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A slice that lights up Xmas is here

- Hajipur farmer visits town this time every year to prepare cake

If it’s Christmas time, you can expect Haji Ghulam Mustafa to bake a great cake for you. For everything else, there’s Santa Claus.

All year round, the 72-year-old works on his farm in Hajipur. But for 10 days every Christmas, he is in Patna. On Sunday, he was busy taking orders at his Jugnu Bakery.

This annual visit began in 1990. He explains: “I had come to Patna on some work. I went to a bakery to buy a Christmas cake for a friend. Before buying one, I tasted it. It was a disappointment. That gave me this idea, to come up with this cake shop.” He is no untrained hand, having worked for a cake company in Calcutta for a year in 1962. He had to return to his farmland because of some family issues.

Ten labourers work under him. They are from Calcutta and Jharkhand. “I train and give them a test. If they come up with the perfect plum cake, they are in. We use the old, traditional iron shield chimney, baking in wood fire for one-and-a-half hours,” said Mustafa. Perhaps, that is the secret behind the beeline outside his North Mandiri shop.

Angelina Victor, a Patna City resident, said: “I have been coming here for the past 10 years. You are allowed to watch the cake come to life. They take at least 30 minutes to mix 1kg of ingredients.”

“The chimney is made up of iron shield and Chinese bricks. Small wooden pieces are burnt inside for an hour. Once the iron is hot enough, the raw cake is placed inside for three hours,” said Mustafa. They specialise in plain, fruit and plum cakes at Rs 120 a kg. “We provide ingredients but customers can bring their own,” added Mustafa. Edward, from Patna City, who was awaiting his turn, said: “I can wait all day for this cake.”