Ask the Foodie: Ankrish Gidwani
At 12 years old, keen baker Ankrish Gidwani e-mailed the city's top pastry chefs, asking to work in their kitchens. When none responded, he started a blog. Today Baking Maniac displays the creations he bakes with his mother for weddings and events. Now 16, Ankrish dreams of studying pastry making in Paris and opening his own bakery here.
Did you ever think interest in your cakes would grow the way it has?
Mum and I never dreamed of this. October has been mad. We've got a wedding every week, which has never happened before.
What was your original aim?
Just to bake for a few people once or twice.
What's the largest number you've baked for to date?
The biggest was 350 cupcakes; we just did that last week.
You still bake in the kitchen at home with your mum. How long does it take you to prepare for an event like that?
A full day. We don't like to take it to two days because then it's not fresh. We'll stay up from 6am to 4am. And then the next day I'll have school.
How do you juggle baking with books?
I'd prefer not to balance school, but so far it's OK. I try and do all my work on the day it's given, so if I get an order the next day, I can take it.
What do your friends say about your baking?
They are really supportive. They want cupcakes every day, but I can't give them that. I say that I am busy, but they don't believe me.
Ten per cent of what you make goes to charity. Do you also bake for charity?
We try to do as many charity events as we can. For Giving Bread, I go every week to the hotels and pick leftover bread, which we pack and give to the homeless. Sometimes I'll bake them cupcakes as well.
I have half-term holidays in two weeks, and I'd like to do decorating classes for underprivileged children. Perhaps I'll bake all the cakes and they'll decorate them.
How have your cakes changed since you started baking?
It used to be just brownies and stuff, things we used to eat at home. We never did cake pops before or cupcakes, which have become our main thing. And the decoration. If you look at my decoration from four years ago compared to now … wow!
What's been your toughest job?
I would say our first wedding. It was only 70 cupcakes, which now seems like nothing, but at the time it was really something. We didn't have a stand. We didn't know how to move them. We spent two months planning. Now we just know it.
Do you have any baking tips?
Use the best ingredients. Before we had orders, we would use cheap ingredients. We couldn't afford fondant or Madagascar vanilla. I've really been able to see the difference.
Do you cook, too?
No. I studied food technology for GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education), which involved cooking, but they made an exception and said I could do baking. I did gluten free because it was something new.
Did you send a recipe to a TV station?
TLC had a competition for the show Cake Boss, so I sent my recipe, and it finished in the top five. It was choux pastry layered with mascarpone and raspberries, then mascarpone and blueberries, and then chocolate.
We'd like to do more big companies. I want to go to Paris if I can. They have a one-year diploma course in pastry, although mum wants me to do a degree first. My ultimate dream is to open my own cake shop.