Crummb

When a food critic turns the poison pen on herself

Crummb wuz here February 8, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — crummb @ 8:28 am

I AM NOT HERE ANYMORE!

I have moved my blog to this new address: crummb.com/blog

So quickquickquick go there now and subscribe me. Once there, you might as well check out my website (crummb.com) which is finally up after months of hand-wringing over the design. I am now officially open for business! See you there.

 

Noelle’s 3rd birthday cake November 8, 2010

Filed under: Birthday cakes — crummb @ 10:42 am
Tags: , , , ,

Kids birthday parties are absolutely exhausting. Last Friday, when my daughter E’s party was winding down to a close, I actually slumped into my sofa and, with mouth slightly ajar, fell asleep when there were still two guests left in the house.

It wasn’t even a big party. All the food was ordered in, and I had my mum and aunt to help with the serving. What made it draining, I realise, was the pressure of wanting to throw a better party than last year’s; this inner competition where I wanted to out-Martha Martha. So I went about making 15 huge paper pom-poms, which took close to 5 hours, to hang all over the house. There was this lovely cascading cluster over the dining table, and a few other explosions at various corners of the house.

There was also a theme. Since E loves to play waitress, we got godma C to make her little menus listing the food to be served at the party, so she could go around asking the guests for their orders. We put on her the most waitressy outfit we could rustle up from her wardrobe, and made a waitress name tag to go with it too.

As for the cake, ahem, I do believe that I outdid the one last year. And I humbly give credit to Naomi of Hello Naomi and Louise of cakejournal.com for the inspiration. It had a giant strawberry, a giant swirl of whipped cream, and giant sprinkles all made out of sugar. Some of the kids thought the cake was a toy. Success!

When the party was over and we were clearing up, I turned to my husband Z and asked, “How many more birthday parties are we gonna throw for her?” Because, I cannot imagine outdoing myself every year. Before you know it, I’ll be hiring the entire Cirque du Soleil, and making a cake with a cannon inside that will shoot fireworks into the night sky.

“For as long as she wants to spend her birthday with us, I s’pose,” Z replied. And sigh, he’s right. There are only so many years E will think it’s cool to have her parents sing Happy Birthday for her, before she starts shopping for barbecue gear so she and her friends can have overnight cookouts at a Changi chalet. Which means I have only a handful of years left to make her cakes, fuss over the food and devise costumes. So I’m still game. Next year, I will make 20 pom-poms.

 

 

Lina & Jens’ wedding cake October 24, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — crummb @ 11:44 pm

Call me ambitious. But two months into this wedding cake business, and I was expecting myself to nail every detail and squash every glitch by now. But nay. I still have much to learn.

Like how I must always remind every client to bring their own cake knives. And that I must always attach fabric ribbons as late as possible or it will absorb moisture from the fondant and cause ugly patches. And that a certain brand of fondant that is used by all the celebrity pastry chefs in America, which recently reached our shores and is sold at very reasonable prices, isn’t what it cracked up (pun intended) to be. Oh Massa Ticino, how could I have cheated on you? I will never wander again. Till death do us part!

But out of this quagmire is one rather pleasant thing that I’ve learnt: two-tier cakes can look good. In the past, I’d always considered two-tier cakes the descendents of Jabba the Hutt. You know, fat, shapeless, like a melting Slurpee. It wasn’t until I made Lina and Jens’ cake last weekend that I realised it can look pretty darn gorgeous — as long as the upper tier is shorter (3 inches) than the lower one (4 inches), and as long as you prop it up on a cakestand, the taller the better.

Oh, this cake also exorcised my fear of using avocado colouring (remember this?). Even at very light doses, pale avocado looks kinda dull and morose. But pep it up with a teeny bit of leaf green, and voila! A muted, delicate shade of green.

 

Kids Cakes October 13, 2010

Filed under: Birthday cakes — crummb @ 2:05 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

If you ever want to make me nervous, just ask me to make a kid’s birthday cake. But if you want me to really tremble in my housewife’s slippers, tell me it is for a boy.

You see, I don’t have a son. I have no idea what makes them tick (or tear down the house). I think Thomas & Friends is the nuttiest TV show on earth. I mean, talking trains? What’s so fun about that? Or dinosaurs? Or cars? Or anything that moves fast and puffs smoke? They’re noisy and they smell.

So thankfully, when M asked me to make a cake for her son Ollie’s 3rd birthday, she had only one criterion. Ollie loves gummies and so she wanted them on a cake. Okay, this I can do. I’ll put them on bamboo skewers and stick them into a little balloon cart, my tribute to the animation movie Up (if you haven’t seen it, the 4-minute montage of a lifelong marriage is worth an Oscar by itself).

But man, it was hard work. It took hours to cut, texture and stick together the cart. The little helium canister threatened to drop off, the cart started falling apart, the wheels couldn’t support the weight, the gummy sticks kept tilting downwards. By the time M came to pick up the cake, I looked like I’d just walked through a car wash.

Cakes for little girls, on the other hand, are a complete breeze. You just make cute little strawberries, cut out little flowers and leaves, stick them on the cake and that is it. After S came to pick up this 3-tier cake for her daughter Jayna, I could actually go out to attend a wedding like a normal person and even emitted no foul odours.

I know I’m probably scaring off all my friends who have sons. But don’t worry (especially Clara, Yee Hwa, Jo and Hun Ching!), I will always make your boys’ birthday cakes if you want.

There are always sedatives (for me, not your sons).

 

Welcome to my office September 6, 2010

Filed under: Cupcakes,Inane stuff — crummb @ 3:33 am

This is my new office. I started work a few weeks ago and it’s definitely not what I’m used to. While my previous employer was a monopolistic juggernaut that had thousands of drones chugging away at its engines every day, my new company is a tiny set-up — and its smallness hit me hard on my first day.

Like every no-name outfit out there with limited start-up capital, there is a helluva lot of Ikea furniture around here. There is only one cleaning lady, no IT support, no 24-hour phone assistance, not even air-con. In fact, I can bet you I’m gonna get paid in hand-written cheques.

The company is in the confectionery services sector, and I am one of only two employees. I am, in the grand Singaporean do-it-all tradition of bau geh liao, cover everything from design, production, marketing, promotions to delivery. The other employee goes by the name of Z, one of those irritating, bossy types who thinks he’s the smartest, funniest, best-looking one around — not unlike Ricky Gervais in The Office. But he only comes in in the evenings and on weekends so he’s got nothing on me.

The real bosses here are, of course, the company’s owners — a pair of sisters who are known throughout the industry as hard task-masters. Rumour has it that they have a huge appetite for success and will stop at nothing until they get a giant slice of the pie. They’ve been pretty cordial to me so far, full of smiles and good mornings when I walk pass their rooms every day. But I am not blindsided by such superficial pleasantries. I know that once shit hits the fan, I’m gonna be busy.

Let me tell you about the older one. She’s the sort of boss who gets excited over the slightest idea and needs to be briefed and debriefed all the time. But thankfully, she goes for self-improvement classes every morning, so that gives me time to deal with the real terror of the territory, the younger sister.

This fat, waddly one hasn’t said a word to me since Day 1. From outside her room, I often hear her screaming at the cleaning lady to do things faster, better, now, now, now. Seated on her high pedestal, she bangs her fists and demands up-to-the-minute updates on wet-market movements. Very soon, she’ll probably want me — as if I haven’t got enough to do already — to pick up her laundry. And then what? Wipe her butt?

Then, while everyone is slaving over her targets and deadlines, she slips off and takes long afternoon naps — right there in her room and in full view of everyone!

But I am soldiering on. There are several plus points about this job, such as the short commute and the 24-hour pantry that’s stocked with many things I like. And, if worse comes to worst, I will adopt this mantra that I have observed from working 15 years in a big company — which I believe applies to workplaces both big and small: There’s nothing that a bit of ass-kissing can’t fix.

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Personal aside to readers: Of course, my home doesn’t really look like this. The total-unglam bottle sterilizer, milk formula tins, unsightly trash can, aprons and clearance-sale mugs were all shoved behind the counter before the shoot. The baby though, at least to me, is gorgeousness confirmed :)

 

My first cake order August 27, 2010

Filed under: Birthday cakes — crummb @ 10:43 am
Tags: ,

In my former life as a journalist, I had this internal switch that I turned on each time I stepped into an interview to profile a personality. In an instant, I’d become chatty, full of questions, thoroughly interested, and dripping with charm and good manners. It was all necessary if you are to probe the inner psyche of a complete stranger.

But 15 years of practice couldn’t obscure this fact: I was, and always will be, an introvert. I’m incurably shy when it comes to meeting new people, and I will always need a legitimate licence — such as a journalist’s badge — before I dare poke a toe into someone’s private life.

But, as I happily found out last week when I delivered my first cake, my second career can also usher me into strangers’ lives — this time, no charm offensive needed.

The venue was a gleaming, immaculately renovated studio apartment in the heart of CBD, and the occasion was a surprise birthday party for a girl named C. As I assembled the cake on the swanky kitchen countertop, I could hear the whirl of excitement all around. Friends chatted, new people were introduced, music played, drinks circulated.

“It’s like we can gatecrash parties all the time now,” I whispered excitedly to husband Z, who was my co-deliveryman. But instead of having to do the dreaded small talk, I was left alone to do my work. I was invisible, but privy to all that was going on. A bit like a taxi-driver, I thought.

I was curious about the birthday girl, whom we didn’t meet because we had to leave before she arrived. Clearly, she was very well-loved. She is a hobbyist painter and had drawn many paintings for her friends over the years. So as a surprise for her birthday, her friends gathered all the paintings she had given away and displayed them at the party as like an art exhibition. There were canapes, uniformed waitresses and, of course, a three-tier cake made by me.

The cake was designed to hopefully appeal to the bubbly, artsy girl. The three square tiers were stacked off-centre, and each layer was decorated with different sugarpaste motifs in bright, happy colours.

But the evening ended on a sour note for me. Halfway through my set-up, Z poked me in the ribs and pointed at the countertop. After turning the cakestand round and round so I could coax the chocolate fondant into shape, I had left ugly streaks on the spotless stainless steel surface. I placed a rag under the cakestand and tried rubbing away the scratches, but it was too late. They were permanent.

No words could describe how gutted I felt. If someone had done that to my kitchen countertop, I’d be pissed. But the homeowner was totally gracious about it. And to remedy the situation, I have sent my contractor over to polish down the damage.

The repair job will cost me the price of the cake and then some. So this is one hard, expensive lesson learnt. You can bet that every time I go on a new job from now on, I will not need that internal switch. I will bloody need a rag.

 

Re-introducing… Crummb! August 17, 2010

Filed under: Inane stuff — crummb @ 12:36 am

SINGAPORE (August 17): In a formidable show of people power, Crummb is elected as the official name of TPL’s bakery.

Crummb, the name of the former journalist’s baking blog of three years, steamrolled its arch-rival Crumb with a huge margin by grabbing 35 votes. The latter name, leaner but not meaner, managed to capture a paltry 2 nods.

In a motherhood statement released to the press, Crummb said it is honoured to be the name of this finest of new cake establisments.

“I would like to thank all 35 people who made their mandate clear by voting for me.  I will work my best, so as to achieve happiness, prosperity and progress for TPL,” it said.

To cement its appointment, TPL has created a business page on Facebook under “Crummb”. All readers of her blog are cordially invited to the page and click Like to bloat her already obese ego.

“But it is also for me to know the names and faces of my readers, what,” she defends, downplaying her pathological need for praise and affirmation. She adds that whoever Likes her page will henceforth be christened “Crummbot” for his/her unwavering support and obedience.

As for the also-ran Crumb, it was recently spotted endorsing some two-bit musician on Facebook, as well as countless other unimaginative bakeries whose names are so similar you don’t know which is which.

“See? It pays to be different,” said Crummb, adding that TPL’s readers are as wise as they have good taste.

“So quick go to the Facebook page now and make yourselves known. Crummbots of the world unite!”

 

 
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