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30 Questions with Haransh Bhatia

30 Questions with Haransh Bhatia

For the first time, we’re interviewing an Indian pastry chef. Young and determined, Haransh Bhatia talks about food, mental health and what it takes to be a pâtissière

 

1. Hi, Haransh! It’s a pleasure to have you with us today. Please tell us a little about yourself. 

Haransh Bhatia (24), is an upcoming Indian pastry chef and has been blogging since 2019.

Hi, Shristi! I’m a pastry chef based in Indore. I’ve been running a cloud bakery since 2019 and food is all I think about round the clock.

 

2. What inspired you to become a pastry chef? 

My passion for baking goes way back. My earliest memory of baking was of me sitting on the kitchen stand beating sugar and butter with my grandmother, to make a classic pound cake. I had always been inclined towards baking and as years passed by baking became a therapeutic experience. The calm and creative freedom that baking brings is what inspired me to become a pastry chef.

       

3. Name three kitchen gadgets that pay bang for your buck. 

  1. A stand mixer,  it’s great for making a big batch of cakes and kneading bread. Without one, you surely need a lot of MUSCLE POWER.
  2. A weighing scale, it’s worth every penny spent. Precision is very important when it comes to baking. A little change in quantities can result in a completely different product.
  3. A thermometer. Baking is very technical and certain things like tempering chocolate, making caramel are heat sensitive and require constant temperature checks.

 

4. A ‘food sin’ you often commit? 

 I love soups and I make sure I order them whenever I go out for dinner, even when I’m having a mocktail or wine.

 

5. What’s your comfort food? 

Butter khichdi (with extra butter!), Mac n Cheese and Khow Suey. Basically anything with hot rice or loaded cheese.

 

6. What’s your midnight craving? 

Chilli garlic rice noodles and a slice of red velvet cake (something to balance off the heat with!)

 

7. A food trend that you *just* can’t stand? 

Eating *whole wheat* or *multi-grain* bread. These labels don’t actually make a lot of difference in the health quotient. One big industrial secret – whole wheat and multigrain bread don’t contain more than 30% of the labeled flour.  Moreover, a lot of food colour is added to them in order to make them look a certain way.  

 

8. You can be always found drinking…

Water is my go-to drink and wine, occasionally. I don’t enjoy aerated drinks or mocktails a lot, I may take a sip once in a while.

 

9. What is the basic equipment a beginner should invest in? 

A weighing scale. If you enjoy baking and are even the tiniest bit serious about it please invest in a weighing scale, I can’t stress enough the importance of it. Baking needs precision, every recipe is perfected over the years, a little bit of change and you will end up with a completely different product. 

P.S. Cups don’t do the job. Just do an experiment, ask 3 people to measure 1 cup of flour. I bet you’ll end up with 3 different quantities.

A hand beater, it does a great job! Mixing batters, whipping eggs, whipping cream, making buttercream, meringue…makes everything quick and easy.

Invest in a good OTG. Don’t use microwave convection for your baked goods. Technically speaking, in an OTG the heat produced by the coil is absorbed by the food whereas, microwave heat the water molecules present in the food. Thus, resulting in different textures.

 

10. Name three desserts that you can prepare under $1. 

Creme Caramel, Panna Cotta with Strawberry Sauce and Millionaire’s Shortbread.

 

11. An ingredient/product that instantly makes food better? 

I’ll split my answer into two parts: for savoury dishes, I would say butter as it adds a lot of riches and flavour to the dish. For desserts it’s definitely a pinch of salt, it enhances the flavour and at the same time, it cuts through the sweetness and saves your dessert from tasting too sweet. I make sure I add a pinch of salt to every cake.

 

12. The secret to cooking great cakes is…

 

Patience and precision are what makes your ordinary cakes extraordinary.

 

Make sure you read the complete recipe, WEIGH all your ingredients before you start. Bring your ingredients to room temperature. Preheat the oven for at least 15 minutes, prepare (grease and line) your cake tins. Don’t try to rush through the process, give each step the required time. Always use a weighing scale. Baking is based on a lot of science hence it’s very important to maintain the ratios. 10 grams of extra flour can make your cake dense and dry, 2 grams of extra baking soda and your cake will end up having a soapy taste, a little extra fat could result in a greasy dense cake. So, it’s necessary to use the exact quantities and follow the recipe. Also, be patient while baking a cake you; are mixing ingredients that usually don’t blend together. The emulsification needs time. While making a pound cake if you add all the eggs at once to the sugar and butter mix, you would end up with a curdled batter. Make sure you add a little at a time or not more than one egg at a time.

 

13. A ‘food mantra’ you swear by…

I try to work with fresh locally available ingredients rather than using frozen ones. Anything that is in season tastes way better than something that has been thrown in the freezer for months. People run after exotic ingredients which are often tasteless when grown in India and extremely expensive when imported. Moreover, they don’t add much to our nutrition requirements.

 

14. One cookbook you absolutely swear by…

I grew up trying recipes from a book that belonged to my grandmother. It was written by Tarla Dalal. The book was way ahead of its time but it’s a 50-year-old book and I don’t think you’ll get it anymore. There is another book that I bought last year which had some wonderful recipes and covered a lot of basics, it’s Magnolia Kitchen by Bernadette Gee.

 

15. Your favourite cuisine is…

Italian, Thai and Indian. Nothing beats fresh homemade pasta!

 

16. When you’re not cooking you can be found doing? 

Eating! Just kidding! I love to read about the science behind baking how certain ingredients act. Each ingredient’s role varies from recipe to recipe, so I try to expand my knowledge. I also enjoy painting once in a while. 

 

17. What’s the best thing you learned at Sophia Polytechnic, Mumbai that helped you build your brand?

Discipline was the one thing that I lagged the most and the best thing I learned there (apart from some amazing recipes and techniques).

 

18. If you could collaborate with one chef, who would it be and why?

It would be chef Kainaz Messman. The way she has grown her business (Theobroma Patisserie) over the past two decades is truly inspirational.

 

19. Three food photography tricks that help click fantastic photos… 

  1. Always make use of the natural light available. Click your pictures near a window.
  2. Choose a clean and clutter-free background. Invest in a good backdrop or try making some backdrops using whatever is available around you.
  3. Pay attention to the details. Use props for a colour pop. Keep a plant or a flower vase in the frame, it instantly adds life to the picture.

 

20. Three ingredients that can ‘make’ and ‘break’ a recipe would be…

Too much baking powder or soda. Your cake will sink once it’s out of the oven and it will have a weird soapy taste.

Margarine or vegetable shortening. Margarine is generally used as a substitute for butter to cut down the cost but it doesn’t have any flavour and contains trans fats.

Artificial flavour. Any artificial flavour (such as vanilla, rose, pineapple) gives a weird strong flavour which overpowers the flavour of the actual dish. Try using natural ingredients like rose petals, vanilla beans, etc. as they have a fresh subtle flavour.

Butter has a delightful flavour that no other form of fat can provide. It adds a lot of richness.

A pinch of salt, in any cake recipe, elevates the flavours to a whole new level.

I love to add some coffee to my chocolate cakes, the coffee beautifully complements the chocolate.

 

21. A food habit you want to inculcate is…

Having a proper breakfast. I usually skip breakfast and end up feeling lethargic for the rest of the day. 

 

22. How has the pandemic affected you and your business? 

To be honest, the pandemic has had a positive impact on my business. During the pandemic, people started shifting from store-bought cakes to home bakers which helped me expand my customer base. Individually speaking it is a tough time for all and it has taken a toll on me from time to time. But we should try and move ahead no matter what. My business has definitely helped me cope with the pandemic by keeping me distracted.

 

23. What mental health hack(s) would you like to share with our readers to stay sane during these tough times?

 

24. In future, where do you think your passion will take you? 

I wish to start an academy. Educating people about baking is something I absolutely love. Baking is a science and an art, there is so much more to it than ingredients and recipes. 

 

25. What according to you, is the biggest myth when it comes to creating bespoke cakes and chocolates? 

That they can be done in a short span of time. A lot of creativity goes behind a bespoke product, whatever it may be, one can only deliver a satisfactory service if they have sufficient time for it. Every element that goes on or with a bespoke product is custom made.

 

26. What’s the most challenging part of being a pastry chef? 

Being a chef calls for a lot of stamina and physical strength. You are expected to work for 10-12 hours a day, sometimes even more. A lot of people don’t account for it when they choose culinary as a career. But if you love what you do, 10 hours in the kitchen won’t seem long!

 

27. One thing you’d do differently if you had to start over? 

If I had the chance to start over I would have gone to a pastry school sooner. I wasted 3 years on my graduation which didn’t help me much.

 

28. Tell us about your biggest obstacle and how did you overcome it?

I have always been a physically weak child, even on my first day in Sophia, I passed out because of the heat and exertion. For me to develop the stamina to work in the kitchen for long hours was imperative. I kept a check on my diet, ate every 2 hours, started sleeping at a reasonable time and with time got the required strength.

 

29. How do you work?

Currently, my mom and I manage the business together and I outsource the deliveries. I make sure I make the cake a little ahead of the delivery time so that I get enough time to click pictures. I have attended a few online workshops on food photography and social media marketing that help me effectively manage the business.

 

30. One recipe you’d like to share with our readers…

Eggless Chocolate Lava Cake

Yields: 6 medium-sized ramekins

Serves: 6

Prep time: 20 min

Baking time: 12 min

Total time: 32 minutes

Calories per serving: 1204

Cuisine: American

 

Experience a blast of molten chocolate in your mouth with our decadent chocolate lava cake. It’s the perfect dessert for all types of gatherings and can be made using ingredients that are easily available in your pantry.

 

Ingredients:

Flour- 60gm

Milk powder- 35gm

Sugar- 75gm

Salt – a pinch (skip this if you are using salted butter)

Baking powder- ½  tsp

Cocoa powder-20gm

Butter 30gm

Water 75ml

Dark chocolate 60gm

 

Equipments required:

OTG

Weighing scale

A whisk 

Six medium-sized Ramekins

 

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven at 180°C
  2. In a bowl sieve all the dry ingredients (i.e. flour, baking powder, sugar, milk powder, cocoa)
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk hot water and butter till combined.
  4. Now, slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry mix, while whisking.
  5. Grease 6 medium-sized ramekins with butter and dust them with some cocoa powder.
  6. Portion ⅔ of the batter equally in all the ramekins, add around 10gm of chocolate in the centre of each ramekin and cover it with the batter.
  7. Bake it for 12 min or till the edges and top are crisp.
  8. Dust a little cocoa powder and serve.

 

Points to remember:

  1. Place the ramekins in the centre of the oven.
  2. Make sure your OTG is at toast (i.e. both the rods are on)
  3. Please use good quality cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s cocoa powder, it is easily available at supermarkets).
  4. Use couverture chocolate, compound chocolate burns at high temperatures and you’ll be left with a hard sugary centre.  
  5. Make sure the ramekins are not filled more than ¾.
  6. You can also dust powdered sugar and decorate them with berries of your choice.

 

Print

Eggless Chocolate Lava Cake

Experience a blast of molten chocolate in your mouth with our decadent chocolate lava cake. It’s the perfect dessert for all types of gatherings and can be made using ingredients that are easily available in your pantry.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword Choco Lava Cake, Chocolate Lava Cake, Eggless Choco Lava Cake, Eggless Chocolate Lava Cake
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 32 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 1204kcal
Author Haransh Bhatia

Equipment

  • OTG
  • Weighing scale
  • A whisk 
  • Six medium-sized Ramekins

Ingredients

  • 60 g Flour
  • 35 g Milk powder
  • 75 g Sugar
  • A pinch of salt (skip this if you are using salted butter)
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 20 g cocoa powder
  • 30 g butter
  • 75 ml water
  • 60 g Dark chocolate

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven at 180°C.
  • In a bowl sieve all the dry ingredients (i.e. flour, baking powder, sugar, milk powder, cocoa)
  • In a separate bowl, whisk hot water and butter till combined.
  • Now, slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry mix, while whisking.
  • Grease 6 medium-sized ramekins with butter and dust them with some cocoa powder.
  • Portion ⅔ of the batter equally in all the ramekins, add around 10gm of chocolate in the centre of each ramekin and cover it with the batter.
  • Bake it for 12 min or till the edges and top are crisp.
  • Dust a little cocoa powder and serve.

Notes

  1. Place the ramekins in the centre of the oven.
  2. Make sure your OTG is at toast (i.e. both the rods are on)
  3. Please use good quality cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s cocoa powder, it is easily available at supermarkets).
  4. Use couverture chocolate, compound chocolate burns at high temperatures and you’ll be left with a hard sugary centre.  
  5. Make sure the ramekins are not filled more than ¾.
  6. You can also dust powdered sugar and decorate them with berries of your choice.

 

For more information, follow Haransh Bhatia on Instagram.

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