Upon hearing about the words ‘gluten free’ or ‘dairy free’, I must admit I don’t immediately pick these meals off a menu when eating out; but owner of Baked Livingness and creative baker Sarah Follent has shown me otherwise. Her baking and catering business offers event packages, a high tea service and unique cakes to order. With everything from grilled eggplant wraps and cucumber sushi to healthy treats like green apple and honey muffins, Sarah loves to use fresh, local ingredients to create healthier alternatives to some of our favourite foods and come up with new, exciting recipes. A few weeks ago Sarah was kind enough to find time in her busy schedule to catch up for a coffee and chat about all things business and baking. When I first started looking at Sarah’s website and the beautiful images on her Instagram, I was interested to know how Baked Livingness started. “I have a Bachelor of Interior Design and was working 48 hour weeks, so I used baking as a stress relief. I was working for a cafe in Albion, where Happiness Hub is now, and was baking lots there and it just grew. I work with Clarissa Rayward, (who owns Happiness Hub) at Brisbane Family Law Firm, and she invited me bake out of Happiness Hub - so that’s where I do a lot of my baking from.” Eating gluten free and dairy free as well as free from refined sugars seems to be a bit of a trend recently, so it was fascinating to find out Sarah’s motivations behind this type of baking. Upon asking about this, Sarah’s response was “I don’t want to be aligned with ‘gluten free’, I just create recipes that resonate with me and share them with people”. Explaining her process as “definitely intuitive”, coming up with recipes for Baked Livingness involves “practice and experimenting with different ingredients and how they work consistency and taste wise! I go with things I really love, like my recent obsession with thyme, but my key ingredients are herbs, olive oil, salt and pepper, garlic, almond meal, honey and seasonal fruit and vegetables.” Sarah recently her first e-book, which has a nice selection of recipes and some handy cooking tips. A collaboration with Clarissa Rayward for her new book ‘Happy Lawyer Happy Life’, Sarah didn’t find motivation in business or money, rather “wanting to show how simple healthy food is to make: you don’t have to spend hours in a kitchen to make something that will support you throughout the day”. Creating a sense of community and connecting people with food that has worked for herself is also a big part of the journey for Sarah. She also hopes to provide inspiration, and I know I definitely feel inspired to try some of her recipes! Speaking of inspiration, I was dying to know if there were any key people in Sarah’s life who prompt thoughts or ideas for recipes. “My partner’s parents are always cooking beautiful, yummy food for my partner and I when we visit them in Mullumbimby, so they always spark recipe ideas. I also love what Casey Lee Lions from Live Love Nourish is doing and her recipe development. I’ve done some catering for one of her workshops and we’re on the same path when it comes to food: not telling people what to eat, but letting people discover food for themselves.” It seems as though family and friends are a big part of Sarah’s Baked Livingness journey. “Mullumbimby!” was her initial response when we chatted about the future of Baked Livingness. “I would love to open a gluten free, dairy free and refined sugar free bakehouse in the hinterland of Mullumbimby. I think Baked Livingness will always exist, but what it looks like will probably change as it adapts with my life. I would love to help other businesses create recipe content for their business and like the idea of being an ‘ambassador’ in working with local businesses and communities. I also love teaching people and children how to cook and putting fun back into food.” Sarah already runs a series of kids cooking classes at Happiness Hub in Albion for kids aged 5-12. “They’re crazy!” she says about teaching kids. “I use humour to keep them entertained, while still being assertive. It’s a collaborative experience where everyone’s equal and we all learn from each other. I like to be more of a role model and a friend [to the kids] than an adult. It’s all about being open and honest with children, like when they say ‘I love sugar!’ I ask them how it makes them feel and explain how it affects their body. I think it’s important they become aware of how they feel after certain foods and what resonates well with them, not telling them how they feel.” She also likes to use these classes to provide parents with inspiration for school lunches and how to get their children to eat healthier. “There was a young autistic boy at my last workshop whose mum was having problems with his diet. She wasn’t sure what she could make for him so I helped her with some creative ideas for how to get him to eat more vegetables”. While she could have chatted for hours about food - as I’m sure a lot of us could! - Sarah had a busy day ahead and had to get going, so I asked her if she could sum up what Baked Livingness is about in a sentence or two. “Having fun with food! We have to eat, so we should go with what is working well with our bodies and always be open to the possibility of trying new things and experimenting. Baked Livingness is about eating food that is closest to its natural state. Livingness is the quality of having life and being alive, so that’s where I got the name from!” Be sure to check out Sarah’s e-book and the recipes she was kind enough to let us share with you. Subscribe to her newsletter to see what events she has coming up and be sure to get in touch with her before your next event or Christmas party!
AUTHOR: Jess Ryan
IMAGES: Supplied by Sarah Follent