While growing up, one dessert that always made the cut was Shama's signature chocolate cake — remember the one at Nando's?
Dining at Nando's back in the day was a treat because of THAT cake. Even though the flame-grilled chicken sometimes became a chore to finish, ordering cake was obligatory.
One bite of this moist, decadent chocolate cake with cream frosting was enough to transport us to the heavens and back. And it went without saying that each individual on the table ordered their own slice. Of course we knew one slice was enough for two, and that of course we'd be in a chocolate coma by the time we were done, but one for each and no sharing. That's just how it was.
So when news of the famous 'Nando's-chocolate-cake' lady expanding her menu and opening her own bakery came knocking on our door, we said good-bye to our fitness goals (true story) and immediately bolted for Shama's Bakery's menu. The bakery is currently a home-based operation, but a commercial branch will open soon.
The menu offers limited savoury options, but makes up for it in the extensive sweet selection. How does one decide between Baked Cheesecake and Apple Pie and Mousse Cake and eight other equally appetising options? Biggest dilemma of our lives.
So we settled on the Spinach Quiche for savoury and the Baked Cheesecake and Cinnamon Teacake with Walnuts for dessert. Here's the lowdown of the three:
Baked New York Cheesecake
Good cheesecake is a hard find in the city. Not many bakeries in Karachi can get it right, so when Shama's Bakery suggested we try it, we were a little on the fence about that recommendation. But since we love Shama's baked goods, we trusted them to do a decent job at the very least.
But guess what?
The cake was a total winner! So much so that the entire office finished it within minutes and one staffer even ordered it the next day for her dinner party.
Usually the crusty base and sides of a cheesecake crumble and fall apart when cut into, but this one surprisingly remained firm. The filling also didn't fall apart or did the wiggle when pulled apart. Our only complaint was that the crust tasted a lot like the local Digestive biscuits and we wish there was more to its flavour.
That aside, the ratio of the base and crust balanced with the filling, and the filling was oh-so-good. It was creamy, slightly sweet with a hint of tartness, the way cheesecakes are meant to be.
As our Editor puts it, "I've never had a good cheesecake here and this one's pretty good."
Psst, it tasted even better the next day after being refrigerated!
Cinnamon Teacake with Walnuts
The first thing that hits you is the smell. Oh, the glorious smell of cinnamon.. delicious, heart-warming cinnamon. The cake reached us nice and warm, and like all teacakes, this one too needed the accompaniment of chai.
It was soft and firm when cut into (notice the clean lines) and the best part was the freshness, talk about straight outta the oven.
See the dark swirls in there? That's cinnamon and sugar mixed with walnuts.
The first bite is flavourful, there are hints of cinnamon and the cake is not too sweet. However, it's only a couple of bites later when the mouth tastes the walnuts with the cinnamon that the cake comes full circle. Although teacakes are generally sickeningly sweet, this one managed to balance the flavours right. The cinnamon was subtle and just enough to add a kick to the overall taste.
Our only reservations about this cake were a) that the cake felt a little dry without tea/coffee (but we should add that we were told beforehand to have the cake with chai) and b) we wish there were more walnuts.
The serving size was relatively large (joy!) and could easily feed 4-5 people.
What we loved the most was the ratio of the filling to the pastry. The pastry was neither overwhelming nor did it take away from the cheese and the spinach. And it stayed firm! Hallelujah! It didn't crumble when cut or eaten (we were eating it like a slice of pizza). Bonus points.
The filling of the quiche was creamy and cheesy; the cheese and spinach did not fight in your mouth, rather they complemented each other. But it would have been nice to have one more ingredient thrown into the filling for added flavour and texture.
Also, the pastry towards the middle had gotten a bit soggy by the time the quiche reached us, so that was a bit of a let down.