Today we are talking with Danielle Maupertuis, who believes we are losing the art of baking. Born iin Belguim, Danielle is the Uk’s leading Executive Vegan Pastry Chef! With a passion for baking and a worry that we are losing the art of baking, Danielle has set out to get people cooking. Baking can be incredibly relaxing and a great stress reliever. We find out from Danielle about her inspiration and how to get started on this fantastic way to boost your mental health.
Please can you introduce yourself to our readers?
My name is Danielle Maupertuis and I am a Belgian Vegan Executive Pastry Chef. I have worked for 5 star hotels in the UK and abroad and am a winner of Gold and Silver medals in International competitions.
Author of a cookbook “Vegans Deserve Better Than Fruit Salad”, I created a range of fine-dining vegan desserts based on taste and presentation.
Featured in numerous magazines, I presented at the BBC Radio 3 Counties, as well as being a trainer for The Vegetarian Society and presenting at various festivals and events all over the UK.
You have an incredible passion for baking, where does that come from?
It’s pure coincidence! I shared a house with friends. We had a bread oven; one of my friends was passionate about baking, and we provided bread to all our neighbours. One day she got sick, so I replaced her. Seeing the daybreak and smelling that unique smell of baking bread, it has never left me since!
What inspired you to champion mental health concerns?
I am passionate about inspiring people to get back into baking and one of the spin-off positive side effects is how this positively impacts mental health.
Why is baking good for mental health?
Baking is a stress reliever, and it helps you switch off – you have to focus on what you are doing. I have chatted with some people who say that baking has boosted their confidence too.
I feel that not only are these magic moments creating such wonderful memories, these times are also educating your children so they have a lifelong skill. Baking helps them make decisions and shows them how follow instructions.
I bake with my grandson, Arun and we always have the most wonderful time!
What can readers do to get started with baking?
The main thing is to get started! Too often we believe that pastry is complicated and inaccessible. My challenge is to prove vegan desserts are easy to make, taste yummy and look fantastic! I can never praise enough the benefits of live or online courses: sharing, discussing, asking questions, learning from mistakes.
Do you have any top tips for making baking successful?
Of course, baking is all about precision, so a scale is essential. it is also important to faithfully follow a recipe, but the main thing is self-confidence, “I can do it!”
What is your favourite recipe to bake and boost your mood? Would you be happy to share that with us?
As with many Chefs, my favourite recipe is always my latest creation. However, I would recommend a cheesecake recipe. It’s a delicious dessert, easy to make and looks impressive, I actually devoted a whole chapter to it in my book.
You have started Vegan and Gluten-Free Afternoon Tea Clubs, such a great idea and no doubt a wonderful way for people to connect with others and help improve their mental health. What can people expect from one of these afternoons?
A first contribution of these afternoon teas is confirmed on a social level: a sense of conviviality and sharing, the interest and the desire to exchange, to meet new people.
The second benefit is the interest in vegan baking. The short demo that I offer always arouses a lot of interest and at the end, when I ask the audience, “Is this difficult to make, the unanimous answer is “No”! In many testimonials people confess “Thank you, you brought back my love for baking”. What better reward?
Which ingredient do you most love baking with?
The plant-based double cream Elmlea, which recently appeared on the market, allows you to create super light desserts.
Baking with children can be stressful yet rewarding. What tips do you have for making baking with kids a success?
During the lockdown, I created a YouTube channel to keep the kids busy: “Vegan pastry for kids”: about 12 short and funny videos (“how to play dominoes with shortbread”…)
The main thing is to present baking as a game. But also, to build a framework where the child feels confident: present a simple recipe with clear steps, prepare and weigh the ingredients…
The Wonder Collection
The Wonder Self-Care Journal! We believe self-care is vital to great mental health. What is your go to self-care activity and why?
I am lucky to live in the countryside, along a river and natural reserve. In this wonderful setting, walking gives me wellbeing and inner peace. It’s also during my walks that I think about and create my desserts!
The Wonder Mix Tape! What song/artist do you find uplifting and listening to it/them boosts your mood?
Vivaldi, the Four Seasons.
The Wonder Bookshelf! Can you recommend a book to our readers. Fiction, non-fiction, feel good or advice giving. Why did you choose this book?
Dostoievsky’s entire work, in particular “Crime and Punishment” which I unfortunately admit to reading in French! He masterfully describes the entirety of human feelings, the contradictions that devour the characters
You can find out more about Danielle and her cookbook Vegans Deserve Better than Fruit Salad, on her website, Facebook and Instagram. We have lots of exciting ways to boost your mental health throughout The Wonderment, whether it’s self-care, wellness, or a new craft activity.