Many enterprising women in the city have turned their passion for baking into a money spinner

The baking scene in the city has changed. No longer are people content with the ordinary vanilla or chocolate cakes. Vanilla cupcakes with mango butter-cream icing, chocolate torte, blueberry pecan crumble cake… are the order of the day at get-togethers, parties and corporate events these days.

And while some of these delicacies may be available at certain bakeries, most are just a phone call away as more and more women find baking a piece of cake. Although baking is mostly a labour of love for them, they don’t mind the fact that it is also earning them an income.

Like Avelyn Thomas, for instance. “I was wondering what to do when I quit my job as a teacher due to a problem with my back. My friends who knew my love for baking suggested I turn my passion into a profession. Through my circle of friends, I have developed a modest clientele,” says Avelyn.

In the case of Diana Bhadran, it was an effort to kill time that took her to food blogs and then baking. A fashion designer-turned-baker, she swirls designs and patterns with intricate colours onto her cakes.

For Zeeniya Zulfikar, baking is now “an addiction”. Taught to bake by her aunts, she says she needs to bake at least one dish a day. “I feel depressed otherwise,” laughs the Sri Lankan who has been in the city for the last five years as her husband, Zulfikar, is working at Technopark.

And while most of these women are self-taught, Arielle Varghese and Benita Alfred Jones are two women who have some training in the ‘bake field’.

Arielle is a hotel management graduate from Christ College, Bangalore, who did her internship from Institut Vatel, France, and Benita is a post graduate in Hotel and Tourism Management from University Centre Cesar Ritz, Switzerland, who trained further in Liaison College of Culinary Arts, Canada.

It is not just a variety of cakes that these women offer, but savouries and sweets too. Marketing is done via Facebook where they post mouth watering photos of their end products.

Some bakers such as Zeeniya and Arielle have pages, The Hut and Mermaid Bakes, respectively, on Facebook where they take orders. Others take orders over the phone.

The fact that the goods are custom made and taste wholesome is perhaps what attracts customers they say, although some of their listed goodies are available at bakeries. “However, unlike most bakeries, we use good quality ingredients,” says Prabha Joshua, who is perhaps a pioneer in the “home baking” field as she started in the 1980s. Although her list of goodies may not be as long as the new list of bakers in town, Prabha is content as she has a “steady, loyal clientele.”

The young batch of bakers are inspired by the likes of Rachel Allen and Nigella Lawson but then so are the customers. Tuned into the culinary world the customers know their cheesecakes from their pies. “When once, we suggested cakes to clients, customers now know what they want,” says Benita.

And when once ingredients like strawberries, whipped cream and even chocolate chips were hard to come by, through the internet and certain stores in the city such ingredients are easily available.

Arielle prefers using locally available ingredients and seasonal fruits in her treats. “It is less of a hassle and as for using seasonal fruits, it is more nutritious and also tastier when compared to canned fruits,” she says. Benita is also a health enthusiast and is working on a line of sugar-free treats for diabetic patients.

When asked why they haven’t started bake stores of their own, these bakers cite various reasons: finance to start a store, trained staff, balancing home and work..., the list is long. The answer that tops their list however is that by working from home they can work at their own pace. Also, too many cooks spoil a broth, they say. And with that we leave them to bake on.

Keywords: baking