The Better Binge, a passion project by self-taught home baker Juhi Pahwa, has become Bollywood’s favourite. The goodies made in Pahwa’s Bandra home are often served at Katrina Kaif, Ananya Panday, Janhvi Kapoor, Jacqueline Fernandez, Manish Malhotra, Rajkumar Rao and celeb fitness trainer Yasmin Karachiwala’s homes.
What celebrities binge on!
In a phone conversation with us, the cheerful, 31-year old Pahwa reveals what her celebrity clients love the most. Katrina loves her regular Sunday pancakes, Ananya and her mother Bhavana Panday always stock up chocolate cupcakes. Karachiwala loves to feast on everything that comes from The Better Binge’s kitchen. Popular film critic at Film Companion Anupama Chopra likes to indulge in Pahwa’s 65-calorie cupcakes for her 4 pm snacking.
Last month, when Kiara Advani celebrated seven years in the movie industry, it was The Better Binge that was the talk of the party. At the request of the actress’s mother Genevieve, Pahwa whipped up a striking, lilac-hued piñata (hammer) cake that has been a raging trend on the Gram for some time now.
But Pahwa veered away from the typical heart-shaped piñata and instead made a giant cupcake decked with edible flowers, butterflies and macarons. Taking a cue from Advani’s love for chocolate cakes, Pahwa filled the centre of the cupcake with a dark chocolate cake loaded with berries and cherries.
A guilt-free menu
The Better Binge makes white sugar-free, gluten-free, vegan desserts with better ingredients, better taste and even better visuals.
Her bestseller is the Jowar Nutty Bundt cake, which oozes molten chocolate and is topped with berries. Other varieties on her menu include tea cakes, birthday and season-special cakes, keto cupcakes, banoffee pies, panna cotta, tiramisu, avocado mousse and more.
People who love chocolates but are worried of excessive sugar intake can consider Pahwa’s dark chocolate cakes that are light, sin-free and delectable. All of TBB’s chocolate-based cake sponges are made with jowar (sorghum) and Belgian cocoa powder. For the vegan ganache, she uses a luscious blend of almond milk and dark cocoa. “The first cake I tried at home in 2017 had refined flour and sugar. To make it healthy, I tweaked this recipe and replaced the base with jowar, oats, jaggery and coconut sugar.”
A personal touch
Surprisingly, from conceptualising the flavours to baking and frosting to tying the ribbon on the cake and finally putting it in a box, ready to be home delivered, Pahwa does it all by herself.
She says, “I am my only team. I coordinate everything from start to finish. I handle my social media myself too”. She adds, “I’m really passionate about my work and love the process of creating. I want a personal touch to my brand. I feel having a team will make it a money-making business.” On average, The Better Binge sends out 10-12 cakes every day and more on special occassions.
The Better Binge clients are absolute chocolate buffs. “90 per cent of orders are chocolate cakes and 10 per cent of orders are for other fruit-based desserts.” Pahwa avoids doing a lot of fruit desserts that may require additional sweetener, as some fruits don’t have natural sweetness to them. But as for chocolate, she thinks it is a diverse ingredient that can be whipped into a wide range of dessert assortments.
“In fact, for World Chocolate Day, I’m launching a new cupcake menu for the first time.”
However, one thing she thinks she doesn’t have a good hand at and stays away from is making cookies.
Pahwa’s most unique, bold and flavour-laden masterpiece yet has been her own birthday cake that she made in March, this year. “I mixed all my favourite flavours in one cake. I even put it up on my menu for a limited period.” It was a vanilla sponge, generously coated with hazelnut dark chocolate mousse and layered with lots of mangoes, crepe crunch and vegan meringue.
The lockdown boom
When asked about how the lockdown contributed to The Better Binge’s business, Pahwa says, “The lockdown has been a blessing in disguise, not just for me, but for a lot of food and home-based chefs.” People have found comfort in desserts and food in the pandemic.
Currently shipping only in Mumbai, The Better Binge is soon planning to reach people across India. “I get queries from other cities all the time. Recently, a person contacted me from Goa saying that his wife only wants to cut a birthday cake made by me.”
The massive social media boom in the past year has made Pahwa one of the most sought-after home bakers. She begins baking at 10 am and wraps up the last batch by 6 pm. Last month, she celebrated 20k followers milestone on Instagram. “As a person, I like to talk to my consumers and engage with them. So, this combined with my delicious, healthy cakes makes me stand out.”
Top home bakers in Mumbai and Delhi:
Chef Bianca Manik’s sweet labour of love, Blanchett started in 2020 has grown into an impressive dessert business. Her brioche doughnuts that explode with gooey chocolate goodness, cheesecakes, truffles and babycakes have broken the internet in the past few months.
House of Millets by chef Natasha Gandhi
Founder of health-focussed dessert brand House of Millets, Natasha Gandhi whips up some exciting recipes using local ingredients. She was one of the top five contestants on MasterChef India (Season 6). From trendy pull-me up cakes to celebratory hampers, she does it all.
A sugar and gluten-free dessert venture favoured by Athiya Shetty, Pernia Qureshi and many influencers, Moonlight Bakers was started by twin sisters Akshina and Raina Mehta. Their delightful fare features sev-barfi cheesecake tart, gulab jamun cake, hazelnut chocolate fig tart, mango tres leches and paleo pistachio truffles.
Sheetal’s Baked with Love
Favoured by high-ticket clients including Shilpa Shetty and Nita Ambani, Sheetal’s Baked with Love is guilt-free dessert indulgence at best. Popular for its berry and floral-themed cakes, the brand has newly launched its innovative cupcake bouquet baskets.
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