by Iyath Adam
For this year’s first interview article, we have a chat with Hawwa Suzan, or Hawwan as she is known, of Hawwan Cakes.
We discuss her cake-making journey, the buttercream vs fondant debate and her plans for the future!
Lonumedhu: How did you get into baking? And why cakes, specifically?
Hawwan: I think I’ve always been into crafting, and cakes are my canvas. When I was growing up, I saw bakers on TV, the way they were making art with cake, which really fascinated me. Then in 2011, I thought I would give it a try as well and did a basic cake designing course. After that, I started taking orders for friends and family; I was working full-time then, so it started as a hobby. In 2019, after I had to leave my job, I began making cakes full-time. It was very nerve-wracking, but it actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Working from home and making my own hours, while looking after my son, has given me the opportunity to try a lot of new ideas and designs, which I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.
Lonumedhu: What do you enjoy most about baking and the cake making process?
Hawwan: I like the process of baking. It’s very therapeutic for me. Other than that, I really enjoy getting to try new ideas and designs when customers give me creative freedom with their cakes.
Lonumedhu: What flavours of cakes do you offer?
Hawwan: Currently, I have butter, chocolate, red velvet, and lemon cakes on the menu. But depending on the request, I do make allergy-free cakes as well – sugar-free, gluten-free and even egg-free. During Ramadan, I offer other, different flavours as specials like tres leches cake, almond cake, banana bread, lemon blueberry cake and more.
Lonumedhu: What types of cakes do you make the most?
Hawwan: Buttercream cakes, definitely. It’s my best-seller, and I think it’s what I’m known for as well. People who order my cakes do come back again, and alhamdulillah, I’m very grateful for my loyal customers
Lonumedhu: Do you prefer making fondant or only buttercream cakes? Why?
Hawwan: Buttercream cakes now. I started with making a lot of fondant cakes, and I used to make my own marshmallow fondant. But due to an injury to my shoulder, I can’t mix fondant a lot, so I changed my cakes to mostly buttercream designs. And I think buttercream is the new trend now as well, and people prefer it more. There’s so much you can do with buttercream that you don’t even need fondant; you can make any design with it by carving, shaping, piping and even painting on it.
Lonumedhu: What do you pay attention to most when completing orders?
Hawwan: Cake taste, which has always been my number one priority. I always measure out my ingredients on a scale, to ensure that the taste is the same and remains consistent. After that, the cake design will come in.
Lonumedhu: What’s a very memorable cake that you’ve made? Something that you’re very proud of?
Hawwan: A lot of cakes come to mind, actually. But one memorable cake would definitely be a ‘hirigaa’ cake I made. It was entirely made of buttercream with the design carved into the icing, and it’s definitely one of my favourite cakes.
There is also another cake I made for an Indian-themed wedding, in that design. The cake was made from fondant, but with gold-coloured sprinkles placed individually all over the cake. I always remember this design because it took me 3-4 days to complete it, which I re-did from scratch because I wasn’t happy with the initial design as well!
Lonumedhu: Apart from cakes, what else do you like to bake/cook?
Hawwan: I really, really love to cook. And I do bake other things like different types of bread and focaccia too, not just cakes. I like to eat balanced meals – at least 60 percent of the time – so experimenting with dinner options is something I really enjoy doing. Lasagne especially, is something I really love to cook, which is now available on my page as well!
Lonumedhu: Is there an ingredient that you always have to have in your fridge?
Hawwan: Eggs. I almost never run out of eggs, haha. And butter as well.
Lonumedhu: What do you see next for yourself through Hawwan Cakes?
Hawwan: Recently I got the BML grant for small businesses, and I’m planning on opening my own café in a few months which will offer a wider variety of cake flavours, savouries, and allergy-free cakes as well, insha Allah.
For the most part, I would like to be known as a recognisable, loved brand. And within the next five years, I’m planning on releasing a lot of new products under the ‘Hawwan Cakes’ brand. I want to have a wide range of products available in shops as well – to scale up my operations to where I’m not hands-on all the time but can still offer customers my products at the same quality.
Lonumedhu: Anything else you want to add before we end the interview?
Hawwan: Yes, a huge thanks to my family for their continuous support, and to all my clients and followers too. I definitely wouldn’t be where I am now, without them. And some advice for people who are considering doing this – be confident, show up for yourself and always be authentic.
And also, if you haven’t tried my cakes yet, please visit my page and try them!
Lonumedhu: Thank you so much for your time, Hawwan. We wish you wonderful times ahead and good luck on your new adventurous endeavours!
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