People Pastry princess Joonie Tan can create complete worlds with lots of icing sugar and some colour
A visibly nervous Joonie Tan stood amidst a whole lot of baking paraphernalia, blue prints of a Madagascar themed cake and three dimensional Angry Bird cupcakes. She is relieved as we start discussing what a rage the Angry Birds are, “Yes, it surprising how popular it still is in India. In Malaysia the fad is dying out, but over here people are still excited by it,” says Joonie who is settled in Malaysia where she owns a confectionary boutique, 180 Degrees Celsius.
She was in Bangalore to help set up and launch Lavonne Academy of Baking Science and Pastry Arts in the city, where she is also visiting faculty. She lends her expertise as facilitator for the specially stylised cupcake, novelty cake and cake decoration courses.
Tan was a little girl of four when she was first introduced to the miracle of baking and the joy it brings. “I used to help my aunt who was a very good baker and that was how I developed an interest in baking,” says the pastry princess who did not bake too much until she took a course in cake decoration last year, “It is a separate skill and to be good at cake decoration you need to not only have passion but be slightly creative and have a steady hand; the point is to make it look neat and realistic.”
At 180 Degrees Celsius, Tan takes orders to do cupcakes, novelty cakes and wedding cakes, “Novelty cakes and theme cakes are basically the same thing, where a cake is customised to the clients’ requirements. As an online business there are hundreds of people doing it in Malaysia, but not in India, there is still more room for growth,” says Tan who does cakes, cupcakes and cookies on order.
People like to customise their cakes depending on the occasion – it could be a farewell, wishing someone to get well or a corporate order, “The steps are the same irrespective of the order, find out how many numbers they want, if there is a colour preference and if there is a message,” explains Tan. Even with birthday cakes she spends time discussing the clients’ preference and then they zero in on something that both parties are comfortable with.
For the specialty cakes, Tan works with fondant icing which can be made with icing sugar, corn syrup and water, “My advice would be to buy it because it is very laborious and time consuming to make. In India even fondant icing is not easily available,” says Tan who brings packets of it from Malaysia so that her students at Lavonne can learn how to use it.
This is a trend that is here to stay and she explains why, “Novelty cakes are a specialty, they are customised to an individual’s tastes and interests to make their day more special and to the occasion more memorable – and that never goes out of style.”