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The Secret Lives of Doctors — Dr. Asha Dhamija, the baker

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A Broadway performer. An accomplished pianist. A dedicated marathoner. A third-degree black belt. An award-winning filmmaker. A water-skier with all the right moves. A high-flying fighter pilot physician. Doctors from across the state open up about their off-script origin stories and lives outside the office. 

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The Baker

Dr. Asha Dhamija

Internal medicine and chief medical officer at Johnson Memorial Hospital in Stafford Springs, Trinity Health of New England Medical Group

Like so many medical professionals in the age of COVID, Dr. Asha Dhamija had to find a way to reduce the stress and tension that, even without the pandemic, is an inescapable part of her job. She may even have had a few extra reasons to unwind because, in addition to being a busy internist at Johnson Memorial Hospital in Stafford Springs, part of the Trinity Health of New England Medical Group, she also serves as the hospital’s chief medical officer — with all the administrative headaches that go along with it. So she needed to cook up an idea that would make a positive difference in her life.

As it turned out, cooking had nothing to do with it. Baking did! “In my family background there was no baking. But I have two daughters, 6-and-a-half and 4, and thought that if I baked something that would make them happy, it would make me happy, too,” says Dhamija, who has been in practice since 2012. 

Between internet research, trial and error, and a few pointers from an older sister, Dhamija has created several delicious, eye-catching desserts, including a princess cake, a Black Forest cake, and a rainbow sprinkle cake. She has since expanded to muffins and cupcakes, and now has a respectable pastry portfolio. 

When her husband realized she was spending time designing cakes for their daughters, he didn’t quite understand why, particularly since her profession is so demanding. It’s possible he may also have seen a few too many princess cakes, since they’re among the most popular around. “He said, ‘Are you crazy? You can just buy a cake in the store!’ But I told him that it’s a relaxing hobby that gives me pleasure. The girls, too!”

Her 4-year-old recently put in an order for a flower cake, Dhamija reports, undoubtedly pleased (as will be her husband) that it won’t all be about princesses.

NEXT: Dr. Alexandre West, the dancer

This article appears in the June 2021 issue of Connecticut MagazineYou can subscribe to Connecticut Magazine here, or find the current issue on sale hereSign up for our newsletter to get our latest and greatest content delivered right to your inbox. Have a question or comment? Email editor@connecticutmag.com. And follow us on Facebook and Instagram @connecticutmagazine and Twitter @connecticutmag.