Tag Archives: cake

Swirling Up a Cupcake Storm!

20 Nov

27-year old Shitija Nahata started baking as a hobby for family and friends. Little did she know that in just less than two years she would be on her way to building one of the most sought after dessert destinations in Bangalore and Chennai. Her delectable delights have made The Cupcake Company a favourite among most dessert lovers in these two cities. I got chatting with her about her journey so far, future plans and what baking means to her.

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On finding her passion

Soon after her wedding, Shitija bid adieu to her 7 year long career in marketing and started spending a lot of time in the kitchen, doing what she loved doing since childhood – baking for friends and family. “Baking wasn’t new to me. I loved doing it as a little girl and it always caught my fancy. I still remember the first time I made a chocolate mousse, I’ve been fascinated with baking ever since. I probably just didn’t have enough time for it when I was building a career in the corporate world. But soon after my wedding I decided to get back to it” says Shitija. Baking for family and friends and posting pictures of her creations on Facebook attracted a lot of attention and compliments, and even offers from the best bakeries in Chennai for partnerships. But Shitija didn’t want to be a supplier to these bakeries, she wanted to create a brand of her own. After testing her products and baking from home for over a year, Shitija took the plunge and opened her first store in Chennai – The Cupcake Company.

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On building a business and a brand

While passion is key to creating a truly wonderful product, a good business sense helps take the product to places. In my conversation with Shitija, I sensed strong business acumen and great emphasis on ‘brand building’. “When you are confident of your product and know it’s good, the next step is to ensure it’s in the right place at the right time. Your choice of store location, interiors etc can play a big role in creating aspiration with your consumers and building your brand. For example, we chose Indiranagar in Bangalore because it felt right to be there, we wanted to be visible in the company of the best” says the businesswoman in the baker.

To be able to build a brand, one has to be very closely involved with every aspect. Apart from quality control and routine baking, Shitija makes note of every feedback the store receives “I ensure I reply to every email, every Facebook comment and every message myself. It helps me stay in touch with reality and know the good or bad first hand”.

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On creating a niche

There are thousands of bakers across these two cities and cupcakes are no novelty anymore and are available in plenty, so what sets The Cupcake Company apart? “I can confidently say that our quality sets us apart. We have never compromised on our ingredients; we use only the best even if it costs a little extra. And loyal customers are won only with great quality and service “ says a confident Shitija. “Customization is another forte we are proud of. There is no customization request that we have ever turned down and we have always delivered to perfection”.

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On learning and growing

Shitija never went to a culinary school, she’s a self-taught baker but a firm believer in ‘practice makes a man perfect’.  She still remembers an incident when a friend challenged her to make macrons, something she had never done before. She tried and tested different recipes for over four months until she perfected the art and was proud of her creation. “I travel extensively and always bring back some learnings from my travel. I do a lot of research before I visit any place about the bakeries and chefs in the city and ensure I pay a visit to stay updated on what’s happening in the baking world”.

Expanding to other cities is definitely on the radar for The Cupcake Company but Shitija wants to do it herself and not with franchisees “We will expand to other cities but I’d much rather do it myself than get into a franchisee model because I want to have complete control over quality”. As she reveals her ambitions she adds, “One day I want to open a restaurant too, I’m just not sure if it’s the right time yet”.

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On her support system

While the idea and the effort is her own, there are a lot of people who have contributed to Shitija’s success. She doesn’t shy away from talking about her husband and mom, who have helped her build The Cupcake Company from scratch. “My husband is a finance guy and he knows the tricks and traits of business too well. Everytime I think of expanding or opening a new store he makes me present a business plan to him and weighs out all pros and cons with me. He ensures I don’t get carried away and helps me make smart decisions” says Shitija. “My mom has always been around to help me, she spends time in the stores when I’m traveling or manages the show when I’m busy experimenting with recipes. She’s been a big part of my journey” she adds.

Photo Credits : Kunal Chandra & The Cupcake Company

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The India Depressed Cake Shop!

16 Nov

‘Stressed spelled backwards is Desserts’. I’ve seen this line in many posters at cake shops and I couldn’t agree more. Many of us often pick up a dessert to lift our mood when we feel low. But what about those who live in a state of distress day in and day out? On 16th November, desserts played a big role in making a difference in their lives. Lavonne decided to raise awareness and support a global movement for those suffering from depression and mental illnesses by organizing a one day pop up cake shop – The India Depressed Cake Shop in Bangalore. The idea was simple – every baker in the city who wanted to support this cause could volunteer to display and sell their goodies and the proceedings would go to an organization named ‘Medico Pastoral Association’.

When so many bakers come together, ofcourse there has to be a creative twist. The only condition was to ensure all desserts have an element of ‘grey’ – a colour to signify depression. Over thirty bakers from the city came together to support this cause and showcase their goodies.

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Expecting to see a lot of grey colored desserts, there I was, ready to do my rounds at the stalls. As I started chatting with the bakers I realized how every dessert was so thought through and had a story behind it.

Sandhya, a software engineer by profession and a home baker (Cake My Heart) by passion told me about her ‘Vanilla Confetti Cake Pops’. Each one of them had a different shape but with pretty grey flowers on top to state that each person is different but pretty in their own way. And then there was her Chocolate Blackout Cake that was covered with glitter with a message that there is a bright side to everything that’s dark.

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Similarly Purbasha of Sweet Nothings offered me a beautifully layered jar with a cinnamon infused biscuit layer at the bottom, a layer of dark chocolate cake and ganache and on top of was a layer of grey coloured Swiss meringue. When I dug into the jar for my first bite, pop came out a bright red cherry. The message she wanted to convey was simple – no matter how grey we feel on the outside, but inside all of us have a heart which is pretty similar.

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It was great to see support with stalls by established names such as Chef Girish Nayak of Olive Beach, Monica Manchanda of Sin-a- Mon and Leela Thomas of Cupcake Noggins to bakers who have ventured into the baking world just off late. One such baker was Hajra who was filled with excitement to showcase a beautiful Ombre Cake for the first time, especially for a noble cause.

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I absolutely loved the whole idea behind this pop up cake shop! It definitely made me give this cause a thought. Kudos to Chef Vinesh Johny, Jonnie Tan and the entire Lavonne team for bringing this to life.

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The MUST bake Chocolate cake

22 Mar

You cannot NOT learn to bake a chocolate cake, it should be on everyone’s bucket list!

There is something about a chocolate cake that can never go wrong because it is loved universally. It’s that one cake that people grow up baking and watching their mommies bake. There are so many recipes for chocolate cakes because every household has their own version but if you haven’t tried baking a chocolate cake yet, here is a simple recipe that can win you lots of praises and get you started with baking.

Try this recipe and when in doubt, bake a classic chocolate cake with ganache 🙂

Ingredients (approx 1 kg, makes 8 slices)

For the cake

200 gms plain flour

200 gms caster sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

40 gm cocoa powder

175 gms unsalted butter

2 large eggs

2 teaspoon vanilla extract

50 ml milk

For the chocolate ganache

200 ml fresh cream

200 gms dark chocolate

The ingredients

The ingredients

Step 1

Getting the mix together for a chocolate cake is simple. Simply mix all the ingredients for the cake together and use an electric blender to get a smooth mixture.

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This should be the consistency of the cake mixture

 

Step 2

Butter a baking tray and pour the mixture in it. Preheat the oven and place the cake mixture to bake at 180 degree C for 30-40 mins. After 30 mins poke a toothpick inside the cake, it has baked perfect if the toothpick comes out clean.

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Set the cake mixture in the baking tray

This is what the cake should look like when its out of the oven

This is what the cake should look like when its out of the oven

 

 

Step 3

To make the chocolate ganache pour the cream in a bowl over a double boiler. Add chunks of the dark chocolate until it melts completely.  Take it off the double boiler and let it cool.

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Process of making the chocolate ganache

 

Step 4

Once the cake and chocolate ganache cool, spread the chocolate ganache on the cake.

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Chocolate ganache spread over the chocolate cake once cool

 

You can do various things to beautify your cake, regular icing gets a bit boring so I chose to place some chocolate cigars and they look great on the cake..you can try the same too 🙂

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The cake is ready!