Cakes are special. Every birthday, the celebration ends with something sweet — most likely, a cake — that people remember. Perhaps, it’s all about the memories.
Cakes are baked and decorated first to make memories and then to make them memorable. It may not be hard to find a good cake-baker but it is rather difficult to find a baker who is very good at decorating cakes artistically at the same time.
Nukhet Dora, a Doha-based Turkish expatriate, loves baking and decorating cakes, cupcakes and cookies. She is actually a sculptor making sculptures out of cakes. For her, it all started as a hobby and has become a passion and a source of joy.
Community recently sat with Nukhet, a civil engineer by qualification and mother of two daughters, and discussed her passion for cake baking and decorating as a hobby.
The expatriate has lived in other Gulf countries with her husband. “We moved to Doha in 2012. Earlier we lived in Dubai and Saudi Arabia where my husband worked. I also worked there as civil engineer.
“After I had my first daughter — who is 16 now — I made a web page updating my experiences of by a mother. It got very famous back in Turkey as number of mothers visited my page and took advantage from my experiences of motherhood. I continued working as a civil engineer till 2009.”
Explaining how her love for cakes started, Nukhet said: “For my second daughter, who is now 13-year-old, I started writing blogs. It was the time and trend for blogs. I witnessed online that many people were busy in doing something different and other than their routine work. I, along with my sister, ran the blog sharing our cooking and baking experiences.
“Through this experience, I came across the cake baking and sugar paste decoration work. As the first birthday of second daughter was coming, I decided to bake my first cake for the birthday in 2007.”
Nukhet taught herself everything about cake baking and decorating. “It is all self-teaching. I got help from books and Internet. Later on, however, to learn decoration, I took some classes with Wilton cooking centre. After I quit my job, I started taking orders to bake birthday cakes. I got really busy with the baking.”
The Turkish expat got her name by beautifully decorating the cakes and giving them different shapes. “I think people started to like the way I decorate and colour my cakes and cupcakes. I started trying new recipes. I got so passionate about baking that people assumed there was always a cake at my home! There were not many people making decorated cakes there (Dubai) at the time. I became kind of famous (laughs) among the expatriate communities.”
Nukhet believes her distinct way of decoration and making sculptors with cakes made her work different. “I brought to the people good sugar paste decoration. I made very neat and clear shaped cakes. I like both baking and decorating. First, I make a sketch in my mind about what flavours or shapes I will give to a cake, and then, I start the process.
“People tell me the special thing about my cakes pertains to the colours I use. I try to make colours look natural and have good colour schemes. Mixing of different colours comes naturally to me. I got it from my father who was an artist/painter. I come from a kind of creative family.”
Nukhet firmly believes in constant learning and improving her work. “In the world, there are many talented cake bakers and decorators. There is so much knowledge as well that I have to attain. I also try to follow some really successful decorators. I never tell myself that I am perfect.”
After mastering the art of cake decoration, she has also started giving training and organising workshops for those interested.
“I started teaching how to bake a cake before I came to Qatar. I have been arranging workshops in Doha for the last seven years. However, I am not very regular. But very often, I get number of orders for birthday cakes.
“I give three classes — for cake decoration, cookies and cupcakes. The basic class is for baking. Then, we go for flowering and then for figuring. I also teach how to make two-tier cakes. As for the decoration, I use sugar paste. I teach students how to make the paste and cream, and how to role it up on the cake. There is layering and creaming process that we do together. I also teach them how to use different tools to decorate a cake.”
Nukhet is happy with the response she is getting from her students. “My classes mostly go on for six hours. I see that mothers are predominantly interested in learning skills. As they do not have six consecutive hours for a class, I divide the classes into three hours over two days. Even the days are not consecutive (for convenience).”
Nukhet believes not everyone can master cake decoration art. “The skill needs some talent to master it. For example, if you are making a birthday cake, they can ask you for a specific shape or character. You have to make such cakes by hand, which needs some sculpture-making talent. You also need to be some sort of a sculptor. I am also planning to take formal sculpture classes.”
She also sees a high demand and interest in beautiful and big cakes in Qatar.
“There are many people here who are more interested in bigger cakes. I bake at home. It is my hobby and not business. I take orders only for family parties and charge only for my ingredients. I bake for my children and for my customers alike.
“I do not plan to turn it into a full time business in the near future as I have a home to tend to. However, I will continue learning about the art as much as I can. I am pushing myself to make cakes of different styles.” Sharing her piece of advice to others, she said: “First of all, they need to have an interest in baking. Then only, they can learn from others. It all starts with little steps. They can grow slowly but steadily.”
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