Inside a ‘Koekedoor’ Kitchen

"It's in my blood, psyche, clothes."

“It’s in my blood.” Photo: Myburgh du Plessis

Many surprises greet one in Kanya’s Hunt’s Melkbosstrand kitchen. There’s generosity and the admission that the elfin  Koekedoor  contestant eats cake every day. “At least a slice or two cup cakes. I run and cycle a lot so that I can eat cake, she explains.” It is the first of a series of happy surprises.

‘It is in my blood, psyche, clothes’
Kanya credits her family line of kitchen goddesses with putting her on the road to baking. Her very first memory is of a pink cake, or maybe it was a blue cake. No, it was pink, most certainly, she decides. She was four years old when she baked it with the help of her father in the family’s kitchen in Klerksdorp. She smiles ruefully, remembering her mother’s horror on seeing the chaos.

Kanya’s opted for order
Kanya’s kitchen on the Atlantic Beach golf estate is rather orderly, with areas allocated for baking, doing chocolate work, and reading the piles of cookbooks she has collected. (This is where a degree of happy chaos comes in.) Her assistants Tandeka Rengo and Norinkie Base go about their tasks calmly. Tandeka does the baking, leaving Kanya free to do the chocolate work for which she has become famous. “I bake for pleasure or in order to experiment,” she explains. “It is in my blood, psyche, clothes.”

Sometimes the angels look away

Dreamboat. Photo: Kanya Hunt

Signature tower wedding cake. Photo: Kanya Hunt

Baking is hard work. A wedding cake can take anything from 3 days to two months to complete. And here’s another surprising statistic. The ingredients are costly. Kanya uses R1000-R1500 worth of Belgian chocolate per cake. She also uses Belgian marzipan, cream and real fruit. Her insistence on excellence shows but sometimes disasters happen. There’s the story of the fondant wedding cake that fell over on the way to the wedding. Kanya and her team had spent a week creating it and she had only two hours to fix the damage.

She laughs ruefully at the memory. “As a baker you live very close to the angels. You are connected.” Another chuckle. “Well, not that day with the fondant cake!” Kanya has come to believe that one has to be in just the right frame of mind – a very positive one – to bake a fondant cake or it won’t work.

Sweet lineage
Many surprises greet one in Kanya’s kitchen. There’s a friendliness here that goes back to that kitchen in Klerksdorp, one suspects, and to her mom and gran, and to all the other kitchen goddesses in South Africa Kanya happily pays homage to. She picks up an ancient cookbook, and shows. It has a picture of Ouma Smuts, the wife of genl. Jannie Smuts, on the cover.



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