Ode To Abu

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Baker Brigade - Shivangi Daga

Shivangi Daga was born and brought up in a Marwari family based in Calcutta. She got married within a year of completing B.A. in psychology, literature and mass communications from Bangalore and moved to Chennai in 2005. She is comfortable with a line of work that allows her the flexibility to work from home and use her time effectively. A home-based baking enterprise seemed the perfect route to traverse, given current trends.

Chocolate Fudge Brownies drizzled with Chocolate Syrup

On baking

“I have enjoyed baking since my teens. Trying out new recipes on my friends and family and receiving both bouquets and brickbats from them helped me constantly improve my baking skills. After marriage I got busy with my new home and soon even busier taking care of my 2 daughters. Baking was on the backburner for a while except for my daughter’s birthdays or special occasions. It was just by chance that I happened to bake a large number of cupcakes for a friends’ Lil’ Miss Cupcake theme party.”

Baby Shower Cupcakes

That was Shivangi’s first attempt at baking on a big scale and it helped build her confidence. She continues: “I’m learning new things everyday and adding more value for my customers.” She says she uses all natural ingredients (“no synthetic cake gels or margarine for me please”).

Strawberry & Chocolate Cake

Fairly active on food-related groups on FB, her baking frenzy has seen a recent spurt in the past 6 months. She will be part of the Baker Showcase Edition 3 for the very first time. She calls herself a ‘chocoholic’ who breathes, dreams, reads (recipes) and of course eats--chocolate. Of late, she’s been getting quite a few orders for chocolate bouquets. Ask if she prefers making chocs to baking cakes and she says: “Chocolates are more lucrative so if the chocolate gifting business can fund my baking venture, that would be super!” According to her, chocolate making is a no-brainer, one can easily make 90 kgs and store it for a week for example, which is unthinkable when it comes to baked goodies. While making chocs, it is easier to make bulk quantities as it is more of a mechanical process. Baking, on the other hand, requires plenty of creative effort, planning, balancing the right measurements and much more.

Mushroom Olive & Zucchini Onion Mini Pizzas

Shivangi smilingly counters my views on cupcake fatigue having set in from a customer's perspective. Referring to my mildly controversial post on cupcakes  ;-), she says she believes that cupcakes are here to stay. Kids continue to be fascinated with them and hence it will always remain a birthday party favourite. Coming from a cupcake bouquet creator, I shall take her word for it! :-) She receives more orders for cupcake bouquets (which are more expensive) that are used for gifting, vis-à-vis orders for a box of a dozen cupcakes. Bouquets seem to make a gifting statement these days, be they of chocolates or cupcakes! (Think I need to interview a florist next to ascertain the impact of this new fad on the flower business!)

Cupcake Bouquet


Shivangi’s discovery of HBG coincided with her baking experiments. It was also the same period of time that she was captivated by the book ‘The Secret’ by author Rhonda Byrne. She believes that reading up on the Law of Attraction and her increasing fascination for baking around the same time ensured that things were looking up and falling into place in her life. “It's a good feeling,” she says. For her, the HBG forum is a space for great learning and growth filled with useful baking tips, advice and recipes. Being part of the Baker Showcase is an opportunity for her to meet new people (other bakers and potential customers), and a platform that will help provide the requisite exposure and publicity for her home-based venture called ‘Sweet Nothings by Shivangi Daga’. She proclaims, “The Showcase will tell people I exist!”

Fun Facts

Easiest dessert to make – Layered Icecream Cake as this does not require smoothening of edges and can be made in any dish. Her fave recipe for this is a mix of biscotti, brownies, vanilla icecream and three layers of chocolate sauce. (I’ve just had a brain freeze and need a break to make a trip to my fridge. I return disappointed and make a mental note to get my hands on this…and sooooooooon!)

Toughest dessert to make – Choco Lava Cake

Fave dessert – Brownies

Family’s fave dish made by her – Burmese Khow Suey

Fave kitchen gadget – Spatula

Fave ingredient – Chocolate - for its versatility in being melted, moulded, cooked and baked!

Fitness mantra – Gymming and Yoga

Fellow Showcase participant’s goodies she would most like to try - Divya Ninan-Eapen's Tiramisu

Salted Caramel Tarts (I call them her Spiderman Tarts!)

Shivangi has termed herself the ‘most anxious baker’ since her table is sandwiched between two of the most experienced stalls at the Baker Showcase. One is the team to reckon with – a group of not one, not two, but THREE experienced cooking and baking experts cleverly titled ‘The Soul Food Sisters’ - comprising of Sara Koshy, Tasneem Ayub and Girija Menon. The other table will be ‘womanned’ by Nanditha Sashidharan -  co-founder of HBG and owner of The Sugar Hut!

Shivangi keeps her chin up with a positive attitude and states: “I am hell-bent on swimming across the channel rather than drowning in between!” I saluted her spirit and assured her that being right in the middle of the best was sure to be advantageous. My opinion is that she would be noticed and their luck would definitely rub off on her. She responded by saying, “Aapke moonh mein ghee shakkar!” The typical response when one wishes for the best to happen. Given the context however, we agreed that ‘ghee shakkar’ ought to be replaced by ‘chocolate ganache’!!

Chocolate Cupcakes

The Baker Showcase is garnering much attention this week with articles in dailies such as The Hindu, Indian Express, Deccan Chronicle et al. Shivangi is thrilled that the pic of her salted caramel tart was used in one of them. 

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

Showcase Specials
  • Red Velvet Chocolate Whoopie Pies
  • Nutella Brownies (Hazelnut & Chocolate Combo)
  • Salted Caramel Tarts
  • Peppermint Patties
  • Crispy Sesame Studded Lavash with Burnt Garlic Hummus (a Lebanese dip)
  • Buttery Garlic Rolls (usually called pull-apart rolls but in this case, already pulled-apart rolls! ;-))
  • Nolen Gur Sandesh - a Calcutta special sweet dish, baked with cottage cheese & jaggery topped with fried crispies and icing sugar, and set in a shot glass
Garlic Rolls

The FB Baker Showcase event page is grabbing eyeballs from participating and even non-participating bakers. Shivangi jokes that whatever she makes from selling her goodies would go towards buying stuff from the other bakers' tables! She seems to echo every baker's sentiments! :-)

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