Marina Charles conducts baking classes

The small yet cosy hall at Adrak Hotel, Kumarapuram, is abuzz with activity and at the centre of it all is Marina Charles who demonstrates the method of making a good fondant. “Spread a ganache [glaze] and smoothen it before placing the rolled fondant on top,” she says, “That way the fondant will remain smooth when you cover the cake with it.”

Her students Avelyn Thomas, Midhu Nithin, Aswathy Udayarajan and Anu Peethambaran pay close attention to her instructions and follow them to a T. The students who come from diverse backgrounds find baking a stress buster.

A bake and cooking instructor, Marina’s first recollection of entering the kitchen is when she was eight years old. Her mother, Telma Gomez, would let her help her while baking Christmas cakes, remembers Marina, a former student of Carmel Convent Girls High School.

A financial consultant at a company in Bangalore, Marina left her job two years ago to pursue her love for baking, full time. “It started out with me baking cupcakes as that was the ‘in’ thing in Bangalore then. When people started appreciating the texture and flavours of the cakes, it convinced me that baking was my cup of tea.”

But it is not just cakes that Marina bakes. She prepares breads, pizzas and pies too. She also pickles vegetables, fruits and meats, makes cutlets, samosas, cooks Indian gravies on the stove… the list is endless. Her mother, says Marina, is her critic. “My mother believes in beating the cake batter with a hand whisk as she feels beating the batter by hand brings out a better flavour and texture to the cake. I have to work hard to prove it’s just the same when working with an electric one.”

But while her mom may feel she is still a half-baked cook, her friends and acquaintances beg to differ. Impressed with her cookery skills, they used to ask her for recipes and methods to prepare certain dishes. That is when she decided to conduct classes for those who were interested. Although her classes are in Bangalore, where she resides, a cousin persuaded her to start one in the city too.

The classes in the city are nearly a year old. “The classes began through word of mouth. My cousin brought her friends and they in turn brought theirs. I have a Facebook and blog page now wherein I put up information on my upcoming lessons et al. Those interested, send me a message.”

So far her classes in the city, which she holds once a month, take students through different levels of baking and cake decoration. Her next class in the city is in December. Contact: 9379398865.

A cake a day…

In the movie Julie & Julia, Julia Powell, a character in the movie aspires to cook all 524 recipes in Julia Child’s cookbook in 365 days. While Marina is just as ambitious, Marina’s is a ‘bake a cake’ project. “It started in January 1, 2012, when I baked an Angel Cake. My aim was to try out a new cake recipe a day the whole year,” says Marina. However, Marina had to take a break when she fell ill.“But I am now back on my feet and working with my oven. I share some of these recipes on my blog (http://mennas-cooking.blogspot.in/).”