Growing up, my mom made all our birthday cakes. We never owned an oven until I was 10yrs old. Nevertheless, we always had cake for all our birthdays, baked using a jiko (charcoal stove) and a sufuria. (This is a tedious effort, not for the fainthearted). She also iced the cakes from scratch. We then had to pose for pictures with the homemade cakes.
Here’s me at age 10, with my new clothes. I was obviously lusting at that cake, hoping my brother and sister were jealous because it wasn’t their birthday. (p.s., my mother was also the photographer at all the functions, I guess I take after her on that as well)
She worked all day, came home in the evening made the cake, iced it, and got everything ready for the next day party we would have with cousins and neighbours. I don’t remember ever having a store bought cake until I graduated high school. It was a small pastry shop near our house, and I remember buying a slice of cake. It was excessively sweet compared to what we were used to.
And this is how my curiosity peaked.
My mother being a working woman was not going to tolerate my cake making experiments until I finally made a cake like hers considering I was a university student. (African parents with education is a no joke.)
I started off with cake mixes and as much as they were easy to make, they were too sweet and neither dad nor I could stomach them (we eat the least amount of sugar in our household).
So I went on to google, joyofbaking.com, Tumblr, Pinterest and any other avenue I could find a recipe. For a month or more, it was trial and error, loads of cakes ended up in the dustbin, wondering why my cream didn’t look like those in the bakeries all over town.
During the same period, one of my friend’s mom was baking as well. She introduced me to piping bags, nozzles, and deco stuff. But I was too shy to ask for all her secrets.
When my mom saw my commitment to pastry making, she decided it was time to go for baking classes. As for my dad, he was skeptical that this hobby would persist much longer (In all fairness, he had paid for my guitar and piano lessons a year before, and I was bored in less than three months of lessons). He, however, found a baking school, and that’s how my baking journey begun!!!! (Thank you, Dad).
In two months, I was done with classes, and had a stand at blankets and wine. The pressure was for 75 people, but my dearest mom and friends came with and we sold out.
I haven’t looked back ever since. There have been temptations to quit when the business slows down, but it would later pick up. A lot of great feedback is what has pushed me on. It has been almost four years now, and I couldn’t have done it without my family.