Wunderkind To Watch Out For: Self-Taught Baker And Ace Blogger Shivesh Bhatia
Life is short. Eat dessert first.” This pretty accurately describes what many of us have lived by for most of our lives. It especially rings true in a world where it’s almost impossible to scroll through an Instagram feed without double tapping a photograph of some new droolworthy confectionary masterpiece. Last year, the BBC Good Food Nation Survey found that 40 per cent of millennials post photos of their food on social media…but it didn’t stop there. Bigwigs in the hospitality industry got on board, too, with rainbow bagels, ‘freak shakes’, black ice cream; the works. Today, all this has been flawlessly translated into a widespread, universal food culture — from intricate suppers to elaborately themed cocktail gatherings, the entertaining forecast has never looked sweeter.
But while there may still be a charm about a formal party where everyone and everything is dressed to the nines, for 2017, nostalgia is in. Think grandma’s kitchen: heartwarming cakes, rustic plating, abundant icing and seasonal toppings. And if you’re looking to refine your baking and food styling abilities, there’s no better time to be online! Inspiration is only a click away, and bloggers have become experts at virtually taking us through the processes of making Pinterest-worthy treats. One such prodigy is Shivesh Bhatia, the self-taught baker behind the increasingly popular blog, Bake With Shivesh, and an inspiration to many young food entrepreneurs. We at Verve often find ourselves poring through his exquisite photographs — which he styles and shoots himself — so it’s a treat to have the 21-year-old whip up a special dessert table for us. On the menu — a definite inspiration for our next get-together — is vanilla cake with dark chocolate ganache and cherries, blueberry-apricot cake with cream cheese frosting and a layered chocolate dessert with lychees. A delicious theme stands out: is stone fruit the sweet trend of the season? “I absolutely love them,” Bhatia agrees. “I always try to make the most of seasonal fruit, so yes, I’ve lately been baking a lot with peaches, plums, apricots and cherries…and I can’t get enough.”
Despite being one of the youngest members of the food blogging community, the Delhi-based pastry pro is experienced yet always improving. His passion came from his grandmother, who he credits for the start of his journey. “She used to make the best chocolate cakes. Unfortunately in 2011, she had a paralytic attack after which she couldn’t be in the kitchen. So one day, all the cousins were talking about how much we miss her cake, and decided to get premixes and readymade frosting to make cupcakes.” The treats may not have turned out as planned, but the process ignited a spark that has spurred him on ever since. Once his Instagram followers encouraged him to start his recipe website, there was no looking back. It turned into more than just a hobby when brands started approaching him for campaigns. “I had never imagined that someone would offer to pay me to bake and take pictures. It made me realise the potential that this space has.” Bhatia now collaborates regularly with brands like Del Monte, HP and KitchenAid.
Given that he was studying political science at Hindu College, Delhi University right until May this year, it was a task for him to juggle both college and blogging. Once Bhatia graduated, he’s been on the move as much as possible. “I travelled to Bali and Eastern Europe in June, I’m spending most of July in Mumbai interning at one of the best patisseries, and then started travelling again in the last week of the month. So right now, every day is different and I love it like that. The plan is to learn more and take French lessons before I go off to pastry school next year!”
First baking win “I remember being ecstatic when I managed to make decent eclairs. Before that I had tried and failed four times!”
Ingredients you’d want on a deserted island “Raspberries, vanilla pods and dark chocolate. If I could, I’d also love to take lemons.”
A food trend that bothers you “The entire nitrogen craze is absolutely unnecessary. I think it’s more dangerous and pretentious than fancy.”
Hot tip for taking food photos “Practise, experiment, never stop.”
Favourite equipment “My spatula — it’s a Martha Stewart spatula that I love. I think a kitchen torch is really cool, too.”
Blueberry Apricot Cake
All-purpose flour (maida), 2 cups; Baking powder, 4 tsp; Lemon zest, 1 tbsp; Castor sugar, 1 ½ cups; Softened butter, 1 cup; Eggs, 4; Fresh lemon juice, 1 tbsp; Milk, ¼ cup; Blueberries and diced apricots, ¼ cup; Cream cheese frosting, as per taste.
Lightly brush a 9-inch cake pan with oil or butter and dust with flour. Line it with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. In a bowl, combine flour, lemon zest and baking powder. Whisk until well combined. In a larger bowl, beat sugar and butter, until the mixture becomes fluffy, for approximately 5 to 7 minutes. Add lemon juice. Add eggs, one by one, mixing well after each addition.
Now add the dry mixture to the wet mixture in three batches, alternating with milk. Do not overmix. Using a spatula, fold in the blueberries and apricots. Pour the batter into the cake pan. Bake at 180 degrees Celsius until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. This will take about 30 to 40 minutes. Once the cake is completely cooled, cover with cream cheese frosting.
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