The passion for baking ignited in city-based Shivesh Bhatia thanks to two women in his family. Growing up, the self-taught baker and food blogger often watched his mother and nani (maternal grandmother) bake. The 25-year-old says, “I took it up as a hobby in school. Even while pursuing a degree in Political Science in 2016, I had enough time on my hands. So I started baking more passionately, started blogging and actively posting pictures on Instagram.” Soon, Bhatia was confident he could turn this into a full-time profession; so he did.
In his decade-long career, Bhatia has managed to expand the scope of his culinary expertise beyond the kitchen. He has authored two cookbooks, and has two more in the offing — an illustrated recipe book for kids and a book on eggless recipes. Bhatia mentions, “It is an attempt to help kids develop an interest in the kitchen.”
Was being an author always part of the plan? He answers, “Writing a book was a dream even before I became a blogger.” He was optimistic that such an opportunity would come by when he reaches 30 or 35. “Instead, I got an offer from HarperCollins Publishers right after graduation,” Bhatia adds.
Unfortunately, there weren’t many Indians publishing recipes online when he started. Bhatia, however, would look up recipes by culinary mogul Martha Stewart and English food writer, Nigella Lawson. “It was challenging as many ingredients and equipment they worked with was unavailable here. That encouraged me to create a blog for recipes tested in an Indian kitchen.”
Food styling is another skill he developed over time. “I always wondered why my cake doesn’t look as appetising as the ones seen in photographs posted by international bakers. I even realised that people don’t trust a recipe if the picture isn’t appealing enough. So, I spent more time making my dessert look as good as it tastes,” says Bhatia, whose go-to props are newspapers or the rolling board.
As of now, Bhatia doesn’t bake commercially. He admits that he doesn’t have the time or the bandwidth to work with a store. “But I will take the plunge when I know I can manage it along with a café. My aim is to encourage people to bake,” he concludes.
Rose Milk Cake Recipe
- 1 ½ cups (180g) all purpose flour (maida)
- 1 teaspoon (4g) baking powder
- 1 cup (285g) yogurt
- ½ teaspoon (3g) baking soda
- ¾ cup (150g) castor sugar
- ½ cup (120mL) vegetable oil
- ¼ tsp kewra extract
- 1 tbsp (15 gm) Rooh Afza
- Red food colour
For the soak
- ½ cup (153 gm) condensed milk
- ½ (115 gm) fresh cream
- 1 ½ (360gm ) cup milk
- 4 tbsp Rooh Afza
- Whipping cream nGold leaf
- Chopped pista nDried rose petals
- Pre-heat the oven to 180 degree C and line a 9x13 inch rectangular pan with parchment paper.
- In a bowl, add the yogurt and sprinkle baking soda over it. Set it aside to foam up.
- Add castor sugar, oil and Rooh Afza into the same bowl. Mix until it combines well.
- Gently sift the flour and baking powder. Mix until everything combines well and you find no large flour pockets in the batter. Add the food colour and mix.
- Transfer the batter to the prepared cake pan.
- Bake at 180 degree C for 30-35 minutes.
- While the cake is baking, make the milk mixture by combining milk, fresh cream, condensed milk and Rooh Afza. After the cake is done, trim the top and pour the milk liquid on the cake. Tilt the pan so that the milk covers the cake entirely.
- Let it set in the fridge for one hour.
- Demould the cake from the pan, top it with whipped cream, pistachios, rose petals and some more liquid to serve.
This recipe is by Shivesh Bhatia