For the love of baking

Don’t we all swoon over the gorgeous cakes that keep popping up on our social media feeds? A majority of these drool-worthy creations are made by home bakers who have been in considerable demand over the last few years and are proving to be as good, if not better, than their professionally trained counterparts. While we ‘lesser mortals’ can rejoice the fact that we too can dabble in baking someday and produce a luscious dessert at home, the journey of these one-man (in this case one-woman!) armies is truly inspiring and has surely not been a cakewalk!

Boardroom to baking

When Karen Lobo became a mother a few years ago, she decided to leave her corporate job and follow her true calling — baking. “Even when I was working, I would often bake, especially during Christmas. But after I had a baby, I had to make a choice since I didn’t have much flexibility at work. Although it was a setback for me career-wise, my husband pushed me to follow my dreams,” says the owner of ‘Sweet Whisk — Just Plain Good’, a home-based venture in Malleshpalya, that has more than 8,000 followers on Facebook. “I started with small orders like cupcakes for house parties. Slowly, I started getting more orders thanks to word-of-mouth publicity.”

While her chocolate truffle cake, chocolate chip cake, red velvet cheesecake and honey pistachio cupcake sell like hot cakes (quite literally at that!), her cake boxes are a big hit too. Almost every customer of hers is a repeat one and many have even preserved the fondant toppings she has done for them. “I mainly use fresh cream and use fondant only for small decorative pieces. So I like to challenge myself and believe that I have edge over there,” she quips.

Anagha Gunjal Reddy stepped into the world of baking to churn out sweet goodies for her family. “I was a public relations professional and in the later part of my career, I was working in the education sector. So I had time in the evenings to bake, especially for my husband who is a big foodie. I started posting on the blogging platform Cucumber Town and my friend who was working there was my first client,” she recalls. She then went on to start ‘Synful Bakes — Eat With Love’, a venture based in Dollars Colony, and makes some of the most heavenly desserts in town. It has been four years since then and there has been no looking back for her.

Staying inspired

For Devyani Chudasama, owner of ‘Dodo’s Little Bakery’ in Hyderabad, it all started while reading Enid Blyton’s classics as a kid. “Enid Blyton introduced me to the world of afternoon teas, picnic lunches and midnight feasts of hot scones and jam, sticky ginger buns, shortbread biscuits, chocolate sponge cakes with cream filling, jacket-baked potatoes, fruit cake etc! My love for chemistry and background in pharmacy got me thinking about the science behind baking too.”

Devyani started baking to raise funds for underprivileged kids. “I worked for Teach for India in Bengaluru after pursuing pharmacy and during my fellowship too, I would bake during the weekends to raise funds for my class,” she recalls.

Although these entrepreneurs entered the world of food business thanks to their love for baking, they say turning your passion into a profession is not that simple. “Everyday, there are new techniques and new bakers in the market but you just have to start from scratch someday, adapt yourself to the latest techniques and get better,” says Anagha. Speaking about the challenges in the field, Devyani adds, “Since my set-up is small, one of my biggest challenges is to don many hats with ease. I am the
baker, sous chef, cleaner, marketing/sales head, operations and supply chain manager and sometimes, even the delivery person!”

But that doesn’t bog them down as they totally love what they are doing. “I hope to give baking lessons someday and start a dessert takeaway store,” says Karen. Devyani, on the other hand, aims to have a mobile bakery up and about, and also wants to give back to the society in her own way. “I want to set up community-run baking units in areas with under-resourced government schools. I also want to train the women of the community to run and operate these units and the kids of the schools to work on the marketing ideas. The proceeds from these will go towards the schools and the community,” she informs. For Anagha, who loves cooking as much as baking, opening an in-house restaurant on her terrace is the dream. “I wish to work with a set menu that changes each day,” she says.

Ask them about tips for all the budding bakers out there and they say that there is no shortcut to success. “Baking is not just about taking a recipe and creating the dish. You need to know why you are using a particular ingredient. Technique and precision are important,” says Karen. Anagha agrees and says, “You can’t just bake anything with any kind of frosting. Also, you can’t use low-quality ingredients. There is no point to a cake that looks great but doesn’t taste as good.” And how can one forget the most important equipment of the digital age — a good camera! “Invest in a good camera because today, everything depends on the click of a button,” says Karen.

So budding bakers, isn’t it about time that you brought forth your baking gear and started whipping away?

 

10-minute Butter Cookies (by Karen Lobo)

Ingredients 
Butter: 1 cup (good quality, softened)
Powdered sugar: ½ cup
All-purpose flour: 2 cups

Method

* Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Line two large baking trays with parchment paper.

* In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together. Add flour and continue to mix until you form a soft dough.

* Dust your work surface with some flour or powdered sugar and roll out the dough to ¼-inch thickness.

* Place a cookie cutter of any shape over it and cut it into shapes of your choice.

* Place these on baking sheets at a distance from each other. Repeat this process by gathering the leftover dough until all are done.

* Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the cookies are light golden brown. 

* Let them cool on a wire rack and enjoy with a cup of tea/coffee.

 

Salted caramel sauce (by Devyani Chudasama)

Ingredients

Granulated sugar: 1 cup or 200 gm

Salted butter: ½ cup or 100 gm

Fresh cream: ½ cup

Water: ½ cup

Vanilla extract: ½ tbsp

Flaky sea salt: optional

Method

* Whisk together granulated sugar and water in a medium-sized saucepan with tall sides.

* Cook over medium heat until the sugar is completely dissolved, for about 3 to 5 minutes. Add in the butter and bring the mixture to a slow boil over medium heat.

* Continue cooking until the mixture turns a deep golden brown which takes about 9 to 10 minutes. Do not stir during this process.

* Once the caramel reaches the desired colour, remove from heat and immediately add the cream. Be careful during this step — the caramel will bubble up and froth.

* Finally, stir in the vanilla and sea salt. Whisk it vigorously till the mixture is smooth and set aside to cool.

* Store the caramel sauce in a bottle in the fridge and use it on desserts when required.

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For the love of baking

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