) Check there are no allergies to any of the ingredients involved
2) Any special dietary needs are catered for e.g. gluten-free versions
3) Recipe and instructions in large print for sight-impaired residents
4) Brightly coloured mugs and spoons for sight-impairments and dementia
5) Microwave cooking is handled by appropriate staff and residents are not exposed to hot equipment or food.
6) Any spills are cleaned immediately to avoid slipping
Why not have your own Bake Off competition? Get a group of willing residents (and a few members of staff maybe). Have a few helpers to transport the trays of mug cakes to the microwave oven if it is in a kitchen elsewhere.
Once cooled, the fun can begin with decorating the cakes to a personal taste, then lining them up to be judged - especially for any soggy bottoms! (Ideal judges would be Care Home Managers, Head Cook or other kitchen staff).