Tag Archives: desserts

A German Delight!

27 Dec

Tucked away in a quaint little nook in Whitefield is a refreshingly charming Café that will make you travel miles away into Germany. Joy Basu, who learnt baking during her stay in Germany wanted to create a place with food that makes people feel at home. Inspired by German flavours and baking techniques, Joy realized her dreams with ‘Café of Joy’ in Bangalore after bidding adieu to a successful corporate career.

From the time my friend and I walked into this café with pristine white walls and a hint of purple thrown in, we knew there was some good food in store.  The aroma of fresh bakes in this cosy café only affirmed our belief about what was in store for us.

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This time I wasn’t on a dessert mission alone so we decided to catch a bite before getting to the desserts. We went by the first option suggested by Joy – a German flat bread pizza. With a generous helping of cream cheese and  roasted capsicum, caramelised onions and goat cheese topping, the perfectly baked ‘Flammkuchen’ (flat bread pizza) was undoubtedly the highlight of our meal.

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Soon as I bit into the last bite of Flammkuchen, I had already short-listed the desserts in my mind. No dessert expedition is ever complete without some chocolate, and so the ‘Sacher Torte’ was the first to arrive on the table. The rich chocolate cake with subtle layers of apricot jam is topped with dark chocolate ganache, true to the traditional recipe. It’s a must try for chocolate lovers.

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Just when I was convinced that chocolate was going to be the winner yet again, Joy brought us some Fruhstuck Kuchen (muffins) in two flavours – Pineapple & Oatmeal and Blueberry. What happened next is something that has never happened before – I abandoned the Sacher Torte for the Fruhstuck Kuchen (alas, chocolate lost this time)! Though muffins are common in most coffee shops in Bangalore, these German muffins are easily the most moist and flavourful ones, specially the Pineapple.

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After a satisfying meal I walked out of Café of Joy  learning something new about my sweet tooth – chocolate doesn’t always have to win, given a fair chance other flavours can win over my sweet tooth too 🙂

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

When In New York, Eat Dessert First!

25 Oct

Soon after booking my tickets to New York I was already dreaming about all the food I was going to binge on there, specially the desserts. There’s so much to the dessert culture of New York, so much to explore and ofcourse SO many yummies to try.

So there we were, my best friend Naimeesha and I on a mission – on the streets of New York at 8.30 am on a bright and beautiful Saturday morning. Our first stop – The Diner on 9th Ave in Soho where we ordered a gigantic blueberry pancake. We had our doubts about finishing it, but before we knew it the pancake was gone.  It almost melted in my mouth and the fresh blueberries added so much texture to every bite.

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We had the rest of the day planned and it was pretty simple – eat, walk, eat, walk and keep doing that over and over again. Next, we landed up in the bustling Chelsea Market, just down the street from The Diner. There were so many cute little, creative bakeries and I wanted to get a bite from each one of them.

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A bright pink wall and irresistible aroma invited me into ‘Eleni’s’ bakery. Though my mind said “no, stop!” as I walked towards the counter to order my chocolate cupcake, my heart said “you would be a fool to say no to that piece of goodness”. Ofcourse, the heart won and how thankful I am that it did. It would be a shame to have missed that cupcake.

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As we started walking again (barely ten meters) we made a quick pit stop at ‘Ninth Street Espresso’. After all, you can never be too full for coffee.

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Turns out, the coffee did fill us up more than we thought and eventhough I walked into Magnolia Bakery, almost reached the counter to order but finally decided I had to walk more to digest all that had been binged on in the last two hours. I always wanted to hold that cupcake and sit right outside Magnolia Bakery with my best friend (just like Carrie and Miranda from the famous scene in Sex and the City) but well, maybe next time.

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After many hours of walking around in Soho and an intentional light lunch, we walked into ‘Georgetown Cupcake’. That chocolate ganache cupcake had ‘bite me’ written all over it. Being a die hard chocolate fan, it would have been a crime to shift my loyalties to any other flavour. So I decided to get a bit greedy and get two cupcakes. My second choice was the ‘Key Lime Cupcake’ and I can proudly say that it was one of the best dessert choices I’ve made. The key lime left such an interesting, tangy taste in my mouth with every bite. What a perfect end it was to an absolutely ‘sweet’ (literally) day!

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I just about managed to scratch the surface of New York’s best bakeries with this dessert expedition, just can’t wait to visit again.

Cupcake paradise in Hyderabad – Labonel!

19 Apr

Tucked away in a cozy little corner on a busy street of Banjara Hills in Hyderabad is a cupcake paradise, called ‘Labonel – fine baking’.

While in the city on work, a colleague took me there and mentioned they make some of the finest cupcakes. Being the dessert-o-holic that I am, I was all set to indulge. My colleague remembered the place from his last visit and took us right into the bakery which is otherwise difficult to spot, because there are no prominent sign boards, it is infact inside a high compound wall of a residence. Well, such is the popularity of the place! It does not need any sign boards or directions but naturally draws people there 🙂

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Though they have a variety of cakes, cupcakes and brownies, being a die-hard chocolate fan I went straight for the chocolate cupcake which is displayed on their trail table. There’s a piece of almost everything they sell on the trail table, so you can taste it before you buy it which I thought was a great idea.

I got myself an assorted box of mini cupcakes which had chocolate, red velvet and vanilla cupcakes. I found it difficult to start eating them because the packaging was so beautiful, I just did not want to destroy it. But then again, the cupcakes looked even more tempting!

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Perfect packaging

My first observation and what I loved about the mini cupcakes – there is no compromise on the rich, creamy icing. I have often eaten cupcakes with very little icing which has left me a bit disappointed. But despite the generous portion of icing, I give full points to the chocolate cupcake for not being overly sweet. The sweetness quotient is perfectly balanced with rich dark chocolate used in the icing.

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Mini Chocolate cupcake

The red velvet cupcake was amazingly moist, just the way it should be and the fresh cream cheese frosting made every bite perfect.  Though I found the vanilla cupcake a little too sweet for my taste buds, it is perfect for those who do not mind their desserts a little too sweet.  Even with the sweetness, the vanilla cupcake was full of flavor and did not disappoint.

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Mini Vanilla Cupcake & Mini Red Velvet Cupcake

With no compromises on packaging and ingredients, the pack of 16 mini cupcakes justifies the cost at Rs 650.

The quick stop at Labonel was definitely worth the time and effort! If you live in Hyderabad, or if you are visiting the city, don’t forget to grab a box of Labonel goodies.

The Baker Showcase in Bangalore

25 Mar

Bangaloreans were in for a treat on Saturday! 20 talented home bakers were under one roof at The Baker Showcase displaying the yummiest delights. There was enough and more to satisfy everyone’s sweet tooth and there were quite a few savory options too.

The bakes did not only look gorgeous, they even tasted great. What caught my eye was the level of innovation all around! Every stall had something new and unheard of, whether it was their fusion recipes, creative packaging or just their perfectly made bakes!

One of my favourites out of the 20 was ‘The Dessert Island’. Being a cola and chocolate fan I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect cupcake – the chocolate cola cupcake made my day.  The texture of the cupcake was just right with a subtle blend of cola in it. The icing was to die for..not overly sweet, just the way I like it. The little cola gummy bear and cut straw on top gave it the perfect finish. Their red velvet in a jar also deserves a mention.

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The yummy cola cupcake

My other favourite was the mini macaroons at Delicies. They were just so appealing that I couldn’t help but pick up some and they totally lived up to my expectation.

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The cutest macaroons!

What I did miss out on was Miss K cupcakes. I heard a lot of people raving about it. No wonder their stock was almost washed out by the time reached!

I was also awestruck with the packaging at The Sugar Goddess. Everything just looked SO beautiful, including their visiting card 🙂

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It was a Saturday evening well spent with beautiful bakes and it did do a lot of good to my Dent Sucree (Sweet Tooth) 😉

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