She’s busier than the proverbial bee, working on her new Diwali menu. Home baker Juhi Pahwa is the toast of Bollywood with her lip-smacking treats in the 85-calorie cupcake and 45-calorie muffin series, her delicious grazing options in power-packed nut and seed trail mixes, brownie brittle with cracker-crisp consistency, keto-cocoa energy balls, healthy nankhatai, and her vintage theatre of flavours in eggless cakes. Call it The Better Binge.
“I am working on three new flavours: vanilla tea reduction, marble cake with chocolate accents, red velvet with Belgian dark chocolate…,” she says smiling, whipping divine bakes in minutes. Four years old in the business, Juhi Pahwa has B-town celebs eating out of her hands—literally! Her famous jowar dark chocolate cake has die-hard fans in the best bods— Jacqueline Fernandes and Yasmin Karachiwala.
Katrina Kaif swears by her buckwheat pancakes with peanut butter strokes and a nutty organic drizzle. Esha Deol and Sophie Choudry simply love her pinatas. Ananya Pandey and her mum, Bhavna, ration her muffins throughout the week. The list goes on and on with Manish Malhotra, Alia Bhatt, Rajkummar Rao, and Patralekha being her patrons “I tweak my recipes in keeping with personal tastes, like Rajkummar and Patralekha wanted their cake with fresh fruits. I play with seasonal infusions in strawberries and mangoes to bring in the natural sugar rush,” says Juhi. She is a stickler for rules, and the rule is that you don’t put her jowar chocolate cake in the refrigerator. Yasmin did, and Juhi immediately rushed to her with another J-special in time for her son’s birthday cake cutting moment.
“Honestly, baking is all about precision,” says Juhi, who conducts online workshops for those keen to decode the magic that goes into the making of healthy, artisanal cakes and dessert hybrids. If my recipe says 113 grams of flour, you cannot toss in 120 grams. Follow everything to the T—from the exact baking time to the cooling period.
The biggest blooper? “Home bakers often keep checking on the cake every 10 minutes. Each time you open the oven, you lower the temperature and this is why cakes often sink. While baking millet cakes, it is crucial to follow the ratio and proportion in the ingredient list. Understand that each millet flour is different and behaves uniquely in terms of a hydration profile. For instance, jowar has a nutty flavour, and this cake carries a molten chocolate centre. You refrigerate it to ruin and render it rock solid,” she says. Ouch.
But all of us tend to toss the cake we receive on order into the polar region. “Chocolate carries stabilising agents that make them set at room temperature in a couple of hours. We function as a force of habit because we have always been conditioned as kids to also put Dairy Milk in the fridge, and prevent cakes from getting spoiled by shoving them in too. Desist!”
Shilpi Madan for Zee Zest