In Time for Valentine's: Heavenly Home-Baked Cakes
I love it when I stumble across a new foodie discovery in Beirut. Honestly, I cannot believe how much inspiration and self-initiative is bouncing around in this city, and it’s especially noticeable on the gourmand scene.
Last week, I was tagged in a photo on Instagram of a luscious carrot cake batter in mid-preparation. I chimed in with my admiration, and before I knew it, the ladies behind the baking insisted on sending me one of their fine cake specimens. I couldn't resist!
Farah Malhas and Joy Zahar founded the boutique home bakery “From Grandma with Love” a mere six months ago, though they’re anything but amateur. They craft 7 varieties of cookies, 11 cakes, 5 cheesecakes, and 4 other desserts including brownies, lazy cake, donuts, and date delights. Cookies and other bites go for a $1 a pop (minimum order is a dozen); cakes serving 12-15 are $35; and cheesecakes serving 15-17 are $50.
Get a whiff of the menu description for their carrot cake:
“A cake filled with texture and color. Superbly moist, aromatic in nature, and lathered with a layer of cream cheese icing.” (can be ordered plain or with pecans and raisins)
Trust me—that imagery is spot on. Farah and Joy hand-delivered the hefty parcel to my office building during the early afternoon, and I was swept away with the homey feel of the brown recycled-paper packaging: a flap-top box secured with a tweed cord, and crimson wax seals affixing the delivery tag and menu to the package. Scrawled in cursive on the label is the bakery’s name “From Grandma with Love,” and on the reverse: “Made by Happiness, Delivered with Joy.” My guess is the tagline incorporates the names of both ladies, Happiness being Farah, and Joy, well, that’s self-evident!
The menu is extremely professional and reads like a gourmet’s own musings. There’s even a brief bio that elaborates on the inspiration behind FGWL, which is a tribute to Grandmother Afaf and her love of “all things sweet.” Afaf means “virtuous, decent, and pure” in Arabic, and the bakery holds itself to those standards in all activities undertaken at FGWL.
Now onto the bundle of joy that arrived at my door. It honestly transported me back to childhood Christmases, when I’d tear open a present with unabashed eagerness and anticipation. The cake has a homemade aura about it, with copious amounts of tangy cream cheese icing and crushed pecans slathered delicately on the face of the bundt. It weighs a couple kilos, so you know it must house quite a bit of grated carrot!
Cut a slice and savor the cake: it’s textured and spiced without being heavy and sinful. It packs subtle hints of cinnamon and carrot that wonderfully complement the cool frosting. And you immediately sense that this cake has been crafted liberally with premium, fresh ingredients and a huge dose of passion.