In and out the white forest
Daniel Ndai Kariuki is only 19 years, but his name is known by many. When I first tasted a cake he had made, I thought he had been in the baking industry for years. He is a young baker who has made cakes for several occasions including big weddings. So, when I got an opportunity to go behind the counter with him, I jumped on it.
At his mother’s bakery known as Amazing Grace Bakery located in Kikuyu town, Kiambu county, we were to prepare a white forest cake. Unlike other bakers who don’t mix all the ingredients at once, Daniel uses an all-in-all method when mixing. With this, he puts all the ingredients in the mixing bowl and combines them using an electric mixer. He says that though this method is discouraged, he prefers it because it is easy and faster and he has his way of removing the air that may have found its way into the mixture.
“For spongy cakes, we use more eggs than when preparing hard cakes. You also have to use essence to remove the eggs smell and in our case, we’ll use vanilla essence,” he advises as we set out to begin the process.
Once the mixture was ready, he went ahead to put it into the baking pan. He explained that for one to know whether the mixture is ready, which can also be prepared using a hand mixer, it should be soft and fluffy. He pre-heated the oven up to 200 degrees then put the mixture inside.
As we were waiting for the cake to be ready, I learned that Daniel landed into the baking industry against his mother’s wish, also a baker. After insisting on pursuing his interest, he was admitted to a baking school. “My mother thought that after enrolling in a baking school, I would lose interest in it, probably due the novelty wearing off, but that never happened. I was always keen to learn and surprisingly, I used to join her in her bakery for my out-of-school practicals. To me, baking is a passion,” he shared.
Clearly, a family that bakes together stays together, as the two are now working together as employee and employer. They have mastered how to maintain the boundaries by not crossing the business line at work, yet having a great mother-son relationship at home.
To ensure he has all it takes to be a professional baker, Daniel has enrolled for a baking course with another college for a diploma course. Since no one is born a perfect baker, the chef admits making different mistakes since getting into the profession, the most humbling being baking without using baking powder. Of course the result was something far from a cake.
He urges fellow youths to always follow their dreams and never let anyone discourage them, not even their parents, because neglecting passion blocks creative flow. “When you’re passionate, you’re energised. Likewise, when you lack passion, your energy is low and unproductive. Energy is everything when it comes to being successful,” is how he puts it.