Since 2012, Prachi Dhabal Deb, a world-renowned Royal Icing Artist from Pune, has worked as a cake artist. Due to her crisp and exact artistry and a great eye for detail, she has mastered the art of crafting royal-looking, rich bakes that are spectacular in appearance and exquisite in taste. Recently Prachi made it to the World Book of Records, London holding two records – the biggest vegan royal icing structure (6 feet 4 inches length, 4 feet 6 inches height, and 3 feet 5 inches width weighing 100 kgs) and the maximum number of vegan royal icing structures.
She has earned the title of "Queen of Royal Icing." Her flawless execution of the thin but evenly spaced strings of royal icing extension work is a piece of art in and of itself, drawing influence from various art forms across the world.
Royal icing is one of the most traditional and versatile cake decorating mediums, although it can be challenging to work with due to its fragility and lack of commercial popularity. Prachi created the egg free vegan royal icing and the same is available as a commercial product in India and across the globe in association with Sugarin. Prachi has always been enthralled by the beauty and elegance of Indian, Victorian, and European architecture, and her most famous work is the Milan Cathedral.
Prachi explains how she uses famous components, their grandeur, and regal aesthetics to create a perfect balance of beauty and taste:
Who is your global role model in terms of cake artists, and what about them most inspires you?
Sir Eddie Spence, MBE, is my royal icing role model. He is a true legend in the field and an inspiration to many of us. It was because of his work in royal icing that I became interested in this art form and pursued a career in it. Nicholas Lodge, Alan Dunn, Karen Portaleo, and others are some of the other greats in the cake industry who continue to inspire us. Their artistry, devotion, and enthusiasm for their job serve as powerful motivators and inspiration.
What does the future hold for Indian baking?The market is diverse, and the industry is huge. Baking is already a well-established and culturally significant industry around the world, and Indian bakers and cake decorators are making a name for themselves.
What inspired you to seek a career in baking?
Baking was never something I planned to take up as a career option. I was always fascinated with fancy-looking cakes ever since I was a child. My aunt had given me a tiny oven to enhance my passion at the time. However, I decided to pursue a career in finance instead. Our family, like many others, was interested in food and the culinary world, and food has always been a topic of discussion in our living room. As a result, I began to experiment with home baking and cake decoration as a hobby, and I was finally inspired by the creative qualities of the work. I was then mentored by people like Sir Eddie Spence in the United Kingdom, who inspired me to pursue a career in royal icing.
What is your oldest or favourite cake-baking or-decorating memory?
Baking a cake or cupcakes was one of my favourite vacation pastimes when I was younger, but I never considered it a job. My aunt gave me a baking set as a gift when I was 10 years old because of my excitement and curiosity.
What’s your inspiration behind the designs?
The floral arrangements, exquisite embroideries are inspired by the Mughal and European constructions; and contemporary designs on the cakes draw inspiration from architectural and apparel designs from throughout the world. I did recreate some of the famous paintings, embroidery, and architectural aspects on cookies and cupcakes.
Tell us about your experience working on the cake structure - the Milan Cathedral.
The planning and preparation took a long time, and then piping all the components, which numbered over 1500, and assembling them took about a month. Every facet of this construction has presented a challenge, but I've thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it. The dimensions of the same are as follows: 6 feet 4 inches in length, 4 feet 6 inches in height, and 3.5 feet in width. The entire construction uses vegan royal icing and weighs over 100 kilograms in weight.
What inspired you to create the vegan royal icing?
Traditional royal icing is created using eggs, which is necessary for its strength. Because of the level of effort that is required to elegantly use this material as a decorative element, royal icing was deemed a dying art. That’s when I thought of coming up with an eggless cake topped with royal icing, which would appeal to the Indian market. I collaborated with Sugarin to create my own version of the Vegan Royal Icing, which is now accessible on various online platforms. The response and reception for this product have been overwhelmingly good and encouraging in India and around the world, with many individuals aspiring to a vegan lifestyle.
What has been the most fascinating project you've worked on so far?
Since I keep challenging myself, the answer to this question may evolve over time. As it stands, my most extensively constructed project to date is the Royal Icing Milan Cathedral inspired replica that I recently completed.
What effect has social media had on your industry?
Social media platforms are extremely strong and powerful tools for reaching out to many people, sharing, and exchanging your work and creative concepts. It has been a lifesaver for so many of us, especially during the lockdowns. Many collaborations, events, workshops, and even online-based buying of baked delicacies have been made possible, thanks to these online platforms. It helped to keep the cake and baking industries, as well as many other businesses and occupations afloat. However, as strong tools, these platforms necessitate greater maturity and tolerance, requiring users to exercise caution when using them.
What is next for you?
I want to keep exploring new approaches and components, honing my talents and craft. One of my main goals is to promote royal icing art and assist in the expansion of this medium's presence in the cake and baking industries.