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Cupcake genius at 20 reveals he bakes as a stress buster
Payel Majumdar  9th May 2015

While mothers baking cookies for their children is an American dream that has become universal now, do children bake for their mothers as well? If you are Shivesh Bhatia, all of 20, you do so every day. Bhatia is a Delhi University student who chanced upon the joy of baking, when he discovered Linda Lomelino, an eminent food blogger, stylist and baker about three years ago while still in school.

"I stumbled upon Linda Lomelino's website Call-Me-Cupcake and was mesmerised by it. Looking at the pretty pictures and delicious recipes that populate her page, I decided that I wanted to start baking as well," says Bhatia.

His first cupcake experiment was with his cousin, where he tells us that he put Betty Crocker cake mix to good use. "I have continued baking since then. My favourite recipe has to be my vanilla poppy-seed cake, with raspberry filling and meringue frosting, which I decorated with meringue kisses and white chocolate barks. It takes a lot of time to make, but it is totally worth it."

Bhatia calls himself a self-taught baker. He often picks up recipes from his hero Limelino's page, and improvises upon them. While his mother used to bake at home, he never took it up earlier. His family is very supportive of his love for baking. "My mom used to bake and I never used to learn from her, but now that I bake almost every day, she has given up baking." What happens to all that cake that he bakes every day? Shivesh tells us that finishing cakes at the Bhatias' is never a problem, since they are a family of 12, and he has a group of friends in college who are eager to participate in that part of his experiments all the time. "My friends are interested in eating, but when they get to know what they are going to get to eat, they help me with the baking as well." He tells us that even though he has a sweet tooth, he has started eating less stuff that he makes since he cannot eat what he makes every day. We do agree. He cannot resist lemon tarts however, which are his favourite dessert. Bhatia was one of the finalists in Kitchen Aid's Pro Baker competition that got him a lot of attention on social media.

Bhatia doesn't know whether he is going to take up baking as a profession yet, even though he is regular with his recipes on the blog and has a large number of followers on Instagram (50,000 to be precise.)

Echoing every teenager's words, Bhatia says, "I'm doing my graduation in Political Science from Hindu college, and I have no plans after that. I don't know what I want to do after this. I haven't thought of taking up baking as a profession. Since I like it so much, why not? So I'm considering it, but I have no concrete plans as of now." He tells us that he has done bake sales in different places before, the most recent one being his college fest. "I do not bake with an ultimate goal in my head. It is basically for fun." He prefers baking alone, to relax, unless he is up for an event such as a bake sale or a party. Bhtia says, "Sometimes, when I know I cannot handle everything on my own, I get together with my friends who help me out. My parents are usually supportive, although my mum gets irritated about my baking for I leave the kitchen in a mess. I have a sister as well, but she isn't interested in baking at all," he cheekily adds.

As for Instagram, he did not expect to become a mini-celebrity when he started out, but he is happy with the good response. Apparently, there are a lot of takers for young boys baking beautiful cupcakes out there. Bhatia's favourite ingredient to work with is strawberry. We ask him why, and he says rather glibly, "They are so bright and summery and colourful." Is baking really tough? Not if one follows the golden rules, according to Bhatia. "I enjoy baking the most when I'm relaxed and I actually want to bake. A common mistake made by most people is that they usually mix vigorously when they are combining the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients. It is something even I used to do, but it results in a very heavy dense cake. In order to get a light and fluffy cake, it is important to mix until well combined."

 

 

Shivesh's recipe Vanilla Poppy-Seed Cake:

 

Ingredients

All purpose flour 2 cups

Baking powder 4 tsp

Salt a pinch 

Oil 1 cup

Sugar 1 cup

Eggs 4

Pure vanilla extract 2 tsp

Buttermilk 1 cup1/4 cup

Poppy seeds

 

FOR RASPBERRY FILLING

 Frozen raspberries 250g

Cornstarch 1 tbsp 

Lemon juice 2 tbsp

Sugar 1/4 cup

 

FOR THE MERINGUE FROSTING and MERINGUE KISSES

 Egg whites 4

Castor sugar 2 cups

Cold water 1/4 cup

 

FOR WHITE CHOCOLATE BARKS

 White cooking chocolate 1 cup

Red food colouring

Wheat flakes

Frozen raspberry bits

 

Method

Pre- heat the oven to 170° C. Grease the tins. In a  medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, salt and poppy seeds. In a large bowl, beat oil and sugar until light and fluffy using an electric mixer. With mixer on low, beat in eggs one at a time. Beat in the vanilla. Alternately, beat in the flour mixture and buttermilk beginning and ending with flour mixture. Carefully fold in the flour mixture. Divide the batter between two tins of the same size. Smooth top using a spatula. Bake for about 30-32 minutes and cool completely. In a small sauce pan, combined all the ingredients and slowly bring to a boil. Keep stirring, until thickened. Let cool completely before spreading onto cake. Whisk egg whites, sugar and cold water in a large heat-proof bowl. Place the bowl over saucepan of simmering water, creating a double boiler. Using an electric mixer, beat egg white mixture for 15 minutes or until stiff peaks form. Remove the bowl from heat. After the frosting has cooled completely, add red food colouring to 1/4th of the frosting. Put it in a piping bag and pipe your meringues of a baking tray lined with baking sheet. Bake for 5 minutes in a 100°C oven. Let them rest in the oven for 15 minutes. Melt chocolate on a double boiler.  While the chocolate is still hot, pour it on a tray lined with parchment paper. Make red swirls using a toothpick dipped in red food colouring Sprinkle with wheat flakes and frozen raspberry bits. Let it cool in the fridge. After the cakes have cooled completely, divide each layer into two so that you have four layers Fill each layer with your cooled raspberry filling  After frosting your cake, decorate with meringue kisses and white chocolate barks

 
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