Pastry-chef Rajkumari Pintu Devi runs the one-man-army bakery Cream and Frost. Famous for it’s simple, elegant and scrumptious cakes, Pintu completed her Diploma in Pastry and Baking from Singapore after she graduated in Philosophy from Delhi. Since then there is no looking back for this health and fitness enthusiast!
Born to Rajkumar Binoy Singh and Mangala Rajkumar Ongbi, Pintu worked at Hotel Amara and initially wanted to set up her business in Delhi. However, her love for the homeland brought her back and started her own bakery under the name Cream and Frost. In a tete a tete with ManipuriWeddings, she shares about her experience and work. From making a huge career shift to becoming one of the favourite bakers in town, Pintu is sure to inspire many generations to come!
MW: First of all, we first saw you on Instagram and instantly fell in love with your presentation style. So, did you always want to be a baker from the beginning?
Pintu: Thank You. And No. Not exactly from childhood but yes, I loved watching my aunt bake using pressure cooker (Laughs), as oven was not that common in those days. Later on, when I completed my graduation, the passion for baking overtook me and that’s when I decided to go down this lane.
MW: So tell us about your journey, how did you land up here.
Pintu: I was always interested in taking up arts stream after my 10th Std. And after completing my 12th it was just plain easy thinking it would be Philosophy for me to graduate in as my dad was one of a big time Philosophy student. But later as I stayed in Delhi my interest in cooking and baking grew more and I got more time to practice baking with the help of Youtube. But there were lots and lots of trials and errors and also lots of “STRAIGHT AWAY TO DUSTBIN” baking too… hahaha…
But I was serious about taking up baking at this point on. And I started to look for some good culinary schools in Singapore as my elder brother and cousins were working and studying there. So again, with the help of Internet and hours and hours of searching I finally found out about The Shatec Institute in Singapore, read through their brochure found out about the course I was interested in. Then in a zap, gave my Skype interview and viola! I got through.
MW: Then Cream and Frost happened thereafter? The name is so apt.
Pintu: Well! While I was pondering over the name, many suggestions came my way. For instance some suggested I should name it after someone’s name or things but I had made up my mind to keep it different. Then it struck my mind that most of the bakers when we bake a cake our favourite part is creaming and frosting so that’s where I got the idea from and it was named Cream and Frost.
MW: When did you get your breakthrough as a baker?
Pintu: It was when one of my friends, Ningting Kamei who ordered a birthday cake. Even though I kind of warned her about the limitations of the raw materials, she happily agreed to all the odds and ask me to just go on with it. That was one cake which gave me a lot of publicity and slowly orders started coming in through her.
MW: So from birthday cakes to wedding cakes, it was a natural progression. Which was your first wedding cake?
Pintu: Yeah sort of but my first wedding cake was for a cousin at Ningthoukhong. It is quite a distance from my bakery and was a 6 kg Blueberry Cake which was quite a huge one to transport.
MW: We saw that one and it was exceptionally executed and simply beautiful.
Pintu: Thank you. Fortunately, everything went alright.
MW: So during the wedding season how many order comes to you on an average?
Pintu: Around 4 orders per month, but since I am a one man army (Ha ha) it quite a lot for me. As you see a single wedding cake requires a tremendous amount of preparations before and after the baking. I may take more when my bakery grows but for now, 4 is a huge number.
MW: Has there been a time when you have to drop a few orders? How do you handle those?
Pintu: Ummm… It’s really hard to turn down people not for any other reasons but I feel like I am turning down their love for me and my bakery. I try and explain to them about my situations and they do understand. Also, I always promised them to take their orders whenever I am ready. I think it’s not only for me but any other bakers too.
MW: How far in advance do we need to order the wedding cake?
Pintu: It will depend on the design; however, I’d suggest maximum 3 weeks and a minimum of 2 weeks before the big day.
MW: How does the pricing for a cake work?
Pintu: Hmmm… The standard market price for the base is the same everywhere but the difference lies in the toppings. Sometimes, some cakes requires heavy manual work, that’s when the charges gets higher but other than that the simpler ones are priced the same as the standard price of the cakes.
MW: Most weddings require a delivery and setting up of the cake. Do you provide delivery and setting up cakes?
Pintu: No, I don’t have that service for the time being. The cakes are put together at the bakery itself and the client picks it up but yes! I do give them necessary instructions.
MW: So working in an environment like Manipur, what is your expectation from your clients?
Pintu: I meet different types of people. Some knows every bit of details and some don’t. I do give and take suggestions to and from the client to give them the best at an affordable price but I also expect them to understand my condition and the usual business scenario we are working with. Fortunately, I have had very understanding clientele.
MW: What kind of struggles do you face as a baker and a pastry chef?
Pintu: As you see in Manipur, the problem is mostly getting the raw material at an affordable price. Yes, I did face a lot of problems getting them. Of course, the basic necessary ingredients are available but other extra ingredients like the fondant and icing is a little tricky. Luckily so far the conditions of bandhs and blockades is way better than what it was before so I feel a bit relieved.
MW: So do you have any favourites? One of your favourite wedding cakes you’ve made so far.
Pintu: It’s not like I don’t like others but I had this favourite which was made in ombre shades.
MW: What’s your dream assignment? Is there a particular cake or theme you would like to try in the near future?
Pintu: As of now I don’t have any particular cake design or dessert bar that I would like to try but I only have one dream work and that is to work along side Jordan Rondel hahaha… If ever I get a chance that is…
MW: This is obvious now. So who’s the baker you look upto?
MW: What advice would you like to give to those who are aspiring bakers and pastry-chef?
Pintu: I would like say that it’s not only for bakers but every other field that if you love doing something, do it, give it a try. Try until you get what you want. If you try you’ll surely find happiness and jot in it, that’s what I believe in.
MW: Lastly, any message for your well wishers.
Pintu: I would like to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart for their support and encouragement throughout; for loving me and my work and for trusting me. I am nothing without your love and support. I will try my level best to give you the best possible cakes every time!
And to my parents who have been supporting me ever since I decided to take up this career.
MW: Thank you Pintu. It’s been a pleasure.
You can follow @creamandfrost on Instagram for the latest update!
This interview was executed by Nikita Laipubam for ManipuriWeddings. You can also find Excerpts of the interview on her blog The Personage.