Creativity flows when curiosity is stoked. Talent and luck might happen to you by chance, but learning is a skill and practice that anyone can accomplish with diligence.
Sahil Garg, acclaimed pastry chef from Jodhpur, rightly says that “learning is a continuous process” and that patience is key if we want to reach our goals. He has been trained at the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu, Paris.
His cakes are nothing short of spectacular and we were delighted to have a conversation with this passionate baker about his journey. Here we have shared his thoughts and advice on baking.
Q. How did you first get started with baking?
I started baking three years ago. Out of curiosity I started to bake on the weekends and began to enjoy it.
Be curious and keep exploring. This is how Sahil started his wonderful journey with baking.
Q. What are some of the things you do differently now than when you first started baking?
I went for a one-year professional baking course at Le Cordon Bleu, Paris. There are a lot of things I do very differently now, like measuring the ingredients in grams as compared to cups. I also concentrate more on the flavours. Earlier I was very new to this field so I did not have much knowledge, hence I was using a lot of pre-made flavours. But now that I am much more aware of the ingredients, I try to bring flavours naturally in my recipes.
Q. What has been your greatest challenge when it comes to baking?
I moved back to India just four months ago, so now it is a big challenge to create a lot of recipe ideas, especially because there is a huge demand for eggless cakes here. So one of the challenges would be eggless cakes. Second would be to get quality ingredients, for sure. I come from Jodhpur which is small and it’s not like Delhi and Mumbai where you’ll get any ingredients easily. So I usually have to source my ingredients from these two cities and I have to be prepared with everything, have a lot of ingredients in the pantry if I have to try out new recipes.
Despite these challenges, Sahil makes sure to keep trying out new flavours, combinations and ideas and has created fantastic cakes which have garnered a lot of attention.
Q. What is the most rewarding part of baking?
The most rewarding part would definitely be when I see a cake being baked when I finally see my product. Also, how much people enjoy it and the kind of appreciation they give me. Ultimately all the effort is worth it when you make a cake for someone and they like it.
Baking is a science and an art, and when done right, the sheer happiness of seeing and tasting that perfect cake makes the whole process totally worth it.
Q. Yes, absolutely. So can you tell us what are your favourite baking tools?
I am not into fondants so there are not many tools that I use. But I work a lot with chocolates so I would say my laser thermometer is my favourite as it helps me a lot.
Q. How was it studying at Le Cordon? Could you tell us a little about your experience there? What were some of the things you learnt there that were different from baking in India?
It was a very good experience. It was also very different because it was mainly about French pastry which is not just sponge and cream. It’s more about getting various flavours and textures. I learnt a lot of things I would never have even thought of and also I learnt how things are in the kitchen. Like in today’s world all the chefs, everybody’s on Instagram and it all looks very rosy in the pictures. But at Le Cordon, I realised that things are quite difficult in the kitchen and you need to bear with these difficulties. Working in a professional kitchen, how things run, paying gratitude to everyone working in the organization. When it comes to baking, of course there was a lot of pastry I learnt, how to work with different flavours and textures. Overall it opened a lot of horizons for me.
It’s not as easy as it looks! Behind all those, gorgeous and delicious looking cake pictures is a lot of trial and error, hours of labour and countless challenges that have to be tackled.
Q. Which one of your cakes is your favourite?
I would say the Opera cake because it’s a combination of coffee and chocolate and it’s very challenging as there are multiple layers. You have to make sure that the heights are even and be very careful with the overall measurements.
Getting all the lines straight, the edges and angles right are extremely crucial for obtaining that beautiful, perfectly layered cake.
Read:-How To Make Unicorn Cake
Q. Could you give some advice to people who have just started baking or would love to start?
For people who are starting, I can give them just one important tip – be patient. Things don’t happen overnight. I have been baking for three years now and people still think I can do so many things but no, it takes a lot of time. Learning is a never-ending process. Be consistent, be patient and continue to learn and grow. Don’t ever think that you’ve learnt enough. Even today, I attend a lot of workshops and baking sessions. In fact, I am also going to attend a couple of sessions at The Bakers Collective because this field is always evolving, there are new baking trends coming every now and then, so to keep up with the trends, you have to be inquisitive.
We are a generation that wants things instantly, so we think that success should also come instantly. But that is not how it works, it takes a lot of hard work and perseverance, Sahil believes.
Q. Lastly, what does The Bakers Collective mean to you?
I think it is a very great initiative by all the organizers because in India the bakers’ community is growing exponentially and we do need a platform where we all can come together to interact, grow and evolve. It’s very important as a community; there is a need for a platform where there is recognition and people can contact each other. For example, there are a few people with whom I have connected on Instagram for quite some time now. They are different bakers from all over India, I’ve seen and like their work but have never actually met them. So The Bakers Collective is one opportunity where I can meet these people in person and get to know their thought process and how baking works in their cities.
Interaction while also having fun is such an effective way of learning, exchanging ideas and developing our talent. We thank Sahil for his invaluable insights on the wonderful art of baking and wish him greater heights of success!