Bowled over cakes: Chef Bhavana Ballari's cake workshop

Chef Bhavana, who has a diploma in bakery and chocolate arts and has worked at a Michelin star restaurant in France, also runs her own beloved pet bakery, Sabrosa
In her Sunday workshop Sip and Frost, Chef Bhavana Ballari introduces a room full of earnest attendees to the art of cake decoration through Bento cakes.
In her Sunday workshop Sip and Frost, Chef Bhavana Ballari introduces a room full of earnest attendees to the art of cake decoration through Bento cakes.Photo | Express

HYDERABAD : Cakes are a beloved dessert the world over, whether they’re a delicious family treat from the neighbourhood bakery or a beautifully decorated centrepiece for a special celebration. Being so popular, it’s not surprising that cakes have been the subject of many trends and creative explorations, from hyper-realistic cakes to minimalistic looks that beckon people to come participate in the fun. In her Sunday workshop Sip and Frost, Chef Bhavana Ballari introduces a room full of earnest attendees to the art of cake decoration through Bento cakes.

“I organise Sip and Frost workshops on a regular basis,” she explains. “I have always loved baking, and I want to teach more people to make cakes. Learning to frost a Bento cake is the most fun, easy place to start, especially for beginners — Bento cakes are just smaller versions of normal cakes, so they’re easier to work with and learn on, and cake decoration is always fun for everyone. I want to expand into other kinds of workshops too, eventually.”

The atmosphere is one of anticipation along the row of makeshift workstations at Café Navika in Jubilee Hills, as Chef Bhavana takes centre stage, immediately breaking the ice with her friendliness. A short round of introductions later, the real work begins, as the acclaimed party chef launches into a delightful demonstration. After making sure we know the different professional tools at our disposal, she guides the class of beginners into the correct techniques to mix and apply the frosting onto the sponge cakes she has already prepared. There are also jars of chocolate ganache and various fruit compotes that participants can use as filling in any combination they please.

Everyone is laughing and talking freely by the time the cakes have been layered, discussing the flavours and designs they want to pull off. Among technical details and fun facts, Chef Bhavana also explains the meaning and origin of Bento cakes – simply translated, “lunchbox” cakes, an idea from Japan for mini cakes that can be packed in a lunchbox and eaten in one go.

Finally, the most eagerly awaited part of the workshop — the final decoration of the Bento cakes. Creative frenzy reigns as everyone mixes colours, pipes frosting, and swaps sprinkles to achieve the designs they want. It’s far past the official end of the session by the time everyone is done and satisfied, and as they admire each other’s cakes, there is no face left without a smile.

“I loved this whole evening. I came here with my friends just to have some fun, but I also ended up learning a lot about cake decoration!” a beaming attendee says, holding up her boxful of cake proudly. “My favourite part was towards the end, where we finally decorated the cakes — we were taking it sort of seriously before, trying to understand the technical part as well, but at the end we just got to let loose, have fun, and unleash our creative spirits.”

“I’ve seen so many videos about cake decoration on YouTube and social media, but this is the first time I could actually learn and do it myself!” another participant adds ecstatically.

“I love teaching and talking to people. It’s fun to be around creative people who want to learn, and I meet so many different kinds of people from a variety of backgrounds when I teach. Every person carries a story, and I enjoy helping them channel their creativity in a new– and yummy– form,” Chef Bhavana explains when asked what her favourite part of the workshop is.

Chef Bhavana, who has a diploma in bakery and chocolate arts and has worked at a Michelin star restaurant in France, also runs her own beloved pet bakery, Sabrosa. She makes delicious cakes suitable for both humans and furry friends and delivers all over Hyderabad. She credits her love for her art and her steadfast and supportive partner Sam for keeping her motivated and driven and hopes to open her own studio soon as well.

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