GT talks to Pakistan’s best cake artists

Special occasions and events are steadily gaining popularity: Valentine’s Day, baby showers, mother’s and father’s days and many more. They bring us closer to our loved ones by making us make the time from our busy lifestyles. And cakes have carved out an exquisitely sweet place in this social framework. Novelty cakes, personalized with intimate symbolism, now make their appearance at a growing number of events. And so we bring to you the identities behind some of Pakistan’s best novelty cakes!


The Mad Chef



“Food has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. My grandfather was an incredible baker and chef, so the culinary arts have always been an integral part of my life. I believe that novelty cake bakers are not just cake decorators or cake designers, but artists. Our cakes are not your usual cakes, neither are they mass produced. The Mad Chef is run by my sister Naira and me. Naira is studying fine arts and is a little genius with her paintbrush. While I bake, frost, create sculptures, sugar-crafted figurines and flowers, my sister paints ridiculously mad portraits. The Mad Chef depicts our intense passion for food. Our energy comes from the way we create recipes, how we research, and the way we experiment with flavors, textures and techniques and, lastly, how we enjoy our food without a care in the world. The key to success is innovation and not to Google designs and copy them but to be fascinated and inspired by nature around you. It can be the smoke coming out of a hot teapot or a curled dry leaf crunching under your feet.”

— Saba Sharjeal

The Floofies


The-Floofies-(1)_resize“I remember my mother made a cake shaped like a cat for one of my birthdays when I was a kid. That stuck with me. I would ask her to make the same thing over and over on each birthday until I’d gotten too old to have cakes shaped like animals. I’ve always loved cartoons and that, at least, hasn’t changed over the years. At college, I majored in illustration, so one day, I saw my mother baking and told her I wanted to draw on one of the cakes. It started off as a joke, but then we started experimenting with materials and kept at it until we finally got it right. We never planned on starting a company, but we knew that we had something, her being the baker and me being the artist. That’s how it started and we never looked back.

“That’s the funny thing about doing something
you love: If you fail, you’ll find another way to make it wor

There have been loads of times when people would question if this career path was ideal for me, and what if I failed at it. That’s the funny thing about doing something that you love, that you’re passionate about: If you fail, you’ll find another way to make it work. You’ll keep trying until you get it right.”

— Reham Sani

Cakes Matter


moi_resizeCakes Matter was conceived as a home-based confectionery offering exquisitely crafted and uniquely-designed cakes and patisserie for an exclusive clientele. It happened more by coincidence than by design. Though I have always had a deep inclination towards baking and sculpting, I never imagined making a career out of it. I would make cakes for friends and family and received quite unexpected adulation. I once made a cake for a friend’s birthday and later, got my first ever order from her brother and his friends. Thereon started my love affair with cake art! The name “Cakes Matter” underscores the importance of making an occasion memorable with an artistically produced and symbolic cake.

“I was selected as one of four finalists to compete in the biggest cake show in Europe”

Of all the mediums I have worked with — acrylic paints, fabric paints, charcoal pencils, crayons, modelling clay — food colors and gum paste are what I find to be the most fascinating. Creating an edible teddy bear out of a ball of gum paste and enlivening a cupcake with it is an experience in itself. Cake decorating is a brilliant field. It’s innovative, it’s rewarding and unlike other jobs, it hardly ever gets monotonous!

My best memory relating to cake artistry was when I got selected as one of the four finalists globally to compete at the Live Cake Decoration competition at Cake International UK, the biggest cake show in Europe. I secured a second position in the PME Cupcake Challenge and was a Runner up in the PME Cake Decorator of the Year Challenge. I also participated in the International Category at Cake International and made a cake depicting Pakistan’s Rural Life. This event exposed me to the magical world of sugar craft. I brought back home not just a trophy but also tremendous inspiration for advancing my craft. Locally, I took part in the Cake Off at the DHA Food Festival this year and secured First position in the Best Cake Art Category. My cake represented Lahore and all that I love about this city.”

—Zara Abbas

Le Reve


Le-Reve-(4)_resize“My interest in designing cakes was honed and supported by the confectionary classes I took in the Middle East. My penchant for cooking as well as my background in arts and crafts took care of the aesthetics side. There’s much to say about the art and inner workings of designer confectioners. As any dedicated craftsman would, we must maintain a degree of beauty and elegance in the designs we make. Personally speaking, it’s a dedication to perfection which has allowed me to be able to make my novelty cakes. I take out hours every day for months on end to test and refine flavors, colours and overall designs. And that’s something that never really ends! I still look at past designs and think to myself: a different shade of red would look so much better on that rose cake, and then I begin working on creating that new shade. It would be a disservice to my customers as well as to what I’ve built, if there was any one day in my professional life where I settled for something less than the best.

“I still look at past designs and think to myself: a different shade of red would look so much better on that rose cake”

Another thing I pride myself on is understand what people want. Every single cake of mine is the result of my own personal passion for the craft intertwined with the specifics put forth by my customers. And on that note, I’ve been very fortunate to have an amazing fan base. 2015 is gearing up to be a busy year. I’ll be starting my own version of culinary classes!”

— Leena Waseem


Absolutely Caked


“Absolutely Caked ? my sister’s play on absolutely baked, is exactly that: mad, creative, and high on beautiful cakes. It began from a need to bake a greater variety of creative flavor combinations, and to learn how to handle fondant for my son’s 6th birthday cake. I was battling a Captain America carved cake but was frustrated by the limitations of fondant — too much carving and sculpting — plus, everyone was doing it. Then it all came together, my Fine Arts degree and my love for baking and all things beautiful: I would paint on fondant. It was the perfect white canvas. I could paint anything. Thats how Absolutely Caked’s signature hand-painted cakes began. Painting a cake turned it into a work of art. What I love about each cake is the collaboration with the client. Their cake tells a story, be it about the first flowers a husband gave his wife, or a porcelain collection originating from Russia that made its way to Pakistan with Afghan refugees after the Russian Revolution. Even the flavors are inspired by memories, Old School Twist plays with the memory of the traditional caramel fudge sold in our school canteen; The Gardens of Qurtuba cake has layers of orange cake covered with a rich chocolate ganache in memory of a walk through the gardens of the old mosque in Cordoba.

Similarly, Absolutely Caked also specializes in gum paste flowers. Gum paste defies the sensible. It needs obsession and time, lots of it. It needs patience and a gentle hand. It needs you to want beauty. It hides in tissues and boxes, fragile and delicate, only to grace a cake for a few hours. I know that within minutes perhaps it will perish. But I find something poetic in that. The flower brought beauty to someone’s celebration. It exists in memory and in photos. My motto: make the world beautiful one cake at a time.”

—Zairah Maher

PepperLime & SugarPlum


IMG_3013_resize“This is my art, my mode of expression, and how I channel my creativity. I am happiest when I am given carte blanche with the design, and my clients and I are on the same page. I like to work with color, scale and balance. I am addicted to the instant gratification that this kind of work can bring, and that is what keeps me going despite the crazy hours and back breaking labor that goes into making customized cakes. One of the best things about being in this field is that one constantly evolves. There are so many new things to learn and ways to experiment. There is no time to get bored.

I see new bakers in this field whose work is truly inspired, and you can see their hard work in their creations. I think any time your work is driven by passion, it is apparent in what you create. At least, that is what keeps me going.”

—Saira Faruqi


Funky Bake


Funky-Bake-(12)_resize“It all started in 2009 when I saw a picture of a nicely decorated cupcake online. None of what happened next was easy by any stretch, but it pays off now every day. Passion is a force that unleashes boundless creativity, and if you’re passionate about something, you’re more willing to take risks and that is exactly what my passion for baking has enabled me to do.

“My husband helps with the mixes and frostings while my elder son is an amazing 3D artist”

My husband has been my greatest support and mentor. It’s now a family-run show as my husband helps with the mixes and frostings while my elder son is an amazing 3D artist. My little one loves to create miniature versions of everything I create.

I also train women ranging from ages 12 to 60 who have a desire to learn the skill of baking and decorating. Having been baking since the age of 9 and loving it still has helped tremendously to stay focused. Nothing is more satisfying than a smile on a toddler’s face when he rushes into my little heaven and gets the cupcake of his choice.”

—Amber Qazi

Good Times


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