Niha Naina’s company ‘Piece of Cake’ is a one stop destination for cakes, cupcakes and chocolates with interesting designs
Niha Naina has a penchant for confectionery. She, however, was not aware of this special calling and spent years studying finance. It took an MBA degree and a job offer from a multinational company to finally make her realise her true passion. “Cakes?” she asks. “I never once thought I would start baking cakes for a career. Heck, I didn’t even think of it as a hobby.” In fact, Niha baked her first formal cake only about three years ago—a stunning work of art for her nephew’s first birthday. “It turned out so well that many of the guests complimented me on my ‘special talent’,” she says.
Spurred on by the popularity of her first cake, Niha began baking regularly, for friends and family and for herself. “All of them turned out perfect and I realised I could be really happy baking cakes,” she says. After a year or so of practice, trials and errors, she decided to start her own company, ‘Piece of Cake’. The title notwithstanding, each cake involves a lot of work - starting from research to sourcing ingredients and interactions with the client.
A thorough process
The client asks for something, Niha puts in her ideas, and they arrive at a consensus. While some know exactly what they want, some of the requests need to be fine-tuned, Niha says. She usually begins work on a cake four to five days ahead. Most of Niha’s cakes are mini wonders in fondant (the icing-like substance used to decorate cakes). “You will not believe the variety of ingredients that are available today. If you are creative, you can do a lot of crazy things with fondant. It takes time to make as it involves cooking, colouring, drying and rolling out shapes,” she says of the fondant, which she makes herself.
Niha’s cakes come in a range of pleasing colours and curious designs. There’s buttercup yellow, satin pink, powder blue and creamy white. Then there are bows, lace, frills and flowers. “Cakes these days are no longer just chocolate. People are using cakes as a means of expression.”
Though a lot of her orders are for birthdays, Niha has had her share of wacky ones, too. A group of girls wanted a batch of innuendo-laden cupcakes for a bachelorette party. Another client ordered a cake for a couple to be given to them after the wedding, with ‘Game Over’ inscribed on it. One client wanted to propose to his girlfriend with an especially elaborate floral cake.
Yet another wanted his with alcohol mixed in it. However, Ben 10s and Angry Birds are still the popular favourites.
When she started off, Niha used to spend hours on the Internet, reading up on the different styles of decoration and other basic facts. “The Net has been my best teacher so far,” says Niha, who has done nothing more than a ten-day baking course in Kochi. “Since then, I learnt stuff by research and practice.” She still uses the Net to keep herself updated on trends and shop for certain ingredients and tools from abroad.
Though she has baked many cakes till now, Niha treats each cake as her first. “You know, every time it is different. There are people who ask me to repeat some orders, but every time, it tastes different.” Good different, because so far she has only got “happy calls” from her clients. “I am not completely at peace until they call me with feedback.”
Apart from her standard 1kg cakes, Niha also accepts orders for cupcakes. She makes home-made chocolates too, mostly with almond and praline fillings. The biggest cake she has baked is a 5kg-two tier cake. Niha can be contacted at www.facebook.com/pieceofcaken