Written by Marjan Thuthu, photos by Ginger Bakes
If you’ve not heard of Ginger Bakes yet, what you could do right now is find them on social media. You’d be pleased, we promise. Everything they make is drop dead gorgeous, and yes, their goodies taste even better.
Baking those beauties is Shaa (Fathimath Shaadhny) and on one very pleasant evening we caught up with her at the funky coffeehouse Modus Operandi. Below is what we talked about amidst some delectable treats.
Lonumedhu: Lets begin at the beginning. How did it all start?
Shaa: I’ve always loved baking, even when I was very young. And since it’s always been my passion, I eventually decided to make it my profession.
Lonumedhu: Tell me more about the early days.
Shaa: Back then we were doing wedding cakes, dessert tables, and things like that. But we actually did something different too. In Male’ it’s quite usual for a client to pick a cake design or a dessert table off the Internet and expect it to be replicated. But rather than replicating such designs, we let our clients choose a theme, and then we’d present them with three options; that way their cake and dessert table setup would be totally unique.
Lonumedhu: When was this?
Shaa: Probably around 2015 or 16. Something like four years ago. That Ramadan we introduced our assorted dates packs too, which became quite popular. We had chocolate dates, pistachio dates, in pretty packaging, and the response was great. We also participated at the Katti Hivvaru Festival that year. Our stall had bakes, short eats and even pasta and we had this ‘pimp your donut’ bar where people could choose their dips and toppings.
Lonumedhu: I remember your stall from Katti Hivvaru. So what are we having now? This bun is too delicious.
Shaa: That’s a maritozzi, it’s an Italian cream bun; we introduced it just today.
Lonumedhu: So people can just come here to get one?
Shaa: Yes. They can get our blueberry lemon rolls, strawberry cheesecake rolls and orange rolls from here too. It was quite recently that we actually introduced our classic cinnamon rolls here.
Lonumedhu: I see. I notice that you do play around with a lot of flavour combinations that we don’t usually see in the local food scene.
Shaa: I had the idea of experimenting with flavours way back during that Ramadan when we introduced the assorted dates packs. The packs were something different, but people were responsive, so it felt like it could work.
Lonumedhu: Speaking of different flavours, I saw your lemon curd cheesecake as well as your strawberry & chamomile cake on Instagram. Your photography is really on point; they look too beautiful!
Shaa: Thank you! It’s my newfound passion; I get a lot of help from my cousin Ziah on it too. I think people are still a bit hesitant to try out different flavours; especially herbal infusions like the chamomile cake and bakes with fruits. But the orange rolls we have here at Modus have really caught on. So perhaps it takes a bit of time.
Lonumedhu: Yeah, perhaps. So what are the most popular items off your menu?
Shaa: I’d say cinnamon rolls and Nutella donut holes. We get quite a number of orders for the lemon curd cheesecake too.
Lonumedhu: So how do you decide on the flavours and the items you introduce?
Shaa: I always let our close friends sample the food whenever I come up with something new, and I usually end up introducing what they liked best.
Lonumedhu: You guys seem to work with a lot of tangy flavours like lemon.
Shaa: Yeah, that’s because Dhai, my husband loves lemon. So I am often experimenting with it. Plus we both like citrusy flavours. Dhai actually helps me out a lot with Ginger Bakes along with my mum.
Lonumedhu: I see. How’d you learn to bake?
Shaa: I am self-taught; I didn’t do any course as such. When I was younger I used to bake chocolate cakes for my cousins’ birthdays. Even back then though, I didn’t use any premade cake mixes, I did it from scratch. My mum is a baker and when I was little I saw her make some elaborately decorated cakes too. So I got to pick up a lot of tips from her. And YouTube helps a lot along with paid online tutorials. When it comes to learning, a lot of experiments and attempts are usually involved. For example the dough for the cinnamon rolls, I remember making ten batches before I came up with the one we have now.
Lonumedhu: So what’s the most challenging work you have ever done?
Shaa: Well, there was the time I made this seven-foot wedding cake; it had gum paste lilies and four of the tiers were actual cake. It was a month’s work. Actually I couldn’t have finished it without the help from my friend Lene.
Lonumedhu: Wow! Please show me pictures of that later.
Shaa: And there was also the time I had to make 8000 cookies. It was for the ‘Minivan 50’ celebrations. So the cookies had to have the logo and all. Dhai and myself stayed up for four days working on it. A lot of our friends showed up to help us too and my mum would be making food for all of us and all; it was tough but really fun.
Lonumedhu: Sounds like good times! We’ve sadly arrived at the end of our interview. So how about we wrap things up by talking about what’s next for Ginger Bakes?
Shaa: I’ve been thinking about opening a café, with comfortable seating and all, a bakery style café from where you can get fresh breads and bakes along with coffee, and meals of course.
Lonumedhu: Oh! I shall look forward to that then. Thanks so much Shaa, I really enjoyed this chat and especially the yummy food.