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15 Apr 2024, Edition - 3198, Monday

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Cakes, cookies and Coimbatore: a baker’s tale

Covai Post Network


A baker in Coimbatore bakes cakes for all occasions. Besides using the regular ingredients that go into baking cakes, she also offers to make them with wheat, jaggery and palm sugar. Her Thursday baking class is the icing on the cake.

Cakes and cookies are what come to mind with Christmas, chilly weather and sleets of rain. A slice of warm cake with a favourite beverage can be a complete meal or a fulfilling snack. The cake had humble beginnings in 13th century Egypt as sweetened breads, after which it spread to Rome and then Europe and England. The term cake comes from the Old Norse word “kaka” of Viking origin. The British introduced cakes to Indians during their 200-years of colonisation.

Today Indian cakes have expanded to innumerable versions that keep exceeding the limits of creativity. There are thousands of varieties of this confectionary that began as a simple mix of flour, sugar, eggs and butter.

Haseena Yaseen, owner of the The Cake Escape shop in Seeranaikanpalayam in Coimbatore tells The Covai Post, “I began baking with my daughter Niloufer for our family birthdays, then for friends and finally as a business about 15 years ago.”

She said the popular cakes are chocolate, vanilla sponge cakes, cream cheese cakes and Earl Grey tea cakes.

“We don’t like artificial colours and mostly prefer butter for our cakes. For certain cakes we use refined oil but strictly avoid vegetable fats or margarine. The flour is mostly maida or all purpose, but we also use wheat on request and of late almond meal for vegan customers. So we have both eggs and eggless cakes. Egg substitutes are usually curd and vinegar and sugar substitutes are jaggery or palm sugar, Haseena said.

The preferred leavening agent for cakes is baking powder and baking soda. Bakers prefer yeast for breads and buns instead of cakes, as it is taboo for vegans. They are spoilt for choice in flavouring essences and food colours.

Haseena adds, “Customers like iced cakes, but we do not use synthetic colours or decorations. So we have cooking chocolate for Ganache and butter cream frosting and fondant in rare cases which is usually bought at shops. We source cooking chocolate from Cochin but Morde chocolate is available in all supermarkets here.”

Haseena and Niloufer also run a bakery class every Thursday at their cake shop.

The traditional wood-fired ovens have been replaced by electric ovens and cooking ranges. Niloufer says, “We do suggest pressure cookers and pans for those who don’t have ovens but prefer electric and convection microwave ovens for even baking temperatures,” she says.

Cakes have a universal appeal particularly for all celebratory occasions besides being preferred gifts. “We have a medium price range of Rs.750 and can bake half quantities so it is affordable for all,” explains Niloufer.

Coimbatore has a booming cake industry, manufacturing industrial ovens, baking pans, trays and other equipment, confectionery and cake accessories, cake ready mixes and other tertiary products.

Technically speaking, running this confectionery has been a piece of cake for Coimbatore.

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