A firm believer of innovation and not one to follow fickle trends, Mahmood Janahi is more than just another home based entrepreneur who has converted his passion into a successful business. A glance at @mahmoodjanahicakes on Instagram is enough to know the effort this young man is taking to create the terrific cakes that his customers always want to go back for. This conqueror of cakes finally sat down with Bahrain This Week, giving us a quick recap of his journey to success.
At what age did you make your first cake? For whom did you bake it and how was the experience?
I remember baking my first cake with my grandmother when I was around seven. When we cousins got together we would be running around doing a million things and the only way my grandmother could control us was to give us instant cake mixes she prepared. So my first cake was with the mix she gave me. When I moved to Australia to pursue my studies, I took these mixes with me and used to bake them for my friends. But there was one cheesecake I had made for my friend’s birthday which everyone liked a lot. My friends even suggested that I pursue a career using my skills at baking. But I sidelined it during that time and moved back to Bahrain. It was in 2008, during a colleague’s birthday that I suggested to bake a special cake rather than going to the same place and ordering the same menu. That cake became an instant hit as he had shared a piece with his friends and my colleague asked me for the recipe. Unfortunately during that time, I didn’t have a recipe as all my cake making procedures were out of my love and passion towards baking. That is when one of my friend’s who is an expert in graphic design helped me with a two page brochure with pictures and descriptions about a few items. I sent the brochure to some of my friends and in two hours’ time, I received my first order.
For me, baking cakes is more of a passion than a business. With every passing year, there is a tremendous increase in the number of orders that come to me and sometimes it becomes really difficult to meet the rising demand. Frankly speaking, I am still in love with the career I have chosen and now am in kind of a dilemma about the direction which I should be moving to. Also, I am still working out on perfecting the different aspects of my recipes. Therefore I don’t want to rush but let things take their own course. So for me to go as a fully fledged entrepreneur might take some more time.
How do you decide on new flavours?
I love to experiment with new flavours, especially create fusion between the flavours of the east and the west. Whenever I see a new fruit or a raw material, I think of innovating something unique. I don’t believe in imitating or following something done by others. I agree that I get inspired by different flavours and mixes, but never replicate any for my recipes. The style of baking I follow is to create my own flavours and textures that would stand out in the crowd and never copy from others.
Do you have a count of the number of cakes you have baked till date?
I sincerely don’t have a clue. It has been a while since I have been baking and I believe the numbers should be over a thousand now.
We’ve all had a cake fail or two … can you describe your worst cake disaster?
I think it was while I was working to deliver my first order. Even though I had my recipe and ingredients in place the cake didn’t come out of the oven the way it was expected. I guess I was nervous at that time and was trying to multi task. Unfortunately it didn’t work out well that day but fortunately I have never had another cake disaster since then.
You are an expert cake baker and cake decorator. Which is the tougher of the two?
It is proper baking and decorations together that complete a cake. My designs are usually rustic using fresh berries, citrus and even new flowers. For me, decorating using fondants would be difficult as I usually don’t prefer working with them unless there is an unavoidable requirement.
Yes. I do supply to places like Crave and Al Seeb in Riffa. But other than collaborations, it’s more of direct customers that I cater to.
We understand the cake bakers’ market in Bahrain has some real tough competition going on. What do you think makes you stand apart from your competitors?
I believe in innovating and not imitating. The quality of the product, the taste and the presentation creates the complete package that makes me and my cakes stand apart from others in the market. It is not something made on a commercial scale out of machines but prepared from scratch, made with love and passion. These are cakes made from home but with the professionalism of bakeries.
You can follow Mahmood Janahi on Twitter for your daily dose of treats!