A Mentor, An Inspiration And A Great Teacher – Ruhee Bhimani, Founder of Cocoa Cottage – #Forkers

The art of baking is beautiful. It is like nurturing a baby. The more love, care and affection a baker shows towards his/her product, the better the final outcome turns out to be. Some bakers enjoy baking for their better halves or children, some like to pursue it as a weekend hobby. And then there are home bakers who practice the art of baking and run their own little businesses. Each of these individuals is an entrepreneur in his/her own little way! When a product that was created with a lot of patience, hard work and energy sells in the market, the level of satisfaction one gets is definitely high. Our next #Forker is someone who conducts baking workshops and motivates these young entrepreneurs to go after their dreams. Yes, we are referring to the beautiful Ruhee Bhimani, founder of Cocoa Cottage and a Masterchef specialising in eggless baking.

Based in Andheri, Mumbai, Cocoa Cottage is one of the best brands in town for baking workshops and includes over 65 different courses including cakes, chocolates, cupcakes, breads, French macarons, classic and contemporary entremets, cross-over bakes and desserts! Ruhee does city tours in places such as Pune, Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Chennai and goes around spreading her love for baking. She recently conducted a two-day workshop in Pune where she taught her students how to make French macaron and Petit Entreme. We managed to get hold of her to get an insight into the interesting things she has been doing so far:

1. Did you always want to be a pastry chef? How did it all start?

Hailing from a family of doctors and engineers, I was on my way to becoming a dentist! I got admission in an esteemed university but before taking it up I had a chat with my dad regarding whether or not it was the right decision. After the chat, a realisation occurred to me and I decided that I wanted to become a chef. I did my graduation in hotel management from Rizvi Bandra where I topped Mumbai University, and that’s how my journey began.

Petit French Entremet
Petit French Entremet

2. What do you enjoy most about baking?

I really enjoy the whole process of baking but my favourite bit is the part when the bakes rise! The idea of placing the batter in the oven and seeing the muffins rise, or preparing a mixture and witnessing it change in shape, size, texture or colour really interests me and intrigues me every time I bake.

Pineapple Cake Inserts for Petit Entreme
Pineapple Cake Inserts for Petit Entreme

3. What’s the most difficult part about baking?

Well, if you practice and train yourself well, there is nothing difficult about baking. There are times when you may face difficulties in terms of time, temperature, oven, availability of ingredients, etc. But apart from that, it’s an art that everyone can learn.

4. ‘Healthy Fusion Baking’ is your distinctive style of baking. Tell us a little about it.

India being the diabetes capital of the world, I realised that we need to come up with recipes which are healthy but at the same time yummy. So I indulged in some experimentation and created sugar substitutes for people suffering from diabetes. I started making flours and decorations with different ingredients so as to reduce the calorie content of the preparation. And that is how the concept of ‘Healthy Fusion Baking’ evolved. The idea is to create recipes which accommodate different dietary requirements. This makes them suitable for people who go to the gym and would like to cheat clean!

As of now, I have used whey and protein powders to come up with high-protein bakes and desserts such as brownies, tarts, desserts, no-bake brownies, cookies and granola bars. My next step would be to create recipes for people with special requirements such as those suffering from hair loss or other health issues. I want to create pre and post-workout bars that are specific to different individuals’ protein intake so that they can use these for muscle building. I am also looking at coming up with gluten-free and vegan bakes which will be easy to digest and will provide healthier options for those who like to stay fit.

Petit French Entremet - Cocoa
Petit French Entremet – Cocoa

5. What inspires you to keep coming up with new recipes?

Honestly, after a while, I start to get bored of things so I keep trying out new ways and methods of doing them. This is one of the main things that keeps me going! There are so many amazing recipes available out there. I do new cross-overs and try to give the world something that they have never seen before.

6. Which is your favourite recipe out of the ones you have created till date?

Citrus Tartffin! A tartffin is a cross-over between a tart and a muffin. Citrus tartffin is made using an amazing lemon curd filling in the centre along with lemon zest and a zing of lemongrass.

7. Name one extremely weird or out-of-the-box flavour which surprisingly makes a great combination.

Entremet Madagascar! I absolutely love it because of the combination of its flavours. It consists of reconstructed pate sable, mango, pineapple and passion fruit confit, lemon curd mousse and coconut lemongrass bubble mousse.

Cocoa Petit French Entremet in the making
Cocoa Petit French Entremet in the making

8. How, do you think, the baking industry has changed from what it used to be a few years ago? What kind of new trends can we expect in the future?

I feel like earlier people would pursue baking only as a hobby. But over the years, more and more people are indulging in home-baking and making businesses out of it. This is mainly because people are more aware of the industry now. Today, a lot of people knows what textures are, how brownies need to be nice and gooey, how a macaron needs to be crispy on the top and chewy inside.

As far as future trends are concerned, things are shaping up rather neatly. We will be seeing more of cross-over baking wherein two original entities are crossed over to introduce a new creation. Molecular gastronomy is another trend that will soon be catching up. My next launch is going to revolve around it too where I am going to come up with something new under Japanese-French Pastries.

9. What’s the one thing that you have achieved and are most proud of?

It is yet to come! I keep striving to achieve more and I don’t want to restrict myself. I felt great when I conducted the NGO activity at Aseema and CSR activities at AKDN. At Cocoa Cottage, every year, we train over 60 under-privileged women at absolutely no cost! This provides them with means of earning an income from home. We provide them with ingredients, sample takeaways and a certificate. These are the things I feel happy about.

French Macaron
French Macaron

11. What is the best compliment you have ever received for your work?
Haha! Well, I’m going to shy away from answering this one. The best people for this answer would be my students.

12. What is the one thing that every baker absolutely must possess?
A VERY GOOD OVEN!

13. A word of advice for budding bakers/entrepreneurs in the industry?

Get your basics right first! It is very important to learn the game before you start breaking the rules. So ensure that you are well aware of all the rules. After that, you can use your pastry to express your creativity. Also, if you want to run a successful business, start by building relationships.

14. What’s your all-time favourite dessert?

A perfect French Macaron which is crispy on the outside and chewy from inside! Preferably a Rasberry one.

Well, Ruhee’s passion for baking is definitely invigorating! We attended the Pune workshop and absolutely loved it. More than a good mentor, Ruhee becomes a great friend to each of her students and motivates them to keep getting better at what they do. We wish her all the best for her future endeavours and keep looking forward to the exciting new recipes she is going to come up with.

For more details, you can visit http://www.bakeryworkshops.in/

French Macaron
French Macaron

About the author

The founder of The First Fork, Karishma likes to live in the moment and take life as it comes. Originally from aamchi Pune, she is swalp Bangalorean at heart and loves the Mumbaiya energy! Biking adventures, good food and inappropriate humour are things that get her going and she fantasises about going hitchhiking around the galaxy one day.

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