It’s amazing how entrepreneurs sometimes choose names the most perfect names for their ventures. INDULGENCE by SHAZNEEN AFSHAR is a prime example. As sweet as her desserts, I can say without a doubt that Shazneen is an immensely talented star baker!
“I come from a family that loves food! In fact they are ones who encouraged me to take up baking as a profession. I think I started baking since childhood and there has been no looking back” says Shazneen.
Indulgence took root to acknowledge one simple thought; to add a piece of celebration to every single day. From elaborate, rich cakes and decadent brownies to beautiful light, airy bundts and savory rolls, Shanzeen has ensured that her menu of delights has something for everyone. She loves French pastry and fondly remembers the first set of profiteroles she made when she was in her 12th grade. Though she enjoys baking fondant cakes, Shazneen loves the rustic finish and intense flavours she is able to produce with buttercream based cakes.
When asked about how she stands apart from other bakers in Cochin, Shazneen had this to say “I think every baker in Cochin has their own baking styles and they cannot be compared. Everyone is comfortable in their space. Cochin is a city with a lot of scope and there are a lot of reasons to celebrate and that is where Indulgence comes in!”
According to Shazneen, the market for fondant cakes has come down and customers have broadened their horizons to experimenting with different types of cakes and flavours. Infact, Shazneen has even baked an unnakaya flavoured cake based on request. “Dessert tables are still very in and I have tied up with Nicole by Diane to set up dessert tables for some of their programs. I collect a lot of vintage props and since I love making rustic cakes, I use them all while setting up my dessert tables.”
Baking has always been a form of stress release and baking from home gives Shazneen the freedom to enjoy the company of her three children. Apart from her usual orders, Indulgence hosts weekly sales at the flat; which almost always sells out in a matter of minutes.
The best and most beautiful cake Shazneen has baked is her chandelier cake; an absolute stunner! “I love experimenting with flavours and techniques. Taking up a new challenge is a lot of fun! I love making Arabic sweets, biscuits, brownies and breads. I ensure that I use raw materials of only the best quality. I use Callebaut chocolate and I get my Kunafa dough and Baklava sheets from abroad. My latest experiments are with a Russian Honey Caramel cake, Lotus biscoff flavoured cake.”
Crunch is a major element in all of Shazneen’s cakes and most of her treats carry that signature touch in the form of nuts, praline, cookies and others. The response for her goodies has been immense! “Wedding cakes are what I get most orders for. I have had some constructive feedback from some customers and that has helped me improve my work. I enjoy hosting classes in fondant, buttercream, tarts and quiches. With a big smile she adds “My dad is my biggest critique! In fact he keeps sending me links and pictures of new cake techniques and baking trends. My husband has also been extremely supportive and gives me my space and time to work. This is support has been so beneficial to my growth.”
In the near future, Shazneen plans to open a small patisserie with some of her best desserts on sale. With a flourish she hands me boxes chockfull of dulce de leches brownies, an orange blossom bundt cake (which is a personal favorite of mine), slices of honey caramel cake and double chocolate chunk cookies. Needless to say, it was Indulgence at its best!
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