Baking, more than any other culinary endeavor, requires a special kind of person. It is not enough to follow a recipe exactly, nor will it do to have a lovely looking treat that tastes sub-par. Bakers need to be lovable, their treats filled with the passion they have for creating a smile on someone’s face. That passion to create a moment of happiness with a sweet treat, is what you can find in one of Kuwait’s newest bakeries, Bibi’s Cakes.
The adorable shop, located just off of the fifth ring road, exudes all thing sugar and nice. It opened almost four months ago as a side project for banker Enass Abdul Aziz Khalifa. Encouraged by her husband, the son of a Kuwaiti baker himself, to share her delicious goodies with the community, Enass created a pink haven of sugary goodness in Salmiya.
“My husband and I are partners in the shop,” Enass told bazaar. “He is always with me. You always need to know the good things in you, and sometimes you need someone to help you with that. I was always afraid to fail but he said try, you have to try.”
As a baker in her own home Enass has scoured the Internet for recipes, followed Instagram accounts and bought many books, some in foreign languages she didn’t understand. One baker she came across was Manuela Kjellen, author of the blog Passion 4 baking. The mother of five has created a name for herself in Norway and around the world for her delectable sweets. When Enass called the most loved blogger in Norway, who is also known as Manuela the Cupcake Queen in her homeland, to ask about an English version of her best seller Love Manuela, she was surprised to find herself talking to the infamous blogger herself.
“I thought when I called her a secretary would answer and put me on hold,” Enass said. “She picked up and said ‘This is Manuela,’ and I was very surprised.” The two women discussed Enass’s business venture and breaking into the world of bakeries. For Manuela, Enass’s story of following your passion was all too familiar.
For Manuela, baking had always come as a recluse in some of the most difficult times in her life. Her first attempt at a cake was at the tender age of 12 after her grandmother passed away during the school year. Manuela and her brother dropped their mother off at the airport, upset that they couldn’t be with her. To brighten their spirits her father presented them with a challenge: he who bakes the highest cake wins. As a young child suffering from dyslexia she misread the recipe and put 12 tablespoons of baking powder in her cake. What resulted was a distasteful but extremely high cake, and the beginning of Manuela’s adventures in baking.
Years later her husband, the sole breadwinner in her home, suffered a tragic stroke that left him unable to continue working. Through the ordeal Manuela continued to bake for her family and community. Her friends insisted she had a talent that should be shared and encouraged her to start a blog. At the time, she didn’t even know what a blog was, so her and her husband did a quick Google search. She found young women with perfect bodies filled the blogosphere. She wanted to do something different, and connect with real women. When it came to naming the blog the avid Oprah fan recalled an episode of the show where the host encouraged her fans to find their passion.
“I told my husband that day, ‘Oprah said find your passion, but I think I am not normal. Every woman has a passion for something but what is my passion?’” said Manuela. “I did not understand my baking is a passion. I said, ‘No, every mom bakes for her children’.”
When the first post went up on May of 2010 it was under the blog title Passion for Baking. Finally in her element, Manuela graced Norway with her delicious recipes, amazing photos and incredible decorations. Within three months she was named the Most Beloved Blogger in Norway and had an offer for a book deal.
Like Enass, Manuela found the support of her husband to be a catalyst for her success. Now after 11 books, over a million Instagram followers and several dozen trips around the world, Manuela finds her passion in teaching others the art of baking with love. Which is why when Enass called her on that fateful day just to get an English translation of Manuela’s best selling book, she jumped at the opportunity to meet this local bakery owner.
For five days Manuela worked with the chefs at Bibi’s Cakes to help them perfect their skills in original Bibi recipes like the chocolate bundt cake and a her own desserts like the fluffy meringue lemon curd cupcakes. Her time with Enass and her staff was emblematic of the owner’s business model of baking with love. The famous blogger may have added a touch of her expertise, but it is the homey feel of Bibi’s Cakes that Enass and her crew have created that will keep you coming back for more. Fall in love from the moment you step out of your car and see the bakery’s front façade that is reminiscent of a corner bakery in your favorite European country. Inside, the comfortable setting welcomes guests with warm pink hues and a staff that is all smiles. Everything about Bibi’s Cakes is created by those who have a passion for baking, to put a smile on your face with delicious treats.
Bibi’s Cakes is located in Salmiya, Block 12, Abdul Karim Al-Khatabi St. Building 16, parallel to the fifth ring road. For more information, call them at 2566 6711 or follow their Instagram @bibiscakes_kw. Check out Manuela Kjellen’s blog www.passionforbaking.com and follow her on Instagram @passionforbaking.