Meet young baker Sanjana Pai, from Bangalore

We’ve interviewed Sanjana Pai: a self-taught and young baker with a lot to say about Cakes, starting to bake regularly, and more. A delish recipe will be published this Friday, shared by her kindly…We’re certainly impressed with her talent as a young baker and wish her all the best for upcoming success.

A&B: How did you start in the world of baking?

A wee bit about myself first, I’m Sanjana Pai. I’m a 20-year-old self-taught home baker from Bangalore, India. I tried baking for the first time when I was 13. I failed, miserably. And so I dedicated a large amount of my time reading articles, watching videos, and scouring through blogs. I’d watch shows like Cake Boss, Bakery Boss, Masterchef Australia, and Fabulous Cakes all the time. Once I began to get the hang of it, I would bring cupcakes and other goodies for my friends at school and bake for the family too. 

I’ve been learning Bharathanatyam (one of the oldest forms of Indian classical dance in South India) for almost 14 years. I began taking orders roughly 4 years ago right after I put a temporary stop to my dancing. The happiness I felt when I received all the lovely feedback was similar to when I danced. So in a way, you could say, dance led me to bake. 

Sanjana dancing

My love for baking grew each time I baked, and the feedback I received kept me going. Trial and error was my biggest teacher. 

A&B: How does the first Cake story go… 

Dishes in Indian cuisine rarely involve the use of ovens. This was also why I baked rarely initially and had to learn everything from scratch. The first cake I baked was a result of sheer boredom. The cake overflowed in its tin and made a huge mess. There was something in me that wanted to get it right. I learned that baking isn’t so much throwing stuff together and tossing it in the oven, as much as it is an intricate science that I’ve had the pleasure of delving deep into. I began baking in my convection microwave oven and continued baking in it until last year. I’d try new recipes all the time. Some would fail, some would turn out great and some were just straight-up weird. The learning process is so much fun. It’s one of the things I love about baking; I get to learn something new every day.

A&B: Why Cakes? What’s your most wanted bake/Cake? Is there a reason behind it?

I chose to bake because being a small part of someone’s celebration and bringing a smile on their face made me immensely happy; more than I could imagine. That happiness, the “Oh My God! This is so good!” after they’ve eaten something you’ve baked is priceless!

The most wanted bake I would say is the chocolate cake (because some classics don’t disappoint). I think it’s because it pairs well with a large majority of ingredients and does just as well all alone too!

A&B: If you could advise Cake Bakers Beginners, what would you say? What was your toughest lesson?

Practice, over and over until you’ve got it just right. And then practice some more after that (Don’t worry about the leftovers. Those are for you and your friends to munch on later *wink wink*) 

It’s an honour when people trust you with baking for them. So if a certain mistake leads you to bake everything all over again, you should be willing to do it. Every bake is as important as the next. Whether it’s satisfying one person’s cravings or making a wedding cake for a hundred people, both are of equal importance.

My toughest lesson was learning to be patient. In the very beginning, I’d try and frost a cake and be annoyed that the edges didn’t turn out smooth and straight. I learned later that it takes an accurately aligned cake, a good turntable, a bench scraper, the perfect frosting, patience, and 20-30 minutes of my time to get straight and neat edges on a cake, with no air bubbles.

You can find Sanjana Pai’s work on Instagram here

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