Megastar Mammootty recently celebrated his birthday and wishes poured in for Malayalam cinema's evergreen star. Sharing a picture of himself cutting a cake, Mammootty wrote, "Wish I could share the cake with all of you as well!" Meanwhile, the cake with the royal blue icing fondant and a sapling in the middle had definitely caught the attention of his followers. The design of the sun drop plant in the bright orange shade was the highlight of the cake.
This stunning cake was baked and designed by Shazneen Ali, a homemaker based in Kochi. Shazneen who moved from Malabar to Kochi after marriage specializes in custom-made wedding cakes that are usually the centrepieces of wedding celebrations. Shazneen speaks to Manorama Online about her passion for baking and how she turned it into an amazing source of income.
"I had been passionate about baking from childhood onwards. I continued my passion even after I moved to Kochi. I baked cakes for functions in the family and for friends too. Besides, I attended a few baking classes as well. Soon, I began receiving orders through my friends. I have been baking and teaching baking for the last 8 years," says Shazneen.
Shazneen admits she has a special liking for elegant wedding cakes and enjoys baking and designing them. Interestingly, she has won many awards in wedding cake making. Besides, she has done hundreds of showstopper cakes for many high profile weddings. Wedding cakes are usually designed following a theme. The home baker says cake designing is as important as designing the wedding trousseau. She enjoys learning new techniques and styles in cake art. Shazneen, who believes that there is no limit for knowledge, says that there are countless online courses about cake baking and designing.
Cutting a cake and sharing its joy has been part of not just birthday parties but all kinds of celebrations for centuries. You could even serve slices of delicious cakes to your guests. Shazneen says the demand for homemade cakes has gone up during the lockdown period.
Mammookka's special cake
"Mammooka's birthday cake earned me rave reviews. Two months ago, I had baked a cake for Dulquer's birthday as well. It was quite difficult preparing that cake in the shape of his favourite vehicle. However, it was Mammooka's birthday cake that became viral. He had spent most of his time, during the lockdown, in growing plants. His daughter had told me that he was really excited to see his favourite sun drop plant, that isn’t usually seen here, bear fruit. She asked me whether I could recreate the plant on the cake. I did the royal blue cake in strawberry flavour. It weighed around two and half kilos,” explains Shazneen.
Shazneen and her sister Gazeena Sulu hold the record for baking the tallest wedding cake in Kerala. The sisters baked a 9 foot high salted caramel cake for the wedding of noted producer Santosh T Kuruvila's daughter last year. Their social media pages Sweet Life from Sulu’s and Indulgence too are quite popular. Though Gazenna is settled in Chennai and Shazneen is in Kochi, they would work together whenever they get big orders like a high profile wedding. The vanilla salted caramel cake was prepared in 7 days. Around 200 sugar flowers were used for the mega cake. The cake had cost around Rs 1.5 lakh. Shazneen says it was the most expensive cake that she had baked in her career.
Value for money
"The rate of the homemade cakes varies depending upon the design and the ingredients of each cake. It is costlier to bake individual cakes at home than producing lots of cakes together in a bakery. Now, there are lots of women who do cake art as a creative enterprise. It may take up to three hours to make the small sugar flowers that are used to decorate the cake. The cost of a cake is determined by considering the ingredients, creativity and also the time invested in baking and designing it. Do not think that homemade cakes aren’t as expensive as the ones bought from bakeries. I haven't had any experience of bargaining from my customers so far," notes Sahaznen.
Shazneen's success saga shows that anyone could earn a decent income if he/she is interested and has the time to make good food. It is easy to learn cake art and designing if you are a bit interested in baking. Shazneen says she constantly updates her tools and ingredients as per the changing trends. Shazneen's advice to those who wish to start a homemade cake business is to not sell the cakes at low price. The price should be decided considering the quality of the cake and the time you have spent preparing it.
Shazneen Ali is busy at her house in Kochi with a handful of orders for her beautiful designer cakes that tastes divine as well. Her husband Afshar Majeed and kids Aswa Afshar, Asim Afshar and Asah Afshar are very supportive and encourages her.