One of Mumbai's earliest brownie start-ups turns nine; the maker remembers baking on a Sunflame cooking range
Brownies cannot be considered mini cake squares because they fail to include a vital component that goes into all cakes — yeast. That’s something we learn during a chat with Prache Goel, founder of Brownie Cottage, one of the city’s earliest brownie brands.
The 36-year-old confectioner whose brownie brand turned nine this July, says, the brownie was invented when an American baker forgot to add baking powder to his cake. “A brownie, unlike a sponge cake, should not rise, yet remain soft and moist. It’s that gooey texture I’m referring to,” she says, urging us to take a bite of a warm Belgian chocolate brownie at her Oshiwara kitchen.
Prache Goel, founder of Brownie Cottage, inspects freashly baked Belgian chocolate brownies. Pic/Sharad Vegda
Here, the air is sweet, with a tinge of bitter. Her team of four is making Twix, After Eight, hazelnut and Belgian chocolate into brownies.
In 2001, Goel wrapped up a baking course from Sophia Polytechnic, and interned at The Oberoi Towers in the summer of that year. “I owe my success to that training. It was mango season, and all I did for two months was peel mangoes and chop them for garnishing. It was only in the last month that the chefs decided to teach me something,” she says, without looking up from the batter she is layering with Nutella in a tray. She continues to preserve a tattered file of recipes she had scribbled during that internship.
“I never wanted to set up a business. I only wanted to cook good food for Raghav,” she gushes about her then boyfriend, now husband. When he was posted in Lonavala, she’d supply small orders to food stores around the hill station, and conduct classes. “Then, one day, we decided to pack our bags and give our dream a chance,” says Goel, her hand skillfully running the custom-made cutter horizontally and vertically on the slab before she gets 16 pieces, 3x3” large, just 0.6” in height. “Without a leavening agent like baking soda or yeast, a brownie should be a bit undercooked too, unlike a cake” she adds.
In 2007, the couple set up their first kiosk at Carter Road in Bandra and at Seven Bungalows, Andheri “Since it was a homegrown venture, we named it Brownie Cottage. Our tagline was ‘Baking a Dream’. I worked on a Sunflame cooking range, until my landlord threw a fit. Then we moved out and set up a central kitchen.” In 2008, she set up a stall at Inox, Nariman Point. “It was the day Jodhaa Akbar released and Sanjay Dutt got married to Manayata in a private affair.”
Today, she dishes out 15,000 brownies a month. The perfect squares cost between Rs 129 and Rs 219. Her latest flavours include granola and apricot, and walnuts and maple syrup. Go, tuck in.
>> 1 egg
>> 15 gm brown sugar
>> 80 gm sugar
>> 70 gm flour
>> 20 gm cocoa
>> 70 gm butter
>> 25 gm walnut
>> 50 gm milk
>> Cream the butter and sugar till light and fluffy
>> Slowly add the egg
>> Fold in the dry ingredients with the melted butter and milk till dropping consistency
>> Bake till moist, not dry
>> Store in airtight containers
Serve warm with ice-cream and hot chocolate sauce