Creative cakes aren’t coming from corporate chains but from women who are balancing their passion to bake and a day job

If Nigella Lawson is to be believed, baking is an act of feminism. She says that being a domestic goddess is not about being, it’s about feeling like one. “Girly” accomplishments are no less achievements, just because they have always been associated with women. In the popular medico-dramedy Grey's Anatomy, Izzie, portrayed by Katherine Heigl, copes with the death of her loved one through baking. In Julie/Julia, the motion picture, Julie decides to cook every recipe in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking to motivate herself. Apart from being therapeutic, baking is also a nice way to make a little extra on the side. Hyderabad has an influx of women and girls who can’t wait to toss their work hats at the end of the day and put on their oven mitts. Most agree that it starts with experimenting on friends and family. The word spreads, and before you know it your next door neighbour has placed the first order. Violet Jessy, a soft skills trainer, works a long shift during the day and comes back home to bake.

“Baking is just an interest," she says. "Being a Christian, cakes and brownies were always a part of life. I am however more interested in chocolate. Following my dad’s footsteps, I got into baking. She finds it difficult sometimes to put in this second shift, but this is what she loves doing. Anoopa Lima, 30-year-old professor of psychology at St. Francis College, says that she started baking when she was very little. “I baked a cake in third grade and friends didn’t believe me,” she laughs. She has been baking for almost 12 to 13 years and she has gone commercial for the past one and a half years.

Anoopa is glad that her part-time work gives her scope to bake. But her mantra is not to bring college work  home. “Being a lecturer, I have to prepare for classes, correct papers but I try and keep baking and work separate,” she says. Anoopa admits to working for almost 19 hours a day when orders pour in. Regrets? None, it’s all too gratifying, she says. Nigella in the introduction to How To Be A Domestic Goddess says: “This is what baking, what all of this book, is about: feeling good, wafting along in the warm, sweet-smelling air, unwinding, no longer being entirely an office creature; and that’s exactly what I mean when I talk about ‘comfort cooking’.” Sindhuri, who works in human resources, bakes cakes, brownies and desserts. After coming back from the UK, she decided to work with a hospital and bake on the side. One and a half years into this small business, Sindhuri can’t be happier. These kitchen queens agree that the best publicity is word-of-mouth. Even though all of them have facebook pages, most orders they end up doing are for friends, friends-of-friends or someone who heard about them.

Maria George Tharakan and Hima Kanumuru have plunged into full-time baking. Maria is pretty well known in Hyderabad for her creamy treats. Under her banner of Olive Arts, she bakes cakes and cupcakes. A business analyst at an MNC, she used to work the regular 9 to 5 shift and then hurry back home to bake. For Hima Kanumuru, what started as a hobby has become a profession. She runs Frolic Cakes and whips up creamy layers. “I decided to get into it full time, people around me couldn’t believe it,” she says.