For 17-year-old Nysa Adurkar, baking started as an activity that she enjoyed doing with her friends. “We used to enthusiastically make small desserts using cake mixes to sell in our building each day. The first thing I baked by myself was a simple vanilla cake, messily frosted with buttercream. I had tried to write on my cake — something I have not yet perfected — and ended up with a lopsided ‘Bon Voyage’, reminiscent of the cake Hagrid gave Harry Potter on his birthday,” she told Express Parenting recently.
Adurkar has been baking for some years now. The teenager recently came out with her own book titled ‘Whip and Whisk‘ — an assortment of 65+ recipes across desserts and cakes, personalised to her experience. She talked to this outlet about the experience of writing the book, falling in love with baking at such a young age, and the encouragement she received from her parents, among other things.
What made you fall in love with baking at such a young age?
At first, baking was a method to truly get my hand dirty in the kitchen and play with different ingredients to create new desserts. Even at a young age, baking was therapeutic and I was able to explore my creativity in ways I had never experienced, like creating cookies shaped like dentures. Each time I decided to bake, my curious mind was stimulated through the new techniques I was observing and trying to perfect, or attempting to replicate desserts I had seen around me.
What was the idea behind writing a book?
When I had started baking, I was in awe of the desserts and cakes I had seen in birthday celebrations or at restaurants. Wanting to recreate them, I initially took to the internet, but I was overwhelmed by the complicated steps and inaccessible ingredients. Over the years, I developed recipes and decoration styles that were simpler and showcased the ease with which one can take up baking. I wanted to share these recipes to help teach others how to make complex desserts and cakes in a simple manner, taking the process one step at a time. After I published my book, I felt truly accomplished that I was able to help even a small number of budding bakers. It is gratifying to know there are others who share my passion.
Tell us about some of your personal favourite recipes from the book.
One of my favourite recipes is the churro shots. While this recipe takes a little more preparation, I was able to stretch my imagination and create a dessert that has the perfect balance of textures and flavours from each component. To me, this dessert is almost like an experience, taking a sip of the thick chocolate milkshake and then biting into the cinnamon encrusted churro. It’s almost like a childhood dream of having utensils made out of desserts! Another one of my favourite recipes are the graveyard brownies. I played with different ingredients I had at home like shortbread cookies to make the gravestone, and the trimmings of the brownie to make the dirt. This recipe is so versatile you can add any spooky decorations to complement this Halloween dessert.
Are you a self-taught baker? Does anyone else in your family bake?
Through the years, I have learnt baking by trying new recipes by myself and learning techniques by observing other bakers on social media, since no one in my family bakes. Even though my desserts were unsuccessful most of the time, I always tried to remake them, making small tweaks based on the research I conducted.
Did you have help from your parents while curating recipes for your book?
For each dessert I created, I always asked my parents for feedback. They have always encouraged me and this pushed me to never hesitate in the kitchen. Even if I was unsure of a flavour combination, they were always willing to try these new desserts and help me identify what I could improve further.
What kind of challenges did you face?
While creating new recipes, there were numerous occasions when my recipes did not turn out the way I expected, like less sugar in a brownie or a curdled cheesecake, which often disrupted the schedule I had created to balance my school work and recipe development. I always tried not to be demotivated. Finding substitutes for many ingredients that I could not find in the local supermarket was also a challenge where I had to think creatively and come up with possible alternatives in traditional desserts.
What else do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I truly enjoy reading, especially murder mysteries. Recently, I have been reading the Girl on the Train and the Dan Brown series. I have also discovered my love for the marine world through diving. Each dive is breathtaking and I have been inspired to conserve this delicate ecosystem in any way I can.
What next for you?
Many consider baking to be a relatively inaccessible hobby. I want to break this misconception. I am currently working on a special project to democratise baking and allow everyone to enjoy this hobby, which should be launched soon. I would also like to spread my initiative ‘Joys of Baking’ where I bake free customised cakes for underprivileged children on a larger platform, perhaps while collaborating with other bakers as well.