Victoria sponges. Shortbread cookies. Chocolate chip brownies. The list goes on.
Whether enjoying these over a cuppa or celebrating someone’s birthday or wedding, these scrumptious and mouthwatering treats are perfect for every occasion. If only such wonderful homemade desserts were available in Cambridge. Well, they most certainly are and there are numerous options.
In recent years there has been a notable increase in the number of British Bangladeshi bakers across Cambridge, with some taking inspiration from TV presenter and chef Nadiya Hussain, who is also of British Bangladeshi origin. Instagram, a popular social media service, has certainly played a key role in promoting the creative talents and ventures of local home bakers such as Amaya’s Cakes, Bhabi’s Brownies, Dijah’s Delights, Maryam’s Cakes & Crumbs, RamisaMakesnBakes and SadiaBakes. Cambridge Rise reached out to these bakers, who kindly offered a fascinating insight into their baking exploits so far and how it all began for them.
Yasmin Ahmed, who launched Amaya’s Cakes, mentions that baking initially started off as a hobby before she began offering cakes to family and friends. “People kept telling me that I should do something and start selling cakes,” Yasmin explained. “I felt nervous at the beginning. I started off just making cakes for free and advertised them on Facebook through my page Amaya’s Cakes – a name I came up with last-minute! Then out of nowhere I started to receive orders.” Yasmin also mentions that “Instagram is a very popular platform” for presenting her baking portfolio, and has recently been thinking about her next steps going forward. “One-to-one classes are something I would really want to do once I have built up more confidence. I’d love to teach those who are particularly keen to bake in our local Bangladeshi and wider communities.”
Raisa Ahmed is a relatively new face to the Cambridge baking scene. “I’ll be honest, I hadn’t really baked anything before in my life,” Raisa admitted. “But brownies are a family favourite dessert, and I wanted to create the perfect gooey brownie just the way we like it!” After testing out lots of recipes and receiving positive feedback from family and friends, especially from her younger sister-in-laws, Raisa decided to branch out under the name of Bhabi’s Brownies. The term “Bhabi” or “Bhabhi” means “elder brother’s wife” or “sister-in-law” in Bengali. She has also been keen to experiment and is currently exploring new ideas for the future. “I would like to do brownie cakes, event/occasion platters and brownie lolly sticks. I’ve already figured out how to make dairy free brownies, so I’d also like to try doing vegan brownies as well because everyone deserves to enjoy the perfect gooey brownie!”
Khadijah Akhtar, the founder of Dijah’s Delights, reveals she has loved baking since childhood and continues to show enormous passion for what she produces. “I actually got into opening a business from family and friends pushing and encouraging me to showcase my talent,” Khadijah said. “Insha’Allah (God willing), I see myself continuing to provide this service and slowly expanding my business and maybe reaching out to more towns.”
Maryam Rashid of Maryam’s Cakes and Crumbs, also mentions she has enjoyed baking from a young age and sees it as an opportunity to show her creativity. “I’ve always been a creative individual. I did art and design for GCSE and A Level, so I’m always looking for ways to extend my creative flair,” Maryam said. “From a young age I’ve always admired baking, and recently I’ve been exploring different methods and techniques. In terms of the future, I’m not sure where the baking will take me as this is alongside my full-time career, but I’d love to be doing wedding cakes and larger functions of the like.”
Ramisa Miah is the youngest of the British Bangladeshi bakers to recently emerge in Cambridge through her new venture RamisaMakesnBakes. “I saw others doing it [baking] and making a business out of it, so I thought why not try myself?” said Ramisa, who also credits her mother and sisters for inspiring her to pursue baking as a hobby. She admits it is still early days with how far she wants to go with her baking and is currently preparing for her GCSE exams this year. “I honestly don’t know where I see myself going forward as baking is like a hobby instead of an actual business right now, but I’m just an average 15-year-old learning new skills everyday.”
Sadia Hussain, was one of the very first British Bangladeshi bakers in Cambridge, starting up SadiaBakes in 2014. “At the time there weren’t any other professional British Bangladeshi bakers in Cambridge so I decided to take up my hobby and start baking professionally,” Sadia recalled, and has also used her Instagram page to share her passion for cooking a variety of dishes from different cuisines. “Since childhood, I have always been inspired by my mum to cook. I also love to experiment with new recipes. I’m sure my followers can already tell that baking isn’t my only passion, but I also love cooking and eating. Insha’Allah (God willing), one day I can open my own little local café somewhere.”
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