Work Life Balance
Finding your work life balance while working from home can be difficult: Try baking! (c) Pexels

Home office vs. Home baking

Mag.phil. Petra Maria Kletzenbauer,

Teaching from home, arranging online meetings, working in virtual teams and completing research and writing projects remotely are now part of my home office activity.

Frankly speaking, the end of March 2020 has changed my (working) life completely. The lockdowns to stop the Covid 19 virus have turned many things upside down. As an enthusiastic teacher, who not only enjoys working with students in the classroom but whose teaching thrives on communication and classroom dynamics, the home office situation has presented me with great challenges.

Teaching from home, arranging online meetings, working in virtual teams and completing research and writing projects remotely are now part of my daily home office activities. Thanks to new technology and the advantage of being based in an IT department, has facilitated my “digital” life a lot. Despite some obvious benefits such as flexibility, escaping long commutes and avoiding office distractions, being accessible by technology all the time is stressful too. On the one hand, you want to be productive as much as possible, on the other hand you need to find ways that your work-life-balance does not suffer too much from the new situation.

Recipes to keep up your subjective well-being are usually endless but in times of lockdowns they seem quite narrow. Taking a walk, ringing a friend or reading a good book are a few ways to escape from the current situation but what else are people doing at home? Actually, they are baking and so do I.

Lockdown baking has become a very popular hobby all over the world. Food bloggers, social media evangelists and even popular magazines report that home baking is a way to find happiness at this difficult time. In fact, home baking activities can range from making homemade bread to joining online meetings in which you can actually learn new baking skills.

For me personally, the Great British Bake Off has recently been an inspiration for my lockdown baking. My new addiction is to create Pavlovas. Here is my favourite recipe:

INGREDIENTS

For the meringue
  • 4 egg whites
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • For the topping
  • 500g strawberries, hulled and halved
  • 200g redcurrants, stalks removed
  • 3 tbsp icing sugar
  • 350ml double cream

DIRECTIONS

Step 1

Heat oven to 150C/130C fan/gas 2.

Step 2

Using a pencil, mark out the circumference of a dinner plate on baking parchment.

Step 3

Whisk 4 egg whites with a hand mixer until they form stiff peaks, then whisk in 250g caster sugar, 1 tbsp at a time, until the meringue looks glossy.

Step 4

Whisk in 1 tsp white wine vinegar, 1 tsp cornflour and 1 tsp vanilla extract.

Step 5

Spread the meringue inside the circle, creating a crater by making the sides a little higher than the middle.

Step 6

Bake for 1 hr, then turn off the heat and let the Pavlova cool completely inside the oven.

Step 7

When the meringue is cool, chop 100g of the hulled strawberries. Mix them with 100g of the redcurrants and 2 tbsp icing sugar.

Step 8

Place in a food processor, blitz until smooth, then push the fruit mixture through a sieve.

Step 9

Whip 350ml double cream with the remaining 1 tbsp icing sugar and spread it over the meringue. Put the remaining 400g hulled and halved strawberries and 100g redcurrants on the cream and finally pour the sauce over the whole lot.

Strawberry pavlova
Photo: (c) Gregg Wallace
Strawberry pavlova

Try your hand at this traditional recipe and enjoy.

Petra Kletzenbauber