Saturday, October 16, 2021

Between an oven and a hot place: My baking journey

Confronted with a hefty price for her daughter's birthday cake, this self-taught baker decided to have a go herself.

Reading Time: 4 minutes 

The warm smell of chocolate and vanilla wafted through our home as I sat licking the leftover cake batter. At 8 years old, I already had a keen love for baking – inspired by my mum.

Mum’s recipes were simple. She taught me to bake using a teacup as a measure and a spoon to mix the batter. Her methods were as unconventional as her stove-top oven and her cakes as soft as clouds laced with butter.

- Advertisement -

As if my mum wasn’t inspiration enough, my cousin Natasha would regularly allow me the honor of separating eggs/assisting her in churning out her signature Cashew Biscuits and Chocolate-Walnut loaf. Nat was a stickler for rules and taught me to ALWAYS sift the sugar, flour and cocoa – a lesson that has held me in good stead.

I was a keen student in the company of keen bakers!

Putting some finishing touches on a wedding cake where each tier was a different flavour!

Over the years, my love of baking was dethroned by guitars, rock and music festivals. However, when motherhood came knocking, I quickly became that over-excited mother who celebrates the baby’s birthday each month. For the first year of my daughter Shannon’s life, my family gathered every month to celebrate her birthday.

Knowing my love for baking, art and the element of surprise, there was an unspoken expectation from my guests – one that I willingly strived to meet as I baked cakes in different flavours and shapes each month. I never imagined those little parties were but a training ground for the journey ahead.

We moved to Sydney in early 2012 with a three-year-old Shannon in our arms and our lives tightly packed into 6 pieces of luggage. Life was suddenly a blank page in the best and worst ways. Shannon’s birthday rolled around amidst our chaos of starting afresh both socially and practically. I found myself processing a local cakemaker’s $250 quote for Shannon’s dream cake that year. Spending that much on a cake would force me to compromise on other aspects of her birthday party – a compromise that I wasn’t willing to make.

I decided to have a go at the cake myself. Voila! A 3D Peppa Pig cake – oohed and aahed over and approvingly devoured by the little guests in 5 minutes flat.

Shannon is a creative child. Her imagination has no boundaries and therefore she assumes the same of mine. Over the years, her cake requests only grew in complexity and eccentricity – from ice castles to giant 3D Cadbury bars and a Disco ball cake that spun and lit up. Always eager to surpass the expectation, I harnessed my creative gifting and my Engineering background to create cakes that wowed Shannon and now, my son Jaden.

Friends began to notice my cake skills and I soon became the designated baker within my circle. I was quite content making cakes for fun and giving them away for free. However, my sweet friends Junne Duquilla and Amanda Regler repeatedly encouraged me to turn it into a business. Junne, forcibly, even became my first paying customer. An ABN number and a Facebook page later, ‘Baker Mum’ was born.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Baker Mum Cakes (@bakermumcakes)

Out of my tiny home kitchen, I have baked countless cakes for countless people from all over Sydney. I’ve made simple cakes, complex cakes – regular, eggless, GF and vegan too! Elegant Wedding Cakes, Supercar cakes that move, cakes that hang upside down/light up, cakes convincingly disguised as a pot of Biryani, a Wok of Noodles, bucket of Coronas or a bottle of wine – fully edible -I’ve made them all. Fondant rarely appears on my cakes – it’s all chocolate and buttercream for me!

Baking continues to bring me joy and challenge me. It’s not unusual for me to camp at my local Bunnings as I come up with design intricacies – my version of baking often involves power tools! I use my Electrical Engineering degree to steadily redefine people’s approach to cake – while still slaving over creating multiple moist, delicate layers of cake and icing. With cakes, as it is with people, what’s a good illusion without substance?

I’d love to say that I threw out the figurative ‘Baking Rule Book’. However, in truth, I’ve never read the rule book nor attended a baking class in my life. I happily enjoy a level of freedom limited only by my imagination, founded on practical experience and spurred by people’s ever-growing loyalty to Baker Mum cakes.

Looking back, I am thankful that once-upon-a-time I couldn’t spend $250 on my daughter’s dream cake. Choosing to make it myself set me upon the most delightful journey. I can’t offer steadfast wisdom on how to choose when life puts one between ‘a rock and a hard place’. However, there’s one choice I can advise with confidence. If life ever places you between ‘an oven and a hot place’, choose the oven!

READ ALSO: MasterChef Australia’s Depinder: From pharmacy to food

Link up with us!

Indian Link News website: Save our website as a bookmark

Indian Link E-NewsletterSubscribe to our weekly e-newsletter

Indian Link Newspaper: Click here to read our e-paper

Indian Link app: Download our app from Apple’s App Store or Google Play and subscribe to the alerts


Twitter: @indian_link

Instagram: @indianlink

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/IndianLinkMediaGroup

- Advertisement -
Melissa Domingo
Melissa is an Electrical & Electronics Engineer who much prefers to Engineer words, music & cake - always searching for gold in the mundane.

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -


Ep 9: What do young Indians want from love?

  Growing up in Indian culture, most of us know that love has never been as popular as marriage. Even in the movies, the main...

Ep 8: Indian links in Indigenous Australian poet Ali Cobby Eckermann’s...

  To celebrate NAIDOC week 2020 (between 8-15 November) I spoke to Yakunytjatjara poet Ali Cobby Eckermann about her time in India where she taught...

Ep 7: In the case of Sushant Singh Rajput

  The torrid and high-octane Sushant Singh Rajput case has been fodder for Indian people and press for the last few months. The actor’s tragic death...
- Advertisement -

Latest News

Vishal Jood rushed out of Australia

Hours after his release from custody, controversial jailed Indian national Vishal Jood was rushed out of Australia on the first available flight. In a statement,...

Review: Dhindora (YouTube Original)

‘Dhindora’ means beating of the drums; figuratively, it also means tomtomming. This eight-episode comedy series streaming on YouTube is part social commentary, albeit crass,...
Taapsee Pannu as Rashmi. Source: Twitter

REVIEW: Rashmi Rocket (Zee5)

  Rashmi Rocket is a scathing sports drama. It is not a story of an underdog but that of a gifted athlete who was subjected...
scott morrison

Triple J Hack: South Asian Aussies on ScoMo’s curry nights

  This week on Triple J Hack, Indian Link journalist Rhea L Nath, Liverpool Councillor Charishma Kaliyanda, and Crikey federal politics reporter Kishor Napier-Raman spoke to...
John Lang (left) and Rani Lakshmi (right). Source: Goodreads, Wikimedia commons

John Lang, Rani Laxmibai’s Aussie attorney against the British (review)

  John Lang, In the Court of the Ranee of Jhansi and Other Travels in India, Speaking Tiger, 2015; Rupa Publications 2016.  Har-Anand publications 2015;...