Sugar…CANDY be thy name!

“I was never into baking” says CANDIDA RODRIGUEZ, founder and baker at SUGARBOWL. Considering the gorgeous goodies leaving her kitchen, i was completely surprised by this answer!

Destiny always finds a way i guess! Candida, born and raised in Cochin has got the best of both worlds from her artistically talented father and her mother who is an excellent cook!

Candida light heartedly shares with me how she was always a back bencher when it came to school with her teachers and principal wasting no opportunity to admonish her.
“They said i wouldn’t amount to anything but here i am” she laughs sportingly.

After graduating from Sacred Hearts College, she took a break for a year and that was when she found her passion in life and her world turned upside down.

She had reluctantly accompanied her sister in law for cooking classes. Chocolate making was the lesson for the day. That day, Candy fell in love with candy!

She started by taking chocolate orders from family and friends and fondly recalls her first ever chocolate order.
It was a 4 kg give away chocolates order for the baptism of her cousin’s baby. From then on, she started taking small  orders for chocolates.

Baking came into the picture down the road aftee Candy had attended a cupcake class with Rumana (of incrEDIBLE Art fame). The first ever cake she baked, continues to remain her all time favorite. It was a birthday cake for her grandmother. “A chocolate cake with pink rosettes. Everyone loved it! I live in a joint family and soon word spread amongst my relatives and i had orders pouring in from all my aunties.” she says.

Her entry into commercial sales were baby steps with a stall at a church function. 100 cupcakes were put up for sale and within 40 minutes, Candy was sold out! With word of mouth being the ultimate weapon, Candy’s decadent delights made way through town even eliciting orders from abroad! And thus a tiny spark of interest fanned into a fast growing business.

In 2013, Candy took a stab at an MBA in Bangalore but then came back to Cochin and baking because she realized that is where her heart and soul lay. Orders came flooding in and work started in full force. It was a major comeback.

Her business was flourishing in leaps and bounds and keeping professionalism in mind, Candy decided to attend a pastry chef course conducted by the prestigious Lavonne Academy of Baking and Science. ” Under the guidance of Chef Vinesh , Chef Sachin , Chef Manooshi , Chef Avin and Chef Joonie , Lavonne was an amazing period of my life and a wonderful learning experience it was” she shares.

Her venture waz christened Sugar Bowl in mid 2014 with an even stronger second come back. With a wider product range and fully developed arsenal of pastry skills, Candy and Sugar Bowl were all set to sweeten Cochin.
“Sugar Bowl is my baby. I nuture it with all the care and protection possible. It was initially difficult for mt parents to accept the fact that baking was to be my profession but after my newspaper appearance, things started to agree with them.”

Cochin as a market is saturated with home bakers and amongst the mediocre and the greats, Candy has a firm footing with umpteen customers. The secret lies in the taste of her cake. Candy’s cakes are just the right amount of sweet always which makes eating a slice or two always a treat! Aesthetically, she stands out with her masterful use of buttercream. She can replicate a  design made using fondant in buttercream with fondant accents and that she says has put her cakes on the map.

Apart from cakes, Candy dabbles in a variety of other sweet treats. Jams, cookies, breads, doughnuts and berliners to name a few. In terms of trying out unique and different cake flavours, Cochin has a long way to go but she has had an increasing clientele for her Kiwi, apple cinnamon and guava jams. In fact, these flavours are more in demand than the usual ones. She has an ardent fan following for her doughnuts and her berliners which come in fillings of custard, nutella, lemon curd and raspberry jam.

Laughing out loud she recalls a funny incident. Candy tells me that she is not a regular movie goer and so when one fine day, orders for the “PREMAM” movie cake started flowing in, she was in utter confusion. Finally, she watches the movie and finds out that it is a red velvet cake that was causing all the hoopla!

I watch as she digs into a brownie with custard. “I never eat my own cakes and desserts. Which is why i always wait to go to restaurants and cafes and satisfy my sweet tooth!” speaking of other cafes and restaurants, she nurses the ambition of opening, NOT a cake shop but a quaint little cafe.

We discuss a gorgeous dessert table she had put togther from scratch for hee best friend (somewhere during our conversation I decided to become her best friend as well!) Dessert tables are all a range today with one cropping up at every birthday, christening or wedding.

But unless it is tastefully done with simple yet stunning decorations and perfectly portioned tidbits, it might well be called a disaster table! Every decor item was hand made by Candy and she suggests keeping things simple, yet glamorous! Even the food displayed needs to suit the ocassion. The dessert table done by her was put together for a bridal shower.

So a naked cake, mini cupcakes and doughnuts with pretty toppers were chosen to be displayed. Candy also suggested dainty truffles, push pops and cookies as part of a dessert table. Of course a change of audience demands a completely different array of products. For a kids party, cake pops, chocolate bars and jellies take front seat.

Speaking of special ocassions, with my birthday just around the corner, Candy gifts me a beautifully packaged set of edible delights (i am a sucker for good packing and edible gifts!) 2 bottles of red velvet and cream cheese jar cakes, a bottle of apple and cinnamon jam, a whole bunch of oatmeal and raisin cookies and a pretty laser cut God full of home made fruit and nut dark chocolates! Yum!

The red velvet cake was super soft and the cream cheese frosting an absolute delight. It wasn’t terrifyingly sweet but mild and gentle like a lullaby. The jam was heaven! The teeny bites of apple paired with the snap of cinnamon infused using whole cinnamon sticks took my French toast to level ultimate!
The chocolates were compound and were quite nice. Candy had been lavish with the size and amount of nuts and raisins she’d put in. It was just the right feel of bite, crunch and chew.

And of course the best for last. Those amazing oatmeal and raisin cookies. Good lord they were a delight!! Chunky a

nd chewy, it made me close my eyes with every bite! The raisins added their pop of sweetness to a perfecty textured oatmeal cookie that was big size and flavour! Well done you!

With November 2016 marking the 4th year of her passion for baking, i ask Candy about her future plans. “I want to make wedding cakes and do edible gifts. I want to experiment and try new and different things. I definitely want to start painting on cakes using edible paint! That would be gorgeous!”

Three individual articles, three shared newspaper articles, one online interview and a big, bright future! Let’s raise our Oatmeal raisin cookies to a sugar goddess in the making! Cheers and crunch!

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