Pastry chef Juhi Pahwa does not like sugar coating. The baker to the stars owns The Better Binge, an artisanal cake brand in Mumbai, whose gluten-free, vegan cakes are free of refined sugar, butter, milk, eggs and white flour. The brand has amassed close to 18.4k followers on Instagram, with Katrina Kaif and Jacqueline Fernandez having her cake and eating it too. Juhi believes a cake “is the showstopper of any table.”

Baker Juhi Pahwa’s vegan, gluten-free keto dessert hybrids are simply mouthwatering. Her clients include Aalia Bhatt, Deepika Padukone, Ananya Pandey...

A bestseller is jowar dark chocolate cake. So are her buckwheat pancakes with peanut butter strokes and a nutty organic drizzle, which Kaif and Bollywood fitness expert and influencer Yasmin Karachiwala enjoy the most—going by the constant barrage of Instagram posts of them tucking in. Esha Deol loves the pinatas. Her other celeb clients are Manish Malhotra, Ananya Pandey, Deepika Padukone, Alia Bhatt and Sophie Choudry.

Is her confectionery calorie-free? She laughs, “The Better Binge doesn’t mean a calorie-free binge!” Jowar qualifies as a carbohydrate and carries calories, though in lesser quantities than maida. Pahwa shares, “My options are nut milk, almond flour, and coconut sugar, which tastes just like white sugar but have the lowest glycemic index.

I have healthy versions of hazelnut mousse and vanilla bean sponge cakes.” She is not a fan of dates, but uses date sugar on occasion, for example in candy with golden jaggery powder. Other preferred ingredients are palm jaggery, organic honey, pure maple syrup, flaxseeds, and unorthodox ones such as plant-based protein powders while baking.

Her dark chocolate jowar cake with coconut sugar is one of the bestsellers. Much like her pancakes, brownies and pinatas

Pahwa’s predilection for innovative baking solutions began early in life. “I once replaced Parle-G biscuits with Hide&Seek, which I teamed with milk and microwaved the combo to make my younger sister’s favourite snack when my folks were out. I was only 12 years old,” she recalls.

Shilpi Madan for Sunday Standard

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