Do you find baking or cooking in general therapeutic? Did you find solace in baking during the covid lockdown periods? Then you will be interested in my guest this week – Tim Leach is The Mindful Baker and his company teaches mindfulness through the art of baking! Yes, that’s what I said – he teaches meditation techniques as well as how to bake artisan sourdough bread and pizza. Hi Tim and welcome!
Hi! I’m Tim Leach and I am a mindful baker. I teach people life skills through the art of baking by utilising the process of baking sourdough with mindfulness.
What made you decide to launch “The Mindful Baker”?
I had decided to get into mindfulness and consequently qualified as a teacher in order to spread the word of it but I found that people, in general, unless they specifically want to learn about it, don’t have much interest in just learning about mindfulness because they assume it’s very wishy washy and don’t want to get bogged down by meditating and breathing in sweet nothings, so don’t really want to get know much about it. It’s not at all like that but that’s certainly what I used to think so I don’t blame anyone else for thinking the same way. Anyway, a few years ago I had a Christmas party and my cousin brought along a loaf of sourdough. I was delighted to not be given a bottle of cheap wine and said that I would love to learn how to bake it. I eventually learned and then saw a correlation between baking sourdough and mindfulness. It wasn’t an instant thing but over time I developed it into a class and then started giving free classes to neighbours when I lived in London. It grew from there.
Talk me through a typical workshop – what would I expect?
There are a set number of stages that need to be carried out to create a loaf of sourdough, and in between each one, which I call ‘down time’ I explain the correlations between what is happening to the bread and how by following a similar method within your own life, you can start to see it making a difference. I also use these times to explain the concept of mindfulness, give techniques to help people integrate it into their lives; along with my life story and case studies, all the while making it easier for them to understand through the tangible process of baking.
What level of cookery skill would you need to attend a workshop?
None at all, I teach total beginners to pros who want to learn about mindfulness.
What is it about your job as the Mindful Baker do you enjoy or gives you the most satisfaction? The downside?
I love seeing people’s joy when they create bread. I love seeing the ‘aha’ moments in people’s eyes when I explain how something so simple could revolutionise their lives. I love hearing their life stories and I love explaining how I got into it and the shit I went through before being where I am now. The downside is the process of finding new clients which will hopefully get easier over time.
You also hold pizza parties for children. What are the most popular toppings? Do you have a favourite topping?
Kids love pineapple which I do not agree with because pineapple is a sweet fruit which doesn’t belong on a pizza. Once they get over their weird topping ideas they generally love simple margaritas. Kids are easy to please with pizza. My favourite toppings would be chorizo and silly hot chilli, which my wife does not agree with but I love it.
Growing up, did you always want a “People related” career or be a chef or did you want to pursue a completely different direction?
Yes, completely different. I studied Law at university and was going to become a city lawyer. After university I did a ski season before hitting the city and becoming, my then idea, rich and happy. Half way through the season, though, I skied off a cliff and tore my cruciate ligament, broke my back and my neck, shattered my ankle and hit my head so hard I was induced into a coma for 3 weeks. The recovery was very long and arduous which culminated in me hitting my lowest ever point where I was left with the decision to either let it cripple me or to rise above it. I obviously chose to rise above it and after many years of trial and error, I am finally where I want to be. I have since written a book about my life and how I managed to get myself back on track, up until I became the Mindful Baker, which is called ‘Timinology’.
I know you are passionate about your baking – what is your favourite creation to make?
I actually made my first ever wedding cake the other day after someone messaged me to ask whether I, being a mindful baker, make them. I told her that I didn’t but I’d happily give it a go. She agreed and her wedding is today. Her reaction when she saw the cake was amazement – as was mine. I probably won’t continue with wedding cakes but my cooking love is for bbqing. I love sourcing the best meats and the best vegetables and then creating magic. Not forgetting my trusted sourdough bread to go with it.
Sometimes a recipe doesn’t go to plan – I made a cardamom cake that took me about 3 goes from scratch before it turned out perfect ! Have you tried to bake or cook anything that just didn’t go your way or that you avoid cooking?
The only issue I’ve ever had was with the wedding cake. I had to bake 6 different cakes of different sizes in order to make the tiers – the first one was fine and then the second one just completely deflated and then split apart leaking a load of uncooked cake mixture everywhere. It was very demoralizing but it actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise because it made me vigilantly keep checking the cooking times of every cake after that and making sure they were perfect before allowing them to rest. A technique that I would have garnered from my mindful baking classes which otherwise would have seen me throwing it away and quitting; lucky I didn’t do that.
Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?
Before I set up the mindful baker I launched another company designing (telling someone what I wanted ) and manufacturing shirts. They were for men and women and were city/casual shirts – something you can wear to the office or just in the countryside. Anyway, I have a lot of shirts now so you will very rarely not see me wearing one of my own shirts. I then normally wear them with jeans, a jumper, a gilet (when it’s cold) and my trusted RM Williams riding boots.
Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?
I hate shopping – my wife knows what I wear so when she thinks I need something new she orders it for me online. I hate any sort of label so if it’s labelled I won’t wear it. Nobody knows what RM WIlliams is (unless you’re in Australia) and it’s also of incredible quality so my last pair lasted me 15 years.
What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?
No more shoes for 10 years or so (unless they’re running shoes as I am an avid runner of which I only buy a brand (again noone has ever heard of) called HOKA, which I only wear because I wasn’t able to run for 10 years after the accident until I found these shoes which transformed my life)
Boots or Shoes?
Boots because that is what my RM Williams are and they will last a long time.
Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc.
youtube tim – the mindful baker.
Here is a link for people to buy my book if they want to…. https://www.themindfulbaker.com/shop
Thank you very much for chatting with us today Tim! What a fun business!
All photographs have been published with kind permission from Tim (The Mindful Baker) apart from the Pinterest photo which is by Linda Hobden.