The last time I baked was during my summer vacations after Class 10 board exams when two friends and I signed up for a baking class. While we gorged on all the yummy delights the instructor baked for each session, I ended up making only the butter cookies with burnt bottoms.

Pooja Dhingra puts icing on cupcakes at her kitchen in Lower Parel. Pic/Emmanual Karbhari

I picked up the Big Book of Treats, with the idea that baking is a tough art. But, right from the first section of the book I was at ease, as Baking 101 solves the initial hurdles — ingredients, equipments and techniques. Most recipes require basic ingredients found in every Indian kitchen such as cream, Amul butter and castor sugar.

“Ingredients are a bigger worry than the method itself,” said Dhingra when we visited her kitchen a Lower Parel last week. The first tip she gave us was to buy a weighing scale. “Indians are intimidated by baking because ‘yaha andaze se nahi chalta’. To get the right consistency, you have to measure accurately and use the right utensils,” adds Dhingra, who learnt the art at Le Cordon Bleu, Paris.

One snag every new baker experiences is burning the top of a cake or cupcake, while the centre remains uncooked. “One can adopt a more gentle form of baking here by covering the top, almost cooked part with a foil and continue cooking,” said Dhingra.

Test drive
Charged up, I decided to bake the Chai Cake and Dark Chocolate Fudge Bars. I had no idea that simple ingredients such as chocolate, condensed milk, sugar, butter and flour could create such magic. Thanks to the easy-to-follow steps and definitions of baking terms in the book’s beginning, I finally discovered the baker in me.

The book is published by Penguin and costs Rs 699
Those interested can sign up for workshops on