Houston-based Indian cake artist, Hemu Basu, is a newsmaker. She won the Halloween Wars on Food Network for making the scariest cake, ever. She's also the winner of Cake Artist of the Year Award 2020, by the Houston Baker’s Guild.
Indian women around the world are making a mark with their unusual success stories, and Basu is one of those making waves in the culinary world by sculpting cakes into artwork. But, taking part in reality television cake wars is tough. Basu has been baking cakes for nearly a decade and specializes in artistic cakes that can verge on the photo-realistic. She also runs a cakery called the Sweet Sensation.
“I’m a self-taught cake artist and kept stumbling on amazing cake decorating recipes,” she says. “I started competing in the cake competitions in 2016, and I have won prizes in cake decorating. I participated in the Food Network TV competition on the “wedding cake championship” season two. Baking cakes gives me immense happiness. There’s a very large baking community in the US, so breaking into this niche segment wasn’t easy.”
Here's everything else the cake sensation revealed during our one-on-one with her.
Cake Inspiration Basu’s foray into baking began with the search for the best birthday cake recipe for her kid. "In November 2012, for my son’s birthday, I went to the library to see if I could get a book on birthday cakes. I found, Birthday Cakes for Kids by Annie Rigg and decided to make a fire truck cake for my baby,” she says. “It turned out amazing! That was my first cake, and that’s how I found rediscovered my passion for art in the form of cakes."
Becoming a global sensation Since 2012, Basu has come a long way in her journey, and is quite well-recognised in baking circles, not only in Houston but around the world. The credit for this not only goes to her hard work at Sweet Sensation, but also through her incredible performances in reality shows and by getting recognised by institutions like the Baker’s Guild of Houston. "Winning or being nominated for an award is special. It feels incredible to have your efforts recognised by people outside of your day to day life. Any award would be validation of and vindication of the tireless work that has gone into my art,” she says.
And there is immense power in what she does, especially for women. “Hard work, integrity, enthusiasm, passion and perseverance gets you closer to your goals,” Basu says. “When I made Durga in a cake form and it won the That Takes the Cake Show, I dedicated my win to the women. You can make powerful statement with cakes."
Cake Art is a spiritual experienceFor many, cakes signify a sweet treat that can make occasions special. For Basu, creating cakes and cake art is something more. “Creating edible artwork gives me the same calm and joy as you get when you visit any spiritual place or temple,” she explains. “Baking makes me happy and the goodies delight everyone.”
There are many things her passion for cake art has taught Basu. “Don’t be afraid to try something new, failure is an option and a learning experience! You have to learn from failure. What could you do differently in a similar situation? Is there a way to recover in the moment? Icing does wonders for broken cakes. What’s your icing in this situation? I pretty much approach my whole life like that,” she says. So, what’s the mantra that she follows in life? “Follow instructions but stray when you need to, I have a structure, but I bend when I need to,” she says.
"Doing what I love and being authentic whilst I do it. We all require meaning in our life and I believe you are successful when you have found that purpose and commit your life to it.”