Pallavi Sheth has been baking since she was nine years old, when she first experimented with a homemade pound cake – and she's been obsessed with the hobby-turned-career ever since. Sheth has taken her favourite sweet recipes to new highs from her flagship store in Mumbai which opened in 2013 to her Hong Kong outpost in 2019. Sheth now operates two well-loved bakeries to spread the love and cheer of nostalgic desserts, for any age, any occasion. From photogenic rainbow cakes to interactive DIY baking sets, I Love Babycakes keeps one thing in mind in all its curations – a quintessential, homemade touch. We speak with Sheth on how she started the bakery, her top skills learned in the process and her recipe for success.
What is the story behind the name 'I Love Babycakes'?
“I Love Babycakes” is a name that is very close to my heart. About 17-18 years ago, I lived in New York. I love the way the term “Babycakes” is used very commonly there as a term of endearment. The word stuck in my head and I wanted to incorporate it into my brand (whenever I was ready to start it). That would be the first part of the story behind the name. The second would be the fact that we start our cakes from a very small size, literally 4-inch cakes that can sit on the palm of your hand. We actually call this line Babycakes. That would be the second part of the story behind the name.
What are some core skills that you've learned as a baker?
I am essentially a self-taught baker and baked my first pound cake when I was nine years old. I have been in love with baking ever since. The recipes that are on our menu have been developed over the years and are mostly simple, time-honoured classics like red velvet or carrot cake, for example. A skill that I think I picked up along the way over years of experimentation would be to determine how an ingredient, no matter how basic it may be, contributes to the taste of the final product. That allows me to tweak our recipes to arrive at flavours which we take pride in. Other than the standard requirements of attention to detail and patience (which I believe sometimes I could do with a little bit more of), another skill would be to combine the creative element with the classic flavours to create something novel.
You operate your business in Mumbai, where your company was founded, and in Hong Kong, where you live now. How do you find balance in operating in both countries so successfully and what are the challenges?
I started my business in Mumbai in 2009 and launched my brand in Hong Kong in January 2019. Initially, I would travel to Mumbai every 3-4 months to make sure things were running smoothly. A year later, COVID happened which unfortunately made travel difficult. Despite not travelling to Mumbai since September 2019, I take great pride in saying that Babycakes, Mumbai has been up and running 7 days a week through the pandemic other than a two-month break at the very start.
I can safely say that this would not have been possible without my Mumbai team, who are extremely dedicated and take pride in a strong work ethic and close attention to the quality of the final product. This makes it possible for me to focus on growing the brand in Hong Kong, despite the challenges of the current environment. Despite it being an extremely tricky time, I am quite pleased with where Babycakes as a brand is at, in a very short span of time.
What's something you love about baking?
Hard to pick one, since I love everything about it. But I think I love incorporating the creative element into the science of the baking process. The joy that the final product brings to the client is an added bonus!
Can you share with us your top three recommendations at I Love Babycakes?
I wish you asked me to name 5. But if I were to pick three, I think they would be our classic carrot cake, our red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and our rainbow cake with traditional buttercream. I think I can also safely squeeze in our homestyle chocolate cake into this list.
What's next for I Love Babycakes?
I love this question. We love to share the joys of baking, as is evident in our DIY baking kits and the in-person baking classes at our Hong Kong kitchen. The idea is to bring more and more people into the creative process by baking with many more and of course growing the business with baking for many more. We are also in the process of exploring franchising options with people in different cities, who are passionate about baking and want to adopt the brand along with its fun, creative personality and give it a twist of their own. The vision is to extend the reach of the brand while holding on closely to its ethos of fun, creativity, passion and flavour.
I Love Babycakes Hong Kong, 15 Lung On Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, +852 9682 0215
I Love Babycakes Hong Kong, 5A, Block 2, Pacific View 38 Tai Tam Road, Stanley, +852 96820215
I Love Babycakes Mumbai, 462, Sane Guruji Marg, RTO Lane, Tardeo, Mumbai, India, 8080809585