Cooking can offer so much more than sustenance alone — it can evoke creative expression and, in some cases, act as a form of therapeutic release.
That’s how “Mind Over Batter” author and master baker Jack Hazan came up with the idea for his debut cookbook, focusing on how he’s used baking as an aid for mental wellbeing.
The cookbook includes 75 recipes inspired by the Syrian, Middle Eastern and American baked goods of his childhood, combining different therapeutic techniques that home bakers can tap into their own kitchen.
His recipes are organized by common life moments and needs — whether someone is looking to ease anxiety, seeking connection or self-care, Hazan has a good baked recipe to help.
Hazan welcomed “Good Morning America” into his home to bake a lemon ginger Bundt cake from his book and shared the full recipe, plus two additional summer-ready confections, below.
“Taking a deep breath is a great way to practice mindfulness. Pairing deep breathing with gorgeous aromas like the ginger and lemon in this cake can really invigorate the senses. I like to think of these as baking essential oils, helping to facilitate meditation while in the kitchen. And Bundt cakes are always great for sharing, so go share your newfound peace by having a bite with friends.”
1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
3 tablespoons grated lemon zest
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup sour cream (low fat is OK, nonfat is not)
2/3 cup (80 grams) powdered sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter and flour or use nonstick cooking spray to coat a standard 12-cup [2.8-liter] Bundt pan (or two smaller 6-cup or 1.4-liter Bundt pans).
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, ginger, lemon zest, baking soda and salt. Make sure all the tiny chunks of ginger are covered in a layer of flour so they don’t sink to the bottom of the cake. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a medium bowl using an electric hand mixer, cream the butter and granulated sugar for 3 to 4 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. (It’s always needed.)
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the lemon juice and beat to combine.
Turn the mixer to low speed and alternately adding the flour mixture, then the sour cream, until the mixture is combined. Do not over mix here. Pour the batter into the prepared Bundt pan(s) (I use a large cookie scoop for this). Smooth the top of the batter with an offset spatula.
Bake the full Bundt cake for 55 to 60 minutes or the half-size Bundt cake for 30 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown, test it cleanly with a cake tester, and pull it away from the sides of the pan. Let cool in the pan on a cooling rack for at least 20 minutes, and then turn out carefully onto a rack to cool completely.
For the glaze: While the cake is cooling, in a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, melted butter, lemon juice and ground ginger. If it is too thick, add another few drops of lemon juice. If it is too thin, add another 1 to 2 teaspoons of powdered sugar. Pour the glaze over the cooled cake(s) and let it set for at least an hour.
To-serve: Serve immediately or store tightly wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature for 2 to 3 days. The unglazed cake can be kept in the freezer for 30 days.
Feelin’ Peachy Galette with Cardamom
“A galette is a rustic tart with almost no rules. It is meant to be ruggedly shaped and looks like it belongs on the dining table of a cabin. So, when you fold the crust over the spiced peaches, be forgiving with yourself. No matter how this tart turns out in the end, it will turn out the way it was supposed to. Imperfect can be perfect, just like you.”
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 cup very cold unsalted butter, thinly sliced
1/2 cup of ice water
1 egg, plus 1 teaspoon water for egg wash
2 pounds of fresh peaches, peeled, pitted and thinly sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup, plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
Demerara sugar, for sprinkling
Homemade whipped cream
To make the crust: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, granulated sugar, and salt. Add the sliced butter and use a handheld pastry blender or fork to cut in the butter and form a crumbly dough. Add the ice water, a little at a time, using a wooden spoon to stir the dough together. Use your hands to quickly form the dough into a 1-inch thick flat disk. You want it to be quick so that the butter doesn’t start to melt. Wrap it in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
To make the filling: While the dough chills, in a medium bowl, combine the peaches, lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of the granulated sugar. Set aside for 10 minutes.
Drain off any excess liquid from the peaches that has accumulated in the bottom of the bowl. Add the cornstarch, remaining 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar, vanilla and cardamom. Toss the fruit to combine well.
To assemble and bake: Remove the dough from the fridge and lightly flour a work surface. Flour a rolling pin and roll the dough to about 1/4-inch (6 millimeters) thickness. Aim for a circular shape, but don’t stress too much. The beauty of a galette is that it isn’t supposed to be shaped perfectly!
Using your rolling pin, roll up the dough and transfer it to the prepared baking sheet.
Spoon the fruit onto the pie crust, leaving at least a 2-inch border all around. Then, fold the crust over the fruit, leaving the middle exposed. Whisk together the egg wash and use a pastry brush to coat the exposed edges of the crust.
Bake for 35 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. Remove the galette from the oven and allow it to cool.
Top and serve: Sprinkle the galette with demerara sugar and serve with whipped cream. Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 2 days.
Food for thought: “Think of stress like preheating the oven: You’ll get hot quickly, but once you’re done with the experience, you’ll cool down.”
Slice-and-Bake Raspberry Swirl Cookies
“You know those rolls of sugar cookie dough that taunt you from the grocery store shelf? Kiss them goodbye. These cookies elevate that boring cookie dough and freeze so well that they’ll always be available for your future self. Just preheat your oven, slice and bake.”
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup fresh raspberries
1 cup of pecans
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
To make the dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a medium bowl using a handheld electric mixer, cream the butter, granulated sugar, and light brown sugar until fluffy. Add the baking powder, salt, and eggs, and continue mixing on low speed for about 1 minute. Add the flour, 1 cup (140 grams) at a time, mixing continuously and scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.
To make the filling: Put the raspberries, pecans, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a food processor. Pulse until combined; do not turn it into a paste. If you don’t have a food processor, chop the pecans finely, mash the raspberries, and mix them with the remaining ingredients. Set the filling aside.
To assemble and bake: Once the dough is thoroughly chilled, lay two large pieces of wax paper on your work surface. Divide the dough in half, and cover and refrigerate the half you aren’t using. Place the other half between the wax paper sheets. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a rectangle about 12 by 6 inches (30.5 by 15 centimeters) and 1/4 inches (6 millimeters) thick.
Remove the top layer of wax paper and use a spatula to evenly spread half of the filling over the surface of the cookie dough. Be sure to leave a small margin on all sides. Roll the dough into a log, starting with one of the short ends and discarding the bottom wax paper as you roll. If the dough is too sticky, use the sharp edge of a long knife to help it get started. Cut off 1/2 in [13 mm] from each end of the log.
Wrap the dough tightly in waxed paper and tie it off or tape it closed. Repeat these steps with the remaining dough and filling. Allow them to chill in the fridge for at least 12 hours.
At this point, you can freeze the dough or bake it fresh. When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375 F [190 C]. Remove the dough from its wrapping and slice into 1/4-inch-thick (6-millimeter-thick) cookies. Place the cookies on a nonstick baking sheet and bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until the edges are set. (If baking from frozen, bake for 20 minutes.) The cookies can be easily overbaked, so pull them out even if they look underdone. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
The dough will keep, tightly wrapped in the freezer, for up to 3 months.
Food for thought: “While the dough is in the oven, use this time to practice being present with a short meditation or mindfulness exercise.”
Reprinted with permission from Mind Over Batter by Jack Hazan, © 2023. Published by Chronicle Books. Photographs © Lauren Volo.