Food can be a powerful thing. It provides tastes and smells and a doorway to another time, a happier place. The first thing Julie Jones states at the start of her book is that baking has always been associated with emotion for her. It comes from the heart.

Which is why she tagged herself The Soulful Baker on her Instagram site and why it’s the title of her first book.

It was also the key to connecting with her mum, Joyce, as dementia set in.

At first, they would visit cafes, but when Joyce couldn’t cope with going out, the couple would sit in Julie’s home, near Carlisle.

Julie admits they were long afternoons, so one day, the keen baker decided to get her mum involved.

Joyce couldn’t follow any instructions, but instinctively knew what to do when she was handed a whisk or a spoon.

“You couldn’t have a conversation with her or tell her what to do, but if you put a spoon in her hand, or a rolling pin, it would come automatically to her and she used to enjoy eating the cakes aftwerwards.

“It relaxed her, she was feeling needed again and useful. And she loved the cakes!”

She started an online Instagram account to record her sessions with her mum.

In one of her earliest posts from January 2015 she says: “I’m trying to make the most of time while my Mam remembers me!! “

Julie didn’t know how Instagram worked when she first tried it. She just knew she wanted to post some pictures of her and her mum baking.

Someone said if she used a hashtag for dementia and therapy, she could reach out to people going through similar struggles.

The feedback was almost instant. Viewers remarked on how they loved the pictures and said it encouraged them to do the same with their mothers.

“I found it very helpful. It inspired me to bake with my mam. I found it therapeutic,” she says.

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I've just signed up for this year's fundraiser, taking the first step to raise some more money to help find a cure for dementia. If you've followed me for a while you'll know that I walked 26 miles around Hadrian's wall last year to do the same (there's a story highlight saved for you to look through). Every single penny helps, all the fund raising we do helps to gain more knowledge in to why this disease stikes, helping to decipher the complexity of what it does to the brain. My hope is that one day there will be a cure - an answer. With that hope I can imagine a day when my Mum will be cured. A day when she gets up from her bed (her prison for years), calls out my name and embraces me. It needn't be a hopeless dream....with a constant urge to find answers I'll push on to help the amazing doctors, scientists and researchers achieve their goal, to find answers and to find that cure. Like us, so many are effected by dementia and what is alarming is that it seems to strike at a much younger age that it used to. It is so devastating for all, both heart breaking and gut wrenching, and that's just to witness. Imagine the torture, pain and frustration it causes the sufferer. I have written about our experience many times in previous posts over the years, this space being so helpful for me to deal with my emotions. Although I write about it less so now, now that my Mum is in a more content phase of her illness, it doesn't mean I have or will ever except that this is how it will end. I still have hope for a cure and I will do my very best to help find it. I have signed up to do the 26 mile trek around Stonehenge for the @alzheimerssociety this year. I'm doing my bit to raise money for that cure, I'm doing my bit for my Mum and for everyone who has dementia. I'm doing it because without the money for research there is no hope. If you too would like to walk with me, or on any of the 26 mile treks, sign up and register via the @alzheimerssoc website. Let's do our bit xxx For anyone who would like to donate to my fund raising efforts, there's a link in my profile for my just giving page. Together we will find that cure 🚶🏼‍♀️🙋🏼‍♀️💜 thank you xxx

Her cakes and bakes are stunning works of art. But she insists they are easy to make, it is just up to the baker how they decorate and she urges us to be spontaneous about what we do.

She had 20,000 followers when Quarto publishers approached her about producing a book.

Now there are 30,000 clicking onto her account, not just for the pictures, but for her thoughts about her mam and her thoughtful words on life. A slice of her life.

Her pictures are mouthwatering, inspiring and often works of art, her words online and in the book are chatty, encouraging, warm-hearted and often moving.

She says the postings are therapeutic. She offers up her thoughts and treasured memories of her mum and they help her come to terms with her decline.

One reads: “There are still moments when she says something that strikes you right in the heart.

“It takes your breath and makes you well up with tears. ‘You’re lovely’ she’ll say, ‘I love you’ tears filling her own eyes.

“Recently I tried to tell her about the book and everything that she has inspired me to do – I got a glazed look and the constant ramblings about whatever it is she was thinking of continued. My spontaneous response – ‘if only you knew Mam’....she turned to me looked at me right in the eye and replied, ‘I know’.

“Moments like that, they strike you, amaze you, fill you with love, sadness, happiness and guilt all at once.

“It’s such an awful disease, it really is. I wish when I visited she would lift her arms and cuddle me back.

“Some days you just need a cuddle from your Mum, no matter how old you are.”

A recent posting of some chocolate ganache biscuits read:” I can always see my mood reflected in whatever it was I have made.

“The iced biscuits taking an unusual direction last night. I think I was feeling a little bit firey!

“I don’t get like that too often now, getting older, having far more patience than I have ever had before (caring for Mum taught me that) and I’m wiser, well... I think so.

“Now when I get a bit miffed, instead of venting instantaneously, I just take a breath, think it through, have a glass of wine and Bake it off....Bake it off....Bake...Bake.” Before what she calls ‘all this’ with a wave of both hands, Julie worked in an office in accounts and management.

It was after meeting husband Jonah that she discovered her love of cooking and, aged 30, she gave up work for a cookery course at Carlisle College.

In her final year, she insisted on taking a pastry course at Kendal College then went to Heston Blumenthal’s the Fat Duck and his gastropub the Hind’s Head for work experience.

She was so amazed by her time there that she determined to be a chef, but with a small child and another on the way and her mum just diagnosed with the cruellest of diseases, she gave up her dream for her responsibilities.

She did manage too cook for one of her heroes, Pierre Koffmann, when she appeared in the first series of the BBC cookery show Yes Chef and he was so impressed that he endorsed her book.

Now, the 39-year-old is mum to Evan 16, Oscar, six, and Miles, four, and she regularly bakes with the two youngest.

“If I have got something to make over a weekend, I will get them involved,” she says. “Or on rainy days, or when they are bored in the holidays”.

Jonah works in security and is abroad a lot. Julie does much of her cooking in the evening, once the little ones are in bed.

She doesn’t watch much TV. If she does, it’s usually a film with Jonah and a bowl of pasta. She hosts a weekly supper club on a Friday – a three course meal that allows her to exercise her repertoire of savoury dishes for starters and mains.

Her instagram following has surged since the release of her book and the promotion surrounding it, but while she’s pleased to connect with so many, but for her it is about the people, not the numbers: “I have got some lovely followers, they send me lovely messages. I answer them all.”

And she not that interested in sales either, she scrunches her nose when asked about number: “I don’t know about that, I leave it to others.”

She does know the book is selling all round the world as her fans message her with their purchases – including one woman from Japan.

The book was published on September 21, World Alzheimer’s Day, entirely coincidentally.

“When I found out , it made me cry. It was a strange, ironic thing. It was like it was meant,” she says.

On her Instagram account she wrote: “This book would never have been written if not for the sadness that Alzheimers brought to our family – this awful disease taking away my mother’s beautiful soul.

“I would never have thrown myself in to the creativity of baking, that baking in turn helping me to cope with the grief of losing my dear Mum.

“I would never have discovered that I could write so openly about how I was feeling, feelings that I would normally have kept locked away.

“Writing to an unseen audience has proven to be very therapeutic! Thank you so much for listening, I shall be forever grateful to those that chose to listen and continue to do so now.

“Friendships that we have formed throughout these years will be life-long I’m sure.

“The opportunity of writing this book means that my mum will be forever remembered within its pages – her love, recipes and photographs intertwined between each page... our story hopefully bringing light and hope to others going through similar.

“I do hope you enjoy the book... I hope you go on to recreate the recipes with love in your heart and so go on to create special moments for your family to enjoy.

“Thank you – every one of you for your unwavering support.”

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Can you remember my Insta stories a couple weeks back? @thesheiladillon came to my house to make pies, such a lovely day! We talked all about pies, why making, eating and sharing them makes us happy. Why I decorate them so elaborately and of course we talked about my dear Mum. I really enjoyed our chat. You can hear the interview this Sunday - Mothers Day here in the UK. How fitting my Mum get a mention on bbc radio for Mothers Day! I love it. If you'd like to listen, do tune in to Radio 4 @bbcfoodprog this Sunday at 12.30, with a longer version airing on Monday at 15.30. The programme is available online and the podcast is available to download after it has aired. I'll pop the link in my profile. Also, it's a total honour to be have been interviewed for the same 'special pie programme' as the pie master @chefcalum 🤘🏻 We still need to get that collaboration sorted! Have a great weekend folks....I'm just off to prep for our Supper Club at Jamie HQ. Eeeeeeeek x Keep those eyes peeled for stories all day long xx

Joyce is now bed-bound and in full time care at Kingston Court in Carlisle. Julie visits three times a week, always with a cake.

“I took her a lemon tart the other day and you could see her mouth go whoosh! It brings her a lot of pleasure,” she smiles.

“I’ll take a custard tart I made for the supper club last night ‘cos her mum used to make lovely custard tarts.”

Though her beloved mam can no longer join in, Julie wants to hold sessions to get other dementia patients at the centre involved in baking.

Her closing passage in the introduction to her book could be life advice: “What is important is to make these bakes your own, use these decorations as inspirations, as a starting point... it can be quite surprising what can appear in front of you when your creative side takes over!

Be spontaneous, be unique, be authentic, be proud of what you are making and most importantly, bake with love in your heart.”

Soulful Baker (£20), published by Jacqui Small, is out now.

Julie will be talking about her book and signing copies (and bringing a cake) when she appears at the Cake & Ale cafe at Bookends in Carlisle on Wednesday, October 18. For details, call 01228 529067