Bingeing on Great British Bake Off and spotting Sari Cakes‘ multi-tiered, heavenly henna-inspired cakes at a recent food fair caused me to ponder a crucial question: is I were to eat a treat, would I rather munch on mithai or a Brit-style bake? The conclusion was clear. When it comes to desserts, I can’t declare East or West to be the best.
Although clever clashing of diverse culinary cultures requires a canny hand, the real sweet spot lies where those worlds collide. Next time you can’t pick between a laddoo or a lamington, chikki or chocolate fudge cake, a burfi or a brownie, check out these brilliant bakers and their cakes and choose to fuse.
Chintal has an especially winning way with cakes and bakes, adding myriad and irresistible Indian accents to many of her highly original creations. So warm was the reception for her recipes that this aspiring entrepreneur now offers an ordering service for a capsule cake collection perhaps best described as ‘the seven wonders of the fusion baking world’. For a spot of decadent DIY, try you hand at Chintal’s Kesar Milk Masala & Coffee Cake, which makes great use of Holy Lama’s superb Spice Drops.
Coffee and walnut cake is a perennial British teatime favourite, but primetime telly star Chetna obviously felt that classic would benefit from a sprinkle of spice. Showing the same flair for flavour as she demonstrated on 2014’s Great British Bake Off, this fully-loaded layer cake swaps hazels for the more typical walnuts and adds a tasty twist with a whisper of cardamom. The curly, whirly chocolate swirls that crown this cake are noted as optional extras but, in the spirit of excess, entirely compulsory in my eyes.
A year after creating her chai-spiced cupcakes, baking blogger Stefani wanted to be inspired by India anew. This time, though, she wanted to go further than flavour, and incorporate an authentic subcontinental sweetmeat. So Stefani started with a little something from Bong Mom’s Cookbook, adding spice to Sandeepa’s Mukherjee Datta’s Bengali steamed sandesh recipe. The icing on the cake? She topped these cheesecake-like treats with a hearty helping of divine mango whipped cream frosting.
Regular readers will know only too well that I can’t get enough of KO Rasoi’s creations. Sanjana is the girl who brought the world this stunning rose-drizzled cardamom wreath and a dark chocolate truffle fennel seed cheesecake on which I’m fairly sure I could develop a full-on crush. These lovely lamingtons are filled with the strained, spiced, and sweetened yogurt known as srikhand, smothered in cardamom chocolate, and finally lashed with pistachios. Stop salivating, start cooking, and be sure to lick the batter from the bowl – these are eggless.
You can rely on ex-GBBO contestant Urvashi Roe to know how East will best meet West. The focus of her Botanical Baker blog is, unsurprisingly, natural, aromatic ingredients. One floral creation that takes my fancy is her Rose Cheesecake – a creamy, rich bake that came into being after its creator was inspired by falooda – a rosy-nosed, milky tipple that can be gussied up with slippery wild basil seeds, strawberry jelly, vermicelli and ice cream. Urvashi’s addition of a buttery biscuit base just makes it better.
Okay, so you could argue that these delightful, dainty cakelets are complete classics and nothing at all to do with modern funky fusion. However, historically, these Mumbai favourites are precisely the product of multiple cultures. Bawi Bride’s buttery batter, enriched with the titular mawa – rich milk reduced to a doughlike substance – and cardamom, is an authentic rendition of a century-old invention of the city’s celebrated Irani cafes, combining British and Irani baking techniques with local ingredients.