In her own words ,
Hemangi: In my childhood, I would see everyone around me relishing cakes and pastries. However, I could not taste them as they were made with eggs and we were a pure vegetarian family. I was always curious and wondered if there would be a way to have eggless cakes. After getting married, I traveled abroad and came across a variety of baked products besides cakes. My childhood curiosity about eggless cakes and exposure to vast variety of baked products during my stay abroad led to a strong desire to venture into baking. But I couldn't join a professional training centre. In my quest to learn baking I used Google and baking guides to my advantage. My family became my testers and critical analysts. Experimentation led to failures, failures to learning and learning to perfection and perfection to progress.
Petpuja: Welcome to the blog Hemangi, our self taught baker guest of this fortnight! Your commitment to create egg less cakes as fluffy and tasty as cakes made with eggs is commendable. When did you thought of making your passion, your profession?
Hemangi: Baking gave me utmost happiness. It was my stress buster. With practice, my cakes were improving. I was able to standardise the recipes. The first appreciation and motivation came from family and then friends. Some of them had tasted my cakes and they ordered. As the orders increased, I thought of making it my profession. In short, my zeal and passion to learn about eggless cakes and desserts turned into my profession before I knew. 😄
Petpuja: Learning and improving upon a skill is always joyful. But when you come in the market to compete with others, there is always a fear of unacceptability. Did you felt it when you had taken that proverbial first step?
Hemangi: Yes. I was worried about competing with "cakes made with eggs". A major challenge was to match the quality without using eggs. Getting the same softness, texture, taste and price of normal cakes was a huge challenge. A lot of trial and error followed, but eventually the fears passed by.
Petpuja: That's wonderful. Your high spirits and capacity to face and win challenges have kept you going strong. Since you are based in Gujarat, where eggless bakeries are at every nook and corner , what is the unique selling feature of your products?
Hemangi: Consistency of sweetness and no feeling of heaviness in the stomach after eating my products, is my USP. The first bite is formality, the second one is always automatic.
Petpuja: With so much competition in the eggless cake sector, how do you keep your competitors at bay?
Hemangi: Quality has always been in the forefront. I put my heart and soul into the preparation. I do not deliver something unless I am completely satisfied about its perfectness. As an entrepreneur, I feel that quality and consistency are most important and that is what leads to success. There have been many failures, recipe gone wrong, proportions incorrect, incorrect temperature settings and so on, but the patience and positive attitude has kept me going forward in my journey. Money is important, but customer satisfaction is my top priority.
Petpuja: Over the years, how do you perceive the changes in the baking market?
Hemangi: Earlier, bakery items like cakes were consumed on a special occasion. Some baked products like muffins, bun, breads and loaf cakes were breakfast items which did not hold too much of nutritional value. Now, the focus of everything has changed to healthier and high quality products. I feel that bread, which was not part of the Indian breakfast earlier, has found its way after competing with the traditional items like idli, dosa poha etc and earned its place on the Indian breakfast table. The immediate focus is that bakery items have to match the quality and nutritional value of traditional foods.
Petpuja: What is your most celebrated and loved cake?
Hemangi: Nothing can beat my chocolate mud-cake.
Petpuja: What are your future plans?
Hemangi: I want to spread my product portfolio from cakes and muffins to homemade chocolates. I want to create a niche for myself and specialize in the area of high quality delicious cakes. My cakes are my speciality. Customer reviews are very positive and encouraging and I have mastered my skills in the last 12 years.
Petpuja: These days there are discussions on every medium about eating healthy foods. Baking usually involves lots of fats (oil, butter) and sugar. What's your take on making baking healthy?
Hemangi: I am aware of the demands of healthy bakery products and always explore healthy alternatives to come up with healthier, better and tastier bakery products. For example - In baking, with sweeteners I always use a combination of white and brown sugar together. I also use combination of butter and milk for rich and better taste.
Petpuja: That's really nice. It's sure way of reducing calories. Appreciations from clients always bring motivation to do better. With your kind of efforts , I am sure you must have received many appreciations. Some appreciations are etched in mind for ever. Would you like to share some memorable incident?
Hemangi: It's true. Appreciations from clients are highly motivating. I have been praised for my products times and again. I would like to share two incidents which are coming to my mind. A client ordered a surprise cake for her husband’s birthday. I got a call from her husband with the feedback that not only did he love it, but also his friends and relatives abroad were amazed when they saw the picture on social media. One of their guests is diabetic but he complimented that the sweetness was perfectly balanced. I would like to add another interesting feedback too. One of my customers once said, “Your cake are to be relished and enjoyed not only by seeing but also by feeling the wonderful taste and texture with eyes closed”.
Petpuja: Customers are very brash when they do not like a product. The critical feedbacks do hurt when you put your heart and soul in creating the product.How do you take such comments?
Hemangi: Critical comments are required and I see them as stepping stones to bettering my products. I take negative feedbacks very seriously and always work on them to improve the services of Bakeology. I give lots of importance to feedback. Even if I sell the 100th cake to you, I will call you the 100th time to take your feedback.
Petpuja: Since you are planning to expand, FSSAI is important. Have you taken FSSAI ?
Hemangi: I will be applying for it soon before escalating my enterprise to next level.
Petpuja: Do you get your products delivered in all parts of Ahmedabad or it's only pick up from your place?
Hemangi: As of now, I am growing business by serving a select few clients and friends. The plan to grow is definitely going on in my mind. In Ahmedabad , the clients come to my residence to pick up their cake. In future, I could consider further options for home delivery.
My cakes and muffins travel as far as 1000 km. Many a times, customers had come to pick up cakes and muffins at 5 am to carry them all the way across cities and states to their friends and relatives. As part of running a small scale business I have a tie up with a small coffee shop. I get up at 4 am in the morning, start the day with preparations for baking fresh and hot muffins which are delivered to the coffee shop by 8:30 am at breakfast time. I have been following this routine for the last 5 years. Though margins are low, it gives me immense satisfaction to provide a fulfilling breakfast to the customers who visits the coffee shop, most of which are college students who lives in hostel far away from their family.
Petpuja: How is your family supporting your enterprise?
Hemangi: My family is my biggest support. I do not deliver cakes without getting a “Wow” from them. I always take comments from my best friend and brother-in-law before delivering the cakes.
Petpuja: So what recipe are you going to share with our readers today?
Hemangi: I will share an easy to make recipe of Brownie Mug Cake (Serves 2 )
Maida / Flour 3 tbsp
Brown sugar 2 tbsp.
Milk powder 1.5 tbsp.
Cocoa Powder 2 tbsp.
Pink salt 1 pinch
Cooking soda ¼ tsp.
Instant coffee powder 1 tsp.
Milk ¼ cup (room temperature)
Butter melted/ ghee 3 tbsp.
Vanilla Essence ¼ tsp
Chocolate Chips 1 tbsp.
Sift the flour and cocoa powder 2 times. In a bowl add the Flour with cocoa powder, powdered sugar, milk powder, salt , cooking powder and coffee.
Add the butter/ghee and milk with essence and give it a nice stir with a whisker.
Pour the batter in mug, add the chocolate chips and microwave it for 45 seconds to 60 seconds.
Insert a toothpick to check if its done. If the toothpick comes out clean, it means the brownie mug cake is done.
Add a scoop of vanilla icecream and relish.
Petpuja: What is your message to women, who may be exploring home baking as a business?
Hemangi: Follow your passion and take the first step. The road is bumpy but don’t give up. If you are passionate about what you do, success is just round the corner. No business is simple. It is like bringing up an infant. It needs constant nurturing, monitoring, patience, perseverance and hard work.