Put to task at the age of just ten to help to create the family’s Christmas cake propelled Rabina Shivraj into a world of baking and decoration and today she has learnt the art of hooking her customers, first with her creativity and secondly with the taste of her creations.
The first time The Scene caught up with Rabina, she was seated upfront at this year’s Miss World Guyana coronation having won herself a ticket. During a conversation, we learnt of her profession. And not being one to just talk about what she does, she quickly followed up this with some photographic evidence of her work.
Although it’s only been two years since she turned her talent into business, Rabina has been doing cakes for interested persons for five years now. However, she also has almost two decades of practical experience of cake baking and has been helping out in the family kitchen ever since.
“I was around ten years old when my mom first asked me to help her bake a cake for Christmas. She gave me little instructions on what to do and when to do it,” Rabina said of her first cake-making experience.
Baking, she shared, has always been a part of her life. Growing up, Rabina had grown accustomed to the aroma of cakes and other goodies emanating from the kitchen and was always excited about the day she’d finally be allowed to bake or cook something. Her mother, she revealed, was a caterer and was always in the kitchen cooking up something. Being the only girl of the family’s two children, her mother expected her to learn the art and there came a time when Rabina no longer mixed ingredients but was allowed to put the pan in the hot oven.
“I remember one time she told me to put the cake in the oven, I was so excited that I turned the heat up so it could finish fast but instead it burnt. Baking with my mom was one of my greatest learning experiences, which also created a bond between us… My mom provided me with the motivation and the love for baking and now with every cake I make I use that same motivation and love added with enthusiasm to create superb masterpieces for my customers,” said Rabina.
According to the cake decorator, back then she knew nothing about icing cakes as that was not one of the things her mother did. She admits that her first solo attempt at creating a cake was not perfect but it was “a good try.” After that, every Christmas, she and her cousin Ramona took up baking in the family. Yet with all the bakers in the family, Rabina had never tasted an iced cake until she was 16.
At that time she had just started teaching at Apex Academy (she actually started teaching when she was just fifteen and three-quarter years old). Having always wanted to have an iced cake for her birthday she bought one, which she shared with the staff there.
All of this time she lived with her parents in Georgetown. She later married and moved to La Jalousie, West Coast Demerara. Their union produced three children: two boys and a girl. While her older son was attending La Jalousie Nursery School five years ago, she heard that someone was going to the school to teach cake decorating. It was an art she had always wanted to learn so she seized the opportunity and went. The course only lasted five days, but she took what she got there and picked up more techniques from YouTube. With constant practice, she excelled and then opened BRIMZ, her business, the name being drawn from the first letters of the names of her husband, herself and her children: Benjamin, Rabina, Isaiah, Mariah and Zechariah.
Cake, she said, is something that is almost always in her home and is usually eaten at snack times though they do get tired of it sometimes. Asked whether this is a skill she hopes to pass on to her daughter, who is now five years old, she said that while it would be good if her daughter someday learns to bake and decorate cakes, she is more focused on her children’s education right now.
Since BRIMZ opened Rabina said work has been pouring in and this means she would have a few cakes to do every week. The highest orders are for birthday cakes, although there are a few anniversaries and a wedding so far. This is the time of the year too, when her workload increases, as parents have additional money to get their children a cake for their birthdays as school is out.
There have hardly been any negative comments, said Rabina; most persons have commended her work.
She excels at sponge, fruit and black cakes, but is yet to master cheesecake; she hopes to tackle this soon.
Last week, Rabina started teaching cake decorating courses at Windsor Forest Primary.
To place orders Rabina can be found at Facebook page BRIMZ Cupcakes&Cakes.