Baker’s more than a dozen

Express News Service

So your bestie loves pani puri and chocolate cake. How about treating her to a pani puri-flavoured chocolate cake? Or a biryani cake? A sushi cake even? Baking evangelists across India are pulling out all the stops in the oven to bring about innovations in baking. November 26 is World Cake Day, supposedly the day French queen Marie-Antoinette snorted, “Let them eat cake.” For us, it’s a good time to look at the exotic and innovative cakes that are creating a buzz. If you thought sushi was a small portion of vinegar rice wrapped around veggies or raw fish, rolled with seaweed, you are right! And if you thought cake could be nothing other than sweet, you are wrong! 

A sushi cake is a large round savoury slab consisting of the same sushi ingredients with an eye-ball grabbing presentation! Manpreet and Anupreet Dhody, sisters and co-founders of I’M Wholesome, a Mumbai-based brand, say, “Sushi cakes are prepared with fish, meat or vegetarian stuffing. Our range of 15 variants includes mango vegan avocado and shiitake etc.” The duo loved experimenting and that’s how the sushi cake came about.  Purists may call it a Japanese kebab, but who are we to quibble?

Manpreet Kaur wouldn’t. The bakepreneur from Hyderabad’s Malaysian Township, Kukkatpally, is known for her culinary experiments. “Old Monk cakes to biryani cake and chole bhature cake, I have made them all. One experimental customer has an offbeat idea and once I deliver it, I share it on my Instagram page @BlissfulBakesByPreeti. Then other people order it. I would’ve baked at least 20 biryani cakes this year,” she says. Some cakes taste the way they sound. 

Yet some others, like the pani puri cake, are about both the look and taste. Kaur used pani puri masala and pudina coriander paste for the tangy effect; she infused the flavour in the icing. The cake had a pani puri shape too. Kaur makes only eggless cakes and delivers across Hyderabad at a day’s notice. She is also the author of the now-famous Biryani Cake. After the first Instagram post, requests to make cakes based on a birthday boy or girl’s favourite north Indian dishes flood in. It takes Kaur eight hours to bake a biryani cake with cream and fondant. The toughest part is recreating the basmati rice grain look. “I used a shaping tool to get long, slender strips of cake and carved individual grains out of it. A combined effort, it took me and my family over four hours to create the grains,” she says. Her other specialty is paan-flavoured cake.

Cake as art is another Hyderabad baker’s motto as Prasanna Ravikiran of Sumeru Creations uses pointillism techniques to bake. “Many actors’ fan clubs order cakes from me based on the latest poster of their favourite star,” she says. She designs it using butter cream dots; an average cake takes seven hours to create. Her most recent success was the Diwali cake for southern actor Samantha Ruth Prabhu. Fusion cakes that blend Indian and exotic flavours are the trend this season. Another favourite is the syrupy rasgulla cake, a fusion cake that blends West Bengal’s rasgulla into a vanilla sponge cake made by Mumbai-based baker Pallavi Ved who runs the hugely popular patisserie Velvet Fine Chocolates.

Gita Hari, food writer and culinary consultant, recalls tasting a matcha cake while reviewing a bakery. “It is made with bitter green tea powder which has a distinctive taste, especially when mated with royal icing.” She was impressed by the rasmalai lasagna cake topped with blueberry compote baked by Shantanu Das, Executive Chef of Grape County in Nashik. Madan Kumar M, Pastry Sous Chef, Novotel Ibis Chennai OMR, reveals, “Watermelon is a favourite fruit since it is low in calories and is also filling. We can now eat it as cake. It can be constructed in two ways—the classic approach is to give watermelon colour and flavour to the sponge layers and coat it in fondant. The second method is covering a ripe watermelon without its skin with a sugar-free chocolate mousse to mimic the fruit’s exterior. This healthy option is most popular these days. To add a bit of twist, use a watermelon sorbet inside over a mousse covering.” You can have your cake and eat it too, whichever way you want.

Watermelon Cake/Entremets

✥ Watermelon: 1/2 size
✥ White chocolate: 250gm
✥ Whipped cream: 400gm
✥ Gelatin leaves: 5

For spraying
✥ Coco butter: 100gm
✥ White chocolate: 100gm
✥ Green Colour: 10gm 

✥ Carefully deskin the watermelon and retain the rest of the fruit 
✥ Soak gelatin in warm water and mix it with whipped cream
✥ Add white chocolate to the cream and gelatin mixture
✥ Coat the watermelon with the mixture and allow to set in a refrigerator
✥ Mix white chocolate and coco butter
✥ Coat the watermelon with the coco butter and white chocolate, and allow it to set for 2 hours 
✥ Once it is hardened, spray/paint the top with shades of green edible colour to resemble the outer shell of the watermelon 

Chef Madan Kumar M, Pastry Sous Chef, Novotel Ibis Chennai OMR

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