From a small rack at local gas stations to a full-fledged bakery, 25-year-old Ammar Mumtaz has taken Burning Brownie to the next level by opening a café that promises to offer more cupcakes and coffee.
Calling himself a chocoholic, Mumtaz’s quest to make the perfect batch of brownies came with a year of research and hours invested in trial and error. Not aware of his own skill and talent, Mumtaz’s cooking was initially restricted to only successfully boiling instant noodles. “It was a night of experimenting with ready-to-make cake mix, which intrigued me to delve deeper into how this cake was made,” said Mumtaz. He then started following cooking shows on TV, and reading up online on how to make the perfect batch of chocolate brownies that would satisfy his taste buds. “I think I have baked more cakes in a day than many people would have done in their lifetime,” he said, laughing.
Once having successfully culminating a fool proof recipe, Mumtaz started catering to family and friends. Driven by the praise of his relatives and loved ones, Mumtaz then made a Facebook page, and was approached by the tuck shop at a petrol pump in F7. It started with a batch of 60 to 70 brownies, which went up to 100 cupcakes a day, he said. “I would always go pick up a Burning Brownie cupcake to fulfill my midnight sweet cravings, they are so fresh, even after 12am,” said Mohsin Khan, a resident of F7.
So what makes Burning Brownie cakes so special? For starters, Mumtaz bakes a fresh batch every day, and uses imported chocolate such as Belocade, Callebaut and Valrhona, which are ordered specifically for his cakes. Although he was using expensive ingredients, Mumtaz still kept his prices at a minimum. Due to this, along with tough competition in the market, he had to keep his profits low initially. “I had to make space for myself and maintain the quality of chocolates,” he said. Soon, with almost no advertising, the word of Burning Brownie went around town, helping Mumtaz generate enough profits to open up his own café in Beverly Centre, Islamabad. With creative input from 26-year-old Mohammad Hussain, and pricing at minimum Rs1,200 per pound for customized cakes, and Rs1,000 for regular cakes, Mumtaz is now heating up ovens at Burning Brownie, and catering to a large number of clients on a daily basis.
Now, on average, Mumtaz sells 12 to 15 cakes and four to seven customised cakes, daily. His decreased delivery time gives him an edge over other customised cake bakers in the town. With limited items such as shakes, coffees and smoothies on the menu, he is now venturing into mastering the art of savoury snacks for his clients. In order to satisfy his customers, Mumtaz believes that he now needs to master the art of making chocolate from scratch. With a degree in Business, Mumtaz has also planned to pursue his education in culinary arts, but before all that, he is all booked to travel to France, Italy, Belgium and Hong Kong. Burning Brownie is aiming to develop an extensive menu of savoury snacks for the café by the end of this month.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 16th, 2013.