A cake for Janmashtami

Falguni Shah’s Indian-themed cakes, free of eggs, are a delightful combination of folklore, flavour and craftsmanship

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This Krishna Janmashtami we saw an exquisite piece of edible art — a Janmashtami special Matki cake by Falguni Shah, a Sydney based baker. The eggless cake is custom-made keeping in mind Krishna’s love for maakhan (butter) and stealing it, which he was both infamous and loved for.

Falguni, a self-taught baker, first began baking in 2016. “My first successfully baked eggless-cake was for my son’s third birthday. Before that, I used to experiment with cake mixes from Coles. But they didn’t work well, plus I’m a vegetarian, and without eggs, the cakes just would not taste as good.”

Eventually, Google and Pinterest came to the rescue. Countless trials later, she got the right mix and taste, in spite of skipping the conventional cake ingredient: eggs.

“I felt there was a need in the international baking market to create uniquely designed, eggless but tasty cakes, as there is a large vegetarian population to cater to. So I had to get the recipe right not just for myself but also for consumers who seek delicious, eggless cakes.”

With winning recipes and the artistic looks of her creations, customers were sold. With the Janmashtami Matki cake posts, their Facebook page reached a whopping 50k viewership. “I don’t usually accept cake orders unless the concept or the event inspires me to create something out of the ordinary! Like the Janmashtami Matki cake, I took inspiration from Krishna’s childhood tales. I first baked a 6-inch thick chocolate cake, then carved out the matki shape, added fresh butter-cream inside it as Krishna loves fresh, home-made butter, hand-crafted the peacock feather, the flute, and painted each motif with edible colours. So it’s not about the business, it has to inspire me to create edible artwork.”

For this cake and many others, like the Dholki cake or the Paithani Saree cake, Falguni needs a painstaking 6-7 hours. And each cake has a story embedded in Indian culture. “I made the Dholki cake for a client’s mehendi ceremony. Dholki is such an integral part of our mehendi and sangeet function in Indian weddings, it signifies all the song and dance, the fun, the frolic of an Indian wedding. So I chose that as the shape for my cake and carved a single-tier vanilla sponge cake with strawberry jam, painted it bright blue, and handcrafted the golden ornamental designs.”

Falguni, who in 2017 won the ‘World’s Most Favourite Cake Designer’ award by Amazing Cake Ideas, USA, shares her love and talent for the art of baking through baking workshops and classes. Her next big project is to set up her very own bakery in suburban Sydney.