Tuck into cakes, cookies and breads, made the healthy way

The strawberry cheesecake is denser than what one is used to, it resists the spoon a bit as it scoops out a semi-circular glob of pink deliciousness. One savours it like a six-year-old, oblivious to the heat outside, the strawberry-ness of it, looking at a banana walnut cake with real walnuts perched on it by way of decoration and then a carrot cake with real slivers of carrot with fresh cream icing.

No frothy, fluffy, snow white icing on perfectly-shaped cakes or cookies. Loafer’s Boulangerie’, outside ‘ Gokul Oottupura’ at ‘Itty’s’ in Panampilly Nagar, turns out be a surprise for a cake, cookies and bread shop. The cakes are not the fancy kind, they are the more traditional kinds.

The shop, which is more of a nook, is Ashwini Narayan’s brainchild. It is part of her contribution to the healthy-eating cause, her desire to bring in an element of nutrition into her baking. This takes us back to the cheesecake. It is denser than the ‘usual’ cheesecake because the cheese here is a combination of the healthier cottage cheese and yoghurt as opposed to cream cheese which is de rigueur. And is baked rather than using gelatine to ‘set’ it.

For this hotel management graduate baking was a hobby which she had abandoned and then took up post-marriage. She is married to Ravi Shankar of ‘Gokul Oottupura’. Two years of research, trial and plenty of errors later her cake shop was born. She says she has nothing against rich desserts but “those are for the weekend while these are more of weekday eats.” In moderation, she cautions.

There is a daily pattern, a menu of sorts for the cake shop, according to which she functions - there are two cakes and a cheesecake. Chocolate somethings, like cake pops, are a daily must, “for the kids” and the other will have some fruit or vegetable in it. The variety of cheesecakes is extensive – blueberry, green apple, butterscotch, kiwi, vanilla and the “hugely popular mango.” Toppings are either fruit reductions or a drizzle of cream or chocolate or yoghurt based icing. She uses refined flour but uses whole wheat flour on demand. “If you keep an ‘atta’ cake for more than a day then it loses its softness. I warn my customers.” Concerned mothers who give their kids muffins daily as snacks request her to use whole wheat. She bakes cakes on demand too.

She uses an industrial scale oven (a deck oven) and each cake or cookie she puts on sale, she bakes. She bakes in the mornings and the counters are ‘stocked’ up and ready for sale by 3 p.m. “If there are leftovers, they are binned because I do not add preservatives.” Another concern is wastage. Her cakes are endearingly imperfect, like it would if made at home. “Getting that perfect shape involves a lot of wastage and I cannot imagine wasting such amounts of food.”

Because she is married into a family whose business is food, she says, she gets plenty of support. The reason why she has kept the bakery out of ‘Oottupura’, she says, “I keep these out of ‘Oottupura’ because that is purely vegetarian and we want to keep both places apart for that reason.”

There will be a chocolate festival at Loafer’s Boulangerie on April 13 and 14 from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m.