KOCHI: “I was not happy with a 9-5 job,” says Fathima Azeem, a management executive-turned baker based in the city. After an MBA graduation, Fathima Azeem joined an international chain as an intern in the HR department. It was amidst those cubicles that she realised that a full-time job is not her cup of tea. She wanted to pursue a career where she could explore her creativity to the fullest.
Soon, Fathima baked her first cake—a birthday dessert for her husband and that is when she realised she could do that for a living. In no time, Fathima was baking for friends and relatives and taking orders for customized cakes. “I attended various classes and workshops in Chennai and Bengaluru. YouTube was of great help and I started experimenting on dummy cakes. I do the designing part and ingredient planning at night, while my 9-month-old child is asleep,” says the 20-something pastry chef.
According to her, a basic customized cake with fondant or ganache takes three days and the customised ones with specialised flavours may take up to a week.Fathima earlier used to source her baking equipment from Chennai. Now, everything from added colours and icing to other basic ingredients is carefully handpicked and sometimes sourced from abroad through friends or relatives.
“I make fillings from seasonal fruits, including blueberry. I avoid preservatives or food substitutes, like margarine,” she says. She believes that though customised cakes may be slightly more expensive than mass-made ones, the quality and personal touch makes all the difference. “The ingredients are expensive so are the props for presentation, like the board on which the cake is kept, buttercream and edible ribbons. I make cakesicles and macaroons with my cakes; not to mention the amount of time we spend finishing each detail,” Fathima said.
This budding baker is also planning to conduct workshops for women who want to learn the art. “There is a lot of scope for this profession in Kochi. There are many home bakers here and we get a decent number of orders,” she adds. Fathima has over 10k followers on Instagram and social media has helped her a lot in spreading the word about the business. “I am active on Instagram, where I share my works and receive feedback from my followers as well as customers,” says the baker.“I want to learn more techniques, designs and have a long way to go,” she concludes, as the oven in her kitchen rings, announcing the arrival of a new batch of well-cooked macaroons.