Pursuing baking professionally is not all rainbows, sprinkles and cookies; it’s a proper job and requires diligence and time. While some take it as a hobby, occasionally treating their guests with their delicacies, others take it rather seriously.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, well-known chocolatier Zarnak Sidhwa reveals that she started baking around 15 years, she was in London at that time.
“Back in the day, it was tedious to bring the baking ingredients from abroad to Pakistan. However, now, everything is easily available in town, just go to Bhori Bazaar and you will find all kinds of baking ingredients and utensils in the market,” says Sidhwa.
The chocolatier reveals that the initial days in baking are little pricey, however, once you know how to make a chocolate dessert, it comes down to half the price; experimentation and practice makes you perfect in the art of baking.
Nisha Masroor runs a home-based baking venture called La Chateau Bakery, which she recently launched on Facebook: “I have been passionate about baking since I was 12 years old. I used to bake brownies, cup cakes and cookies. That’s when my interest started.”
Masroor’s speciality however is cronuts - a cross between croissant and doughnuts first introduced and invented by Dominique Ansel in New York.
She was fascinated by the idea and after all the positive food reviews she read, she was really craving them. She started experimenting and made her own version of cronuts. Initially, she just made them for friends, but with their growing popularity and on the insistence of people who had tried them, she ventured a step ahead and made a Facebook page for her cakery business, titled, La Chateau Bakery. The popular food critique group Karachi Food Diary was a great place for her to advertise her goodies.
Sidhwa reveals that most of the bakeries here in Pakistan aren’t serving bakery items with the right ingredients. For instance, nowhere in the world does the Black Forest cake have pineapple chunks in it; the right fruit to put are cherries. However, in an attempt to cut down on the costs, the bakers substitute cherries with pineapples and that makes a huge difference in the taste.
Both Masroor and Sidhwa don’t cater to delivering eatables. Customers are expected to collect their orders themselves. The two discourage and refrain from taking any last minute orders.
Saman Ayub, who runs her business through a Facebook page by the name of Cakes ’n Creams, started operating about two years back. She too, is based at home and though she enjoys baking brownies, cupcakes, cake pops, truffles, cream puffs, éclairs and other mouth-watering goodies, she specialises in personalised cakes. Unlike the other two, Ayub doesn’t turn down last minute orders. “I never say no to my regular clients. However, I do prefer the earlier the better option. Also, I prefer baking one cake in a day,” says Ayub.
Masroor is all about experimentation in the kitchen, it takes up most of her time, but she really enjoys doing it. Currently, she is offering three flavours in her cronuts - original vanilla, chocolate and bounty. She thinks it’s time for her to bring out another flavour, though, lately, she hasn’t been getting the time to experiment.
For Ayub, her business is solely passion-driven and she plans of expanding from virtual to physical space and will be opening up a bakery soon either in Sindhi Muslim or Defence.
Is there scope for a bakery business? Sidhwa answered this query, stating, “There is a lot of scope. Various food channels have inculcated an interest in baking in their audiences. After watching my cooking show, aired on a local channel, people have opened up their own baking, cooking and catering businesses. It makes me feel proud, it’s an area that is not exploited and explored yet.”
Masroor implores that people need to experiment and figure out their interests. “They don’t experiment with their interest and hobbies here. Entrepreneurship is difficult, agreed, but trying it out from home shouldn’t be a problem,” she says.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 7th, 2014.
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