There was a time when Eid was all about gooey sticky mithai but not anymore. Bakeries now do a roaring trade in fancy cakes, pastries and all kinds of sweet delights. But if you’re looking for something a little more unusual or decorative, you can turn to scial media. Thanks to Facebook, a number of home-based bakers have found a market for their delightful creativity. Here we talk to two such ladies.
Just like the sugar plum fairy (from The Nutcracker), Saira Faruqi could easily be crowned ruler of the land of sweets. Her confections — usually customised novelty cakes for birthdays, weddings, anniversaries and other special occasions — are extraordinarily beautiful and by all accounts just as easy on the taste buds as they are on the eyes.
In spite of having no formal training, her novelty cakes — complete with hand crafted gum paste characters and often bearing her signature piped winding vines — are nothing short of perfection. Her clients appear to agree and keep her busy with orders; a regular work day is 12 hours long and on average she completes 14 to 15 cakes a week.
A creative person by nature and profession, Faruqi is keen to work with clients who give her the freedom to create something fresh and exciting. By the same measure, her aesthetic sensibilities occasionally make her averse to doing designs that she doesn’t like. Her personal design philosophy is minimalist but if she absolutely has to do a cake that’s too cluttered she gets her revenge by not posting any picture of it on her Facebook page!
So what does the future hold for this SugarPlum fairy? “Well, for starters I need a logo and a proper Facebook page,” she laughs “but I also want to register my business and have a daily set menu.”
Largest cake to date: Three tiers, 22lbs
Biggest cake disaster: “I had to deliver five cakes in one day; the last was a jungle-themed cake. After it was gone I kept thinking I had missed something. I later realised that the lion, the monkey and the elephant were ear-less!”
Advice to cake decorators: “If cooking and baking makes you happy, follow your dream. Word of caution: if you are proud of your work and worth your sugar, use pictures of your own work in online albums.”
Sam’s Cake Factory
A few years ago, Sumera Waseem was a bored Jeddah housewife with no social life; she had previously been a fine arts student and enjoyed painting, glass painting and drawing, but it wasn’t until she entered the world of cakes that her creativity began to shine. After having her daughter’s birthday cake designed by a decorator in Jeddah, Waseem wondered why she couldn’t do it herself. This was all the impetus she needed to enrol herself in cake decorating courses at the Wilton School in Saudi Arabia and eventually become a certified cake designer.
Once her training was complete, she set up a Facebook page and started running a successful cake business in Jeddah called Sam’s Cake Factory. A year later, Waseem along with her husband and their two daughters moved back to Karachi but the relocation of her business simply involved changing her Facebook location from Jeddah to Karachi!
Making roughly 50-60 cakes a month, Sam’s Cake Factory is still very much a home-based business. If Sam’s cakes had to be described in just one word, it would have to be ‘elaborate’. Each cake is a work of art with lots of large and small elements and details all carefully crafted with fondant and gum paste and finished to perfection.
Waseem’s skill and expertise comes with a hefty price tag — her cakes are priced at Rs 2,000 per lb — but judging by the number of cakes she makes and the fans on her Facebook page (over 60,000), she appears to have no shortage of takers and her clients clearly aren’t deterred by the price. She explains that one of the reasons that her cakes are expensive is that many of the advanced tools, ingredients and decorations required for them aren’t available in Pakistan and have to be imported.
Keeping this in mind, the small home-based company has plans to open its own cake supplies outlet at some point in the future, however Waseem is currently working on designing cake decorating training courses and hopes to start classes after Eid. In the meantime she wants to continue updating her own decorating skills and has recently returned from a round of training in Dubai.
Largest cake to date: A 35lb carved motorbike cake
Biggest cake disaster: “We had to deliver an Angry Birds cake to a TV channel for one of their cooking shows. On the way there, the characters on the cake fell flat because of the humidity. We had to re-do the entire cake in one and a half hour!”
Advice to cake decorators: “If you’re interested in baking you don’t always need classes. The internet is the best resource, use it well.