Maa: What’s that? A red velvet cheesecake at 8 in the morning!
Me: Because I’m having one of those days.
The kind of day when I have excessive mood swings, and only an exotic dessert has the power to calm me down. And I must admit, these sweet wonders have always managed to de-stress me and helped me in handling anger sensibly.
Desserts for me have always been a personal affair unlike any other course of a meal. I can offer my food … errrr as in a small bite if someone requests me multiple times, but I would never ever share my desserts — no matter what. Close friends and family are very well aware of my very little self-control on my killer sweet tooth. And the passionate love has now turned to an “I can’t survive a single day without it” kind of addiction. Every single day, I crave for something sweet — whether it is cake, ice cream, cupcakes, pies or mithais — I don’t discriminate.
So naturally, when I learnt that a home baker called Love is .. Cakes is taking the Capital by a storm, I had to try them out.
When I checked out their Facebook page, my eyes were drawn to the colourful range of cupcake flavours on offer and as I looked further there were tea cakes, fondant cakes, love jars, cookies, and what not!
There was a birthday coming in our house, and I decided to get a cake from them this time. Seeing the pictures of the caramel to lemon cheese and red velvet cakes, I had changed my mind thrice about what I was going to order. I can only describe the amount of choice on offer as every dessert lovers’ dream.
Little I was aware of their signature products, I dropped in a message requesting for a chocolate cake. Nandita Mehta, the co-founder suggested me to opt for a chocolate fudge caramel cake, which she claimed to be one of the signatures among others. And once the product got delivered, well, I fell short of words to describe the beauty. Every guest present on the day went for a second slice of the cake.
As I said, there are those annoying times when only a dessert, ummm … only good desserts can fix it up, on one such day, I ordered an assortment of cupcakes in red velvet, lemon, dark chocolate, caramel and coffee flavours. The taste of the soft base and the creamy frosting still makes me salivate. Such was the goodness. And if you are wondering what would be the packaging like, you don’t have to worry a thing. They are beautifully packed, taped on all sides so that the product remains intact.
My love for this bakery grew stronger, and every time I had to gift someone a cake or give my monster sweet tooth some relief, I would approach Nandita. Recently, I ordered a cute semi-fondant cake in chocolate caramel flavour for a very close friend. And the result exceeded my expectations. From the design to the taste, we loved it all.
Having said so much about them, I’m sure you must be wanting to know more about their venture, inspirations and the new products. Well, I’ve got them all covered. In a tête-à-tête, Nandita revealed to me how she left her job to start her venture and about her mother’s (co-founder and head chef) love for baking, the evolving scenario of home bakers, the new items on offer, and the plans that lie ahead.
1) When and why did you start Love is..Cakes? If I am not wrong, you were a working professional before becoming a full time baker.
That is correct. I was in fact an entertainment beat reporter and presenter before embarking on this delicious journey with my mother (and head chef) Vinita Mehta. There are many reasons why Love is..Cakes came into being. Mother’s boredom, a sense of listlessness after my marriage; and a general sense of dissatisfaction at my job would probably be the main motives. But it is also a fact that my mother has for three decades thrown parties and catered for official dinners where the food was always appreciated and spoken of. Constant shifting of base with her husband, an army officer, from the beginning … often to towns whose idea of confectionary was the same kind of cream on all cakes also compelled her to whip up gourmet cakes for her two stubborn kids (me and my brother). And of course we never asked for a regular cake hence, many a castles was built, many a trains assembled at a time when decorating supplies and ingredients were limited to home-whipped cream and gems. But they looked good, always looked good. And the food and cakes tasted great, always great. But mother never thought of it as anything other than a chore she did well.
2) Were you always interested in baking? Share with us your journey till now
Probably one of the fondest childhood memories for my brother and I were these little bowls of cake batter we would get when there was some baking taking place in the kitchen. Our mother would scrape the last few drops and drizzles into these two bowls, something to tide us over while we waited for the cakes to bake in those ancient ovens (at that time it was a long, long process). This was a weekly ritual … more than anything else that she would make it was cakes that were the most exciting for us. There is something so amazing about cutting into a home-baked cake, something so comforting about seeing cake next to a glass of milk then or a cup of coffee now … we all have a great cake story to tell.
While growing up, every year the most looked forward to part of our birthdays were the cakes we would choose months in advance … my mother had one solitary book on theme cakes for kids at that time (Australian Womens Weekly) … but for my brother and me it was the best book in the universe.
So, when we decided to branch into something of our own we knew it had to be something that was an extension of us … we (Vinita and Nandita) always knew it was going to be something related to food; our Punjabi genes are quite the dominant force. There was nothing new about becoming cake decorators; you see every third person was entering the field. But friends and family did express the need to bridge the gap between good-looking cakes and great-tasting cakes. And that’s what we thought we’ll make our motto; cakes that look great, taste even better or better yet taste homemade.
3) Of late, we have seen a lot home bakers are coming up with their ventures. What do you think about the evolving scene? How difficult is the competition?
Home baking has hit its peak. Every day there are new bakers joining the race and we think that’s a great thing. The competition is so intense that it keeps us on our toes. We are constantly innovating, launching new products and planning varied marketing strategies. So if you think about it, the competition has helped us move ahead. But at the end of the day it really boils down to your work. We have been in this for 3 years now. People know us not just by our name now but also our products. For instance, they know that for love jars one has to go to Love is..Cakes. This kind of brand recognition and the love we receive is what gives us hope that we will survive.
4) From cakes to cookies and pudding, you offer almost everything that requires for a person with sweet tooth. Name some of your signature products that are in great demand, and your personal favourites.
Love Jars, Love Jars and Love Jars … there are instances when people have called in to ask if we are speaking from love is..jars [Nandita giggles]. This hands down has to be our hottest selling product. We do them in 19 flavours (some of the flavours such as the French biscuit is unique only to us) and make these for everything from wedding flavours to bachelorette parties to baby showers to return gifts to daily sugar needs.
We have recently launched brownies and our take on a ‘nutties’ cake onto our menu and the initial reviews have been super so we are very excited about those as well.
5) Now that you have shifted to Gurgaon, do you take orders from Delhi and Noida?
Yes absolutely. We still deliver to all areas of south and west delhi and some areas in Noida. For other areas it depends on the size and contents of the order.
6) How is the customer feedback? Any special moments you would like to share.
Touchwood, from the moment it was thought of; Love is..Cakes has been the recipient of much love! Our review on all the major food portals and our Facebook page is stellar. We don’t advertise on any medium except social networking sites so the word-of-mouth publicity is what keeps us going.
There have been many special moments; we are humbled that 9 out of 10 times people take out time to send us a glowing review; in today’s busy world that matters.
The most heartening by far have been these ‘stopover’ orders we have taken on. A few times we have delivered orders right to the airport or inside the carriage of one of the trains at the railway station. The planning and timing has to be meticulous and what thrilled us was how these clients insisted that they just had to have a Love is..Cakes creation. It is both humbling and heartening.
7) Your future plans.
To make Love is..Cakes a feature on any one’s to-do Delhi list. We want it to read — 1. India Gate, 2. Red Fort etc. etc. … and may be sneak in somewhere close to no. 10. We want to be a part of everyone’s celebration, we want to grow … but not at the cost of authenticity and freshness. Our clients should always feel rest assured that their order is homemade, personalised and made with lots of mummy’s love
Now you know, I was not joking when I said this place offers something for everyone. I can only describe Love is..Cakes as dessert heaven and knowing every dessert I could possibly want is under that one roof, I will most definitely dial them again. I can already feel the magnetic pull of the love jars!
Pictures courtesy: Love is..Cakes Facebook page