From passion to profession is their mantra. Kate Ginn meets the Cake Mamas of Muscat who are baking up a storm
Hearing Nadiya Khan describe the intricacies of decoration and icing, it’s clear for all to see that this is a devotion that runs deep.
Her business partner and friend, Shatha al Saleh, shows photographs of their work – elaborate cake designs from a replica Porsche car to Disney-themed affairs.
The two ladies, who started their own business almost five years ago in a villa kitchen, have taken the craft of cake making to a new level with their sumptuous and tasty creations adorning tables at events across Muscat and beyond.
Go to a birthday party or anniversary celebration and you could well be tucking into a cake made by Cloud9 The Bake Studio.
“It was an accidental discovery really,” says Nadiya. “Shatha and I have been friends since we did our Masters.
“I was having a few issues in my personal life and she would come round and listen to me talking while I was making a cake. Baking was very therapeutic.
“Then, we started making cakes together.”
Shatha admits that at first her culinary skills were somewhat limited.
“I didn’t even know how to switch on an oven, for me the kitchen was never my area,” she laughs. “But I was inspired by Nadiya. She’s the person who had the talent.”
For fun, the two women started putting up photographs of their labours in the kitchen on Facebook. When friends began asking if they took orders, their cake company was born.
Both were juggling jobs – Nadiya at Majan College and Shatha in marketing with Shell – with their expanding business. Nadiya also had the pressure of being a mother of two children.
Their expertise is much in demand. On average, they receive 10 to 15 calls a day wanting an order.
Making the actual sponge cake is the “easy part”, according to Nadiya. The hard work starts with the decoration. It can be anything from a simple “Happy Birthday” icing to complex cakes, which can take weeks to complete. They even made a 3D fondant decoration for one bake.
Fondant – a type of icing – is worked like a piece of dough and can be shaped and sculpted into designs, rather like clay. There are even special tools, such as a cutter, which can be used to make features on fondant figures like cheeks or eyes. It’s like artists at work, rather than bakers.
From dinosaurs to electric sockets, and Mickey Mouse to cupcakes decorated with sugar babies, the magic they can create has no limits.
“We are emotionally connected to each cake,” says Nadiya. “Each one is made with love.”
Cloud9 has now opened a café next to Muscat Private Hospital in Bawshar, where customers can buy, or place an order for, cakes, cupcakes and macarons. Big plans include cooking classes and speciality breads.
To see some of their amazing creations, log on to Instagram @cloud9thebakestudio
* Makes 20 bars