Sherina Binwani, founder of Baked by Sher, tells the story of opening a new business during a pandemic and how her life has since changed.
What do you do and how did you get into the industry?
I have been baking since the age of 12. My dad had bought me a beginners’ cookbook from one of his trips to London back in the 80s. Being born and brought up in Jakarta, Indonesia, we didn’t have much access to English books, let alone cookbooks. I started baking strawberry shortcakes, homemade sugared doughnuts, pancakes, butter cakes, etc. I remember the doughnuts being burnt and hard, but my grandparents and parents ate them during tea and said that they were yum. I was actually surprised, but their words were full of encouragement. We also entertained a lot at home. As I got older, mom would leave the dessert selection for me to prepare while she handled appetisers and the main course. I used to make pineapple souffle, tiramisu and chocolate biscuit cake; the queen’s favourite dessert.
The whole baking business set up was actually done by both my children. Venaya and Krishay prepared the menu (all their favourite cakes). Venaya set the brand name and Instagram account as well. I didn’t have time to manage this as I would be in the kitchen or out stocking up on baking supplies. They have been my biggest supporters along with my husband, Vijay, who are part of my tasting team along with some friends.
How has life changed after COVID-19?
I travelled a lot with my previous work, running a wellness retreat in Bali. I was in Bali every month to manage the business as well as going to other countries attending travel fairs to market it. It was exhausting, even though I love travelling. I miss it, but baking has kept me home, so I am with the family a lot more. I am enjoying spending time with them,.
What’s your favourite cake and beverage pairing?
From my list of cakes, the orange poppy seed and almond cakes go really well with TWG Silver Moon tea. The basque burnt cheesecake and tiramisu go beautifully with a glass of sauvignon blanc from Marlborough.
Share with us a story from behind the scenes.
I was in the middle of prepping burnt cheesecake, and a piece of eggshell fell into the bowl filled with the ingredients. It slipped and sank right to the bottom. There was no way to even look for it. Stressed, but I went ahead, mixed it all together, as I poured the mixture into the baking pan, I was pouring it, drop by drop, but it didn’t help. I left the cake for a few mins before baking it, and the shell floated up on its own. I found it hilarious but figured, I would have kept it for the home if I had not.
The perfect day off for Sherina Binwani would be…
… putting my legs up and enjoying Netflix sipping my latte after my morning workout.
How do you stay inspired?
I enjoy reading up on baking and exploring different recipes. I then make my own notes and recipes. I have some ideas, and I do test runs.
A day in the life of Sherina Binwani is…?
As a home baker, I am the head chef, sous chef, cashier, delivery coordinator, packing department as well as coordinator of the order sheet. Basically, I have a lot of hats to wear and juggling them along with my usual home duties.
What was your experience opening this business during a pandemic?
Starting this before Raya during MCO was tough as I would drive to the supply store, stand in the long queues to shop for ingredients in a store I wasn’t familiar with. A lot of my time went in waiting. So I would start my days as early as 6 am to fit in my exercise, baking prep, packing prep, delivery list and baking.
What’s in store for you in the upcoming months?
I am testing some new flavours and textures such as a range of milk cakes as well as the hummingbird cake. So stay tuned as I will be launching a new range of cakes very soon. These are a must-try.