Sunday, June 25, 2017

In just 5 years, the Masterchef series has changed the way an average home cook thinks. And for a talented few, it has changed your average eggs, flours, butter and sugar dough into a pot of gold. I mean you just have to browse through your phone book to see that you have at least one home bakers number saved there. And chances are that you swear by her baking.

Thing is, the business of home baking has become a serious business. But is it an easy business, considering the highly evolved palate of Punekars? We talk to some Pune-based home bakers and get you the story of the grit behind the goodies.

Pushing the Puneri Palate: A challenge

Namita of Yum Crumb Co admits she only used to bake for herself or occasionally for a close friend. Gradually, people around her realized she is more than just an average baker and 3 years later, she quit her full time job and started baking full time. Today, she doesn’t have to buy any bakery item. Not even bread!

Namita admits that baking for Punekars is not an easy job. While most of her clients are pretty fixated in their choice of desserts, there is a miniscule percentage of population who welcome her newer experiments with baking. She takes part in flea markets and food festivals that allow her to try new flavors and combinations, but admits that Pune still has a long way to go in terms of pushing the palate beyond the tried and tested flavors.
However, she is up for opening a commercial outlet as she feels that the importance of a location cannot be stressed. A commercial outlet will mean her clients can access her easily and also, “gives more discipline and structure to your daily routine”.

Bringing the “West to the East”: A different home baker

A full time mother to two adorable kids, Radhika Vaidya of Baking News was never really into baking. So how did Baking News happen? Radhika chanced upon a cook book and noticed that the ingredients listed for a chocolate cake were very simple. The same day she made it for her family and came out with flying colors.
With support from her friends and family, she soon started baking for a select clientele from her home. Her challenge lay in the fact that her clientele was well versed with the newest kind of cakes making headway worldwide and wanted her to replicate it in Pune. For this Radhika had to learn a lot of different baking techniques. Even today, she says the learning continues and as she tries to find better sources of raw material for her “different cakes”
Will she ever open a commercial outlet? She says, she’s been there and done that. But the experience left her with little time to do what she loves doing best, Baking! So now she is back to baking from the comforts of her home. And yes, she does have a few favorites like the Shrewsbury and Ginger Biscuits when it comes to Kayani Bakery.

Making use of Local produce: A true Puneri Home Baker

All of 21 years, Piyusha Jere was inspired by Masterchef and started baking when she was just 15. She bagged her first commercial order at the tender age of 16 and since then hasn’t looked back. Piyusha says she loves using local ingredients for her desserts and savories, even making cream cheese at home! Local produce is always fresh and easy to procure. Moreover, since the raw materials for bakery products have a very low shelf life, it only helps to source them in small quantities as and when needed.

“Opening a commercial outlet is definitely on the cards, but I need to finish my studies so I can dedicate myself fully to the business”. For now she organises “Bake Sales” on FC Road and adds that the response is overwhelming. Not only that, she bakes everything at home right from breads and buns to muffins and macaroons. So there isn’t really a need for her to rely on any commercial outlet for her personal needs.

No matter how many local bakeries spring up in Pune, we think that home bakers are here for the long haul. Why do we say so? As Punekars, we love personalised and customised desserts. So, when it is a special birthday party when your cake needs to be just so, it only helps to be able to actually speak to the baker who is going to bake your cake. It gives you a power over how exactly you want your personalized item to look and what exactly goes inside it. A privilege that may not be possible with the biggies. What say?!

Feature image credit: Anant Nath Sharma used under Creative Commons License.