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Food holds a sentimental attachment for many. When recalling special occasions, you can often remember the meal you had or a recipe can take you back to a happier time. For those with Dementia, it can be a powerful way to feel connected to their memories

Michael Chakraverty

Alzheimer’s Society, a charity dedicated to supporting those affected by the disease, is launching its fundraising Cupcake Day on Thursday 17th June. You can host a Cupcake Day by signing up online for your free fundraising kit, and get baking with friends. Funds raised will go towards supporting the charity to continue their vital services, such as the Dementia Connect support line. It is more important now than ever with the impact of the pandemic to ensure that support is available to those that need it. 

Having had first-hand experience of having a family member living with dementia, Former Great British Bake-Off contestant, Michael Chakraverty, acts as a Dementia Friends Champion for Alzheimer’s Society, leading information sessions on understanding the disease and reducing stigma. He has shared some of his best baking tips in support of the cause, making getting involved even easier. Here are a few of his top tips:

Miracle meringues: Don’t over-beat! Whisk lightly on a low speed, once you have ‘soft peaks’ add a dash of lemon juice or a pinch of cream of tartar to stabilise it before whipping to stiff peaks. Chakraverty emphasises a ‘low and slow’ approach to baking perfect meringues. 

Decorative designs: According to Chakraverty, an easy way to upgrade your decoration is to use a piping bag for a more professional look. 

Fruity fun: Chakraverty recommends swapping out fresh fruit for frozen in your bakes, for better shape retention. It slightly lowers the temperature of the bake, so lengthen your baking time accordingly. Chakraverty coats his frozen fruit in flour before adding it to prevent sinking.

Lorraine Brown

Lorraine Brown also has first-hand experience with the disease. “Because of my dementia I no longer bake. I had a few disasters – I used to do recipes from my head in the old-fashioned way” she says. “As my Alzheimer’s disease declined the cakes were coming out wrong as I forgot some ingredients, even though I was very meticulous and carefully weighed everything.” 

While Brown doesn’t cook anymore, she has fond memories of baking for her three daughters’ birthdays. “I made things like a dolly pram cake with a tiny doll in it, dinosaur cakes, My Little Pony cakes, fairy cakes with princesses,” she says. “It was glorious. I do recall those parties and cakes vividly.” In addition to these memories, Brown has had a hand-written recipe book since she was 16 years old with guides to all of her favourite bakes, including this Bakewell Tart…

Lorraine’s Bakewell Tart

Serves 6-8

1 x 375g pack ready-rolled shortcrust pastry

2 tbsp raspberry jam

125g unsalted butter

125g caster sugar

2 large eggs, separated

65g ground almonds

50g breadcrumbs

Icing sugar for dusting (optional)

  • Preheat the oven to 220°C, 200°C fan, Gas mark 7.
  • Line a 23cm flan tin with the pastry, trimming the edges.  Chill for 20 minutes.
  • Prick the base of the pastry with a fork and then line with greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans.  Blind bake for 10 minutes. Remove the beans and paper and bake for a further 5 minutes.  Remove from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 190°C, 170°c fan, Gas mark 5.
  • Spread the jam over the base of the pastry case.
  • Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the egg yolks, ground almonds and breadcrumbs.
  • Whisk the egg whites until stiff, and then fold into the almond mixture.  Spoon into the pastry case and bake for 35-45 minutes, until golden.
  • Serve warm or cold lightly dusted with icing sugar.

To see how you can show your support and get involved with Cupcake Day, visit alzheimers.org.uk/cupcake-day