Come Diwali, the thought of gifting comes to mind. The festival of light entails, days of sending gifts to friends, family and colleagues. And what’s sweeter than a box of scrumptious sweets. It’s no secret why Cadbury’s ‘Celebration’ sales go through the roof during Diwali! When it comes to Diwali gifting in Bhubaneswar, people are mostly confined to gift hampers/gift boxes containing a range of ‘traditional’ options. While most of us grew up with the idea of gifting and eating sweets and dry fruits during any festival, you now have the option to taste and gift motichoor cheesecakes, Mexican desserts and handmade chocolates. Since the recent past, Bhubaneswar has been playing host to dessert curators who are offering something completely new for their customers.

This Diwali, Ootkal reached out to three amazing and innovative home bakers who are raising the bar in Bhubaneswar by curating food hampers/gift boxes that have unique options which will not just surprise you but also leave your friends and family delighted.

Who are these bakers and what goes in their hampers?

According to Sushree Pani of ‘True Loaf Patisserie’, “We take our sweet time in speaking with our clients and understanding the flavour profile they prefer. Accordingly, we customize the hamper to make it an enjoyable experience. Recently, we customized one with completely Indian flavours starting from Motichoor Cheesecake- a fusion dish to Jantikilu- a telugu snack. Another one was full of goodies made with jaggery, oats, whole wheat and stevia to gift a person avoiding sugar. We go beyond our limits to make sure what goes in the hamper has top notch quality and adheres to the one consuming it.”

Adding a special touch to her recipes, Abhipsa Patnaik the passionate homebaker from ‘The Dessert Lab, Bhubaneswar’ states, “Each and every item in my hamper is unique. I have either given it a fusion twist or introduced my late Nani’s recipes. Every item was specially curated keeping in mind the festive season”

When we think of sweets, can chocolates be far behind? The talented Chef Sanna Gugnani from ‘The Bake Story La Passion’ and an alum from the famous Le Cordon Bleu, Paris adds, “I’ve tried to make my menu and hampers special by offering different flavours and different types of desserts that wasn’t available here before. Everything was made from scratch and by hand. That’s the beauty of it. For example our chocolates are made from scratch and we didn’t touch a compound chocolate to make our work easier, we used pure chocolate and tempered it ourselves to create those little pieces of happiness.”

What inspired them to start the genre of curated gifting in Bhubaneswar?

Being professionally trained, Sanna from The Bake Story La Passion felt that it was her duty to make people of Bhubaneswar experience something more than just a festive hamper.

She says “It helped me challenge myself and pushed me harder towards creating something unique. I just had one goal: I didn’t want to create hampers or menu, I wanted to create an experience that people would remember.”

True Loaf Patisserie wanted to take that extra step to brainstorm ways to spread the festive cheer in this tough year. “When we decided on making a hamper, we thought of indianizing the concept. Hence we introduced our specialties infused with desi flavours, says Sushree. “Since most of our hampers would go to families with all age groups, we made sure we included something for everyone’s taste buds.”

She further adds, “The trend of hampers already existed in Mumbai where I lived for several years, but people generally bought hampers with store bought goodies in them. That gave us the idea into curating one entirely with handmade tidbits and introduce it here. The whole motive was to be a one stop shop for everything’s someone’s looking for in this season. ”

Abhipsa from The Dessert Lab who puts in a lot of research into curating her hampers states, “I have always loved giving and receiving hampers. It just makes any occasion a bit more special. I started making hampers as more and more people are now interested in sharing their love through hampers.”

TLP further adds, “Owing to the wrath of the virus, more and more people have switched to buying homemade, where they can trust the hygiene and quality. Plus it’s an added touch of emotion when you know where and how everything you’re paying for is made which definitely makes it more special.”

Challenges: First Covid and then the market

The three bakers faced a variety of challenges in the pandemic, right from uncertainty to difficulty in getting ingredients. However, with the support and love of the people of Bhubaneswar, they are determined to create safe, hygienic and memorable dessert experiences for their clients.

Sanna further adds, “It was a very big challenge to market these products as they’re very artisanal and also on the pricier side. Plus each dessert had 2-3 elements to it. Initially I thought it was a crazy idea as all I saw around was people doing regular hampers and when I saw my menu I was nervous. I had broken a trend of hampers in the market which scared me. But I’m glad slowly word of mouth and regular clients helped us run the show and it was beyond successful.“

What are their signature dishes that you must try?

For The Dessert Lab, their signature dish is Rasmalai flavoured Tres Leches. Tres Leches is a Mexican dessert in which the cake is soaked in a three milk mixture and Abhipsa has given it a twist of her own by flavoring it as a Rasmalai. It is their hot selling product that will simply make you drool.

For True Loaf Patisserie their signature product is the Lemon and Saffron sponge which they load with pistachios and roses. They also drizzle it with their special white chocolate and cardomom glaze on special requests from customers. It took them a month to come up with the loaf because they honestly don’t know what can represent Diwali more than these colours and flavours.

What do they have in store for you for the New Years?

If you are dreaming about having the perfect liquor chocolates, rum cakes, gingerbread men and eggnog, True Loaf Patisserie has a treat awaiting you during Christmas and the New Year.

They are constantly looking for innovative ideas to spruce up the festive vibes and want to brush that into their amazing menu.

The Dessert Lab will be making hampers and baskets for Christmas and New Year with a western touch to their already decadent desserts.

The Bake Story La Passion wants to keep you guessing as they are busy with the trials of a truly special dessert experience. Chef Sanna states, “If the trials are successful it’ll be something super special.”

These amazing bakers need the support to give that perfect dessert experience to people in the temple city. Not just Diwali, but many other celebrations will be made sweeter by the creation of these truly talented bakers. So, show them your love and immerse yourself and your loved ones in a memorably sweet experience.

To see what the these Baker’s are up to, check out @TrueLoafPatisserie, @TheBakeStoryLaPassion and @TheDessertLab