When a food critic turns the poison pen on herself

Crummb wuz here February 8, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — crummb @ 8:28 am


I have moved my blog to this new address:

So quickquickquick go there now and subscribe me. Once there, you might as well check out my website ( 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 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
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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.


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!”


Saying goodbye to my junkyard August 5, 2010

Filed under: Inane stuff — crummb @ 12:00 am

My last day at the newspaper is two weeks away, so I’ve been slowly clearing out my desk. And boy, do I have a lot of junk.

I have Time and Newsweek magazines dating back to 2002. There are candy, teabags, and wine bottles that are so old they are probably radioactive. Stacks and stacks of press releases, interview notes and business cards stand neglected at various corners.

But there are other junk that aren’t so easy to throw away. Like this empty bottle of San Pellegrino that Lionel brought back for me from a movie junket in London. Its content was imbibed by one Brad Pitt, and Lionel, knowing how I had lusted after the actor for years, sneaked it into his bag at the end of the interview when no one was looking. My shrieks of joy upon receiving it almost rocked the building. But now, I may just junk the thing. I still haven’t forgiven Brad for what he did to Jen.

My pinboard has many other things I will definitely keep. They are cards and notes from colleagues and newsmakers over the years, two of which remind me that I had grazed the culinary big-time — thank-you letters from French celebrity chefs Alain Ducasse and Alain Passard. But my pride and joy is a note scrawled in rather childish handwriting: “Believe In Dreams & Work Hard!” It was written to me by Taufik Batisah, who is, in my opinion, the only Singapore Idol and whom I voted for 30 times at the final. When he visited the office soon after his win, he caused a mini stampede among the women on our floor — me included. His signature has two dots over the ‘u’ and a heart at the end. Awww.

Then, there are the two booklets I brought back from a lunch tasting that Lisa and I attended at the Ritz-Carlton. It was one of those chi-chi affairs where the flower arrangements reached the ceiling, a different wine was served with each course, and you wore your best shoes and minded your posture. But Lisa and I were there for some fun. We were all given wine booklets to jot down things about the vintages. But while everyone was dutifully recording their scholastic observations (so they could take home and archive in their million-dollar walk-in wine cellars), we wrote down numbers — on the scale of 1 to 10 — for how drunk we were with each successive wine. By dessert, we were pouncing on each other’s booklets and scribbling lopsided, barely decipherable declarations. My favourite line from Lisa was that I was Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein’s love-child, because “You are da BOMB!!!!!”

Needless to say, we went back to work very late that day because we had to sit in our cars for a very long time to wear out the booze.

But the oldest thing on my desk is my Collins’ thesaurus, which I bought in the early 1990s while still in university. On my first day of work in 1995, I stood it next to my desk phone as the first of many tools in a journalist’s arsenal that I was to amass (the others, as I was soon to find out, were things like namecard holder, coffee, Panadol, and a thick skin).

The thesaurus took me through the more than 1,800 stories I was to write over 15 years. It was always on hand to offer a clever word or a witty turn of phrase. Fifteen years and 1,800 stories is a long time and a lot of words. So which stories were the most memorable? Interviews with celebrities come to mind. Chow Yun-Fat was the ultimate charmer; Shu Qi had the prettiest nose; Gong Li was ice-cold and impenetrable, until you ask about her dogs; and Pierce Brosnan — whom I wanted to marry at 13 and met face-to-face at 29 — was most disappointingly an incorrigible vainpot.

What about the piece I’m proudest of writing? I’m tempted to say the profile I did of the very bizarre Jacintha Abisheganadan, or a travel series on emerging China that had me traipse across five cities in two weeks. But actually, it is this little weekly column I wrote for several years which I utterly hated. It is called Cheap & Good, and it recommends hawker stalls for their good food at dirt-cheap prices.

I hated it because I always had to ask my relatives, contacts, old school friends — pretty much anyone who crossed my path — for leads to a good, undiscovered hawker. They weren’t easy to come by. And when I did get one and managed to hunt it down in some farflung corner in Woodlands or Bedok, either his food was not very good, he was closed for the day, or he refused to be interviewed because his business was already so good he couldn’t handle any more customers. And so off I went to scramble for another lead.

But for all this trouble, there were rewards. It is no exaggeration when I say the articles changed some hawkers’ lives. The sudden burst of business gave them the recognition they so longed for and deserved. Many of them went on to be featured in TV shows, websites and blogs. I like to think that the hawkers’ lives, and those of their children, improved at least by a little bit.

Now, I look at my thesaurus, the one that has accompanied me through all these stories and characters, and ask:  Shall I or shan’t I throw you away? I rarely use it now, not when is just a click away. With its tea-coloured pages and withered spine, it stands on my desk as a ‘brown’ elephant.

But if I take it home, it will — along with all the other knick knacks salvaged from my desk — be kept in a shoe-box and shoved high up in my closet. The next time I take it down for a look will probably be when I move house, whenever that will be.

My thesaurus, I realise, belongs next to my phone right here on my desk. Even all the other junk that I will soon throw away — they hold meaning here, randomly placed and woefully neglected, as fragments of the past that are all at one place and within arm’s reach.

I will be one sad woman on my last day when my desk is empty and shorn of every last memory. So with two weeks more to go, I am leaving everything the way it is. Let me enjoy this for just a while longer.


Taking a vote July 28, 2010

Filed under: Wedding cakes — crummb @ 2:23 pm

I am feeling like an absolute idiot. After announcing in my previous post that my bakery will be called Crumb with one ‘m’, I am thinking maybe I’ll go back to Crummb after all.

Why? Because two friends have reacted with rather loud ‘But why?!!’s (with two exclamation marks). So I explained to them that it is in keeping with my brand new image as purveyor of fine, sophisticated cakes — that a baker who can’t spell is almost as bad as a chef who is skinny.

“But Crummb is cute what,” they said.

My husband Z added fuel to the fire. “They’re right what. Crumb sounds so ordinary and cheap. Crummb has more personality.”

Oh good grief. I am having a bigger identity crisis than Lady Gaga. Lucky I haven’t printed out the business cards yet.

So I have decided to ask you, whoever is reading out there, to vote. Look at these 6 cakes I’ve made for my website portfolio, and tell me which is more appropriate to my style: Crumb or Crummb?

Help me out, guys. I, as always, aim to please 🙂







Introducing… Crumb! July 20, 2010

Filed under: Inane stuff,Wedding cakes — crummb @ 11:12 pm

It’s safe to announce it now: I’ve handed in my letter, hung up my poison pen, polished my KitchenAid, and am finally going into business! YES!

Three years ago, I — and practically half of the baking fraternity around the globe — dreamt of opening a home bakery selling cupcakes, because they’re easy to do and oh-so trendy. But a friend urged me to aim higher. So thanks, Jenny, for putting the idea in my head. I am now a bona fide wedding cake maker!

I don’t just do weddings though. Birthdays, anniversaries, engagements, proposals — any occasion that calls for a special cake with hand-made sugarpaste work. I’ll work from home as a one-woman show (two-women if you include my maid who will help with the washing) so even though I can’t stand the word, this makes me an ‘artisan’. Ahem.

I’m now serving one month’s notice (three weeks left!) before I quit the newspaper for good. If you’ve been wondering why I’ve suddenly gone all silent over the past few months, it’s because I’ve been busy preparing my cake portfolio for my business website. It’s still a work in progress but you can see some of my work here. Oh, the bakery is called Crumb with a single ‘m’ now. The double ‘m’ was cute for a blog, but I reckon proper spelling is essential if I wanna be taken seriously. Would you spend $700 bucks on a birthday cake made by a bakery that couldn’t spell? Ah don’t think so.

It’s been one helluva ride getting here so thank-yous are in order:

Jenny Tan, for planting the seed

Christopher Tan, for being a 24-hour helpline when I was (and still am) navigating the mysterious seas of baking

Lynn Ng, Jessica Tan, Charmayne Yap and Clarissa Oon for having sheer courage in letting this total novice make your wedding cakes

Suzanne Sng, Charmayne Yap (again!), Linda Jim, Tan Hsueh Yun, Weylin Liew for not laughing

My husband Z, for surviving on delivery pizza and showing unquestioning support while I baked, even though you were motivated by the money I’m gonna make so you can quit your job and hang out with skaters full-time.

I love you all! And now it’s time to bake.


bakeware giveaway! April 28, 2010

Filed under: Inane stuff — crummb @ 12:46 am

Back when I first started this blog and my daily readership was in the low 2-digits, my husband Z would jokingly suggest that I hold lucky draws to jack up the hits. Don’t be silly, I’d say. Slowly but surely, hordes of people will read me because they will find it impossible to resist my melodious writing, insightful musings and sparkling wit.

Well, today, I am eating my words. I am offering to give away my bakeware absolutely FREE because times are hard. Maybe it’s because Singapore just opened two casinos and everyone’s gone gambling. But suddenly, nobody’s reading my blog — my readership stats has dropped back to my early BC (Before Cupcake) days. My ego is getting deflated faster than my worst sponge cake.

And besides, I really need to make room on my baking shelf for my steadily increasing collection of cake decorating tools. You’d be happy to know that the following items are all in tip-top condition. Drop a comment or email me if you’re interested. Can come collect at my place.

(Clockwise from left; daughter not for sale:)

Item #1: Red and pink polka dotted cupcake cases. Original price: $9.90 per tube. I pounced on them the second I saw them at Kitchen Capers because they were the most adorable cases I’ve ever seen. But in my haste, I failed to notice that they were only 1cm high, which would make cupcakes that are thinner than I like. Grab them if you’re into making madeleines or thin cupcakes. The pink one is not even opened.

Item #2: Loaf pan (Original price: Can’t remember… It wasn’t cheap. From Phoon Huat). I have two of these and I bought them BEFORE I realised their dimensions weren’t right for most of my pound cakes.

Item #3: Cookbook stand (Original price: Don’t know, it was a gift from Z). In my naive early days of baking, I thought having a cookbook stand would solve all my problems – no more yucky stains and bits of flour on my precious books! But it has since become obsolete. Most of my cookbooks are thick, hulky tomes that cannot fit into this svelte gadget. Z is aghast that I’m giving his gift away, but my rationale is: sentimental white elephant or neat, sleek baking shelf? Case closed.

Item #4: Dark metal 12-hole muffin pan (Original price: Can’t remember. From Phoon Huat). Nothing wrong with this, I’ve been using it for three years. But lately I am on a cakezilla mission to use only aluminium pans in all my baking. These pans work just fine if you turn down your oven temperature by 10 deg C from what’s stated in the recipe. Therefore I am not giving away a dud.

Item #5: Aluminium 12-hole cupcake pan (Original price: about $7). In my search for aluminium cupcake pans, I got this even though the holes are shallower than normal muffin pans. I thought they’d still be able to hold up the cases, but no, the cupcakes spread out a little too much for me. Good for madeleines though.

Item #6: Three-sided jagged scraper (Original price: about $3). Why am I giving this away? Cos I already had one at home when I bought this. Duh.

Item #7: Bundt pan (Original price: Can’t remember, not cheap). Same reason why I’m giving away the muffin pan.

So there you have it. Call me call me call me. I really need to offload these extras so that my baking shelf can be neat and trim like a showroom centrepiece. Me and my inner Martha thank you.


Abstract sugarflowers April 1, 2010

Filed under: Inane stuff — crummb @ 12:23 am
Tags: ,

The last time I lost sleep over homework, Bill Clinton was still president, Jamiroquai was the It band, and I could fit into UK size 10 jeans — which is to say, it was a very long time ago.

But there I was, last Friday night, sprawled out in bed with my eyes wide open and thinking, “The teacher is gonna HATE it!” I had just put together the final project for my 5-week course in sugarflowers, and to put it delicately, it didn’t turn out the way I had envisioned it. It plain sucked.

We had to decorate a 2-tier cake any way we liked. And, with grand plans to impress, I covered not 2, but 3 tiers of styrofoam cake rounds with avocado-coloured fondant. Then, I stuck on leaves of three different shades of green in a swag formation, held up by white carnations. The bright idea was to create thick flower and leaf cut-outs so they look like felt appliques. But the cake ended up looking like a bloody Lego tower put together by a 6-year-old.

Aghast and unable to sleep, I plucked out the leaves and started scrambling for plan B. Out of sheer desperation, I took out my round cutters the next morning and created these abstract flowers in pink, the only colour that could perk up the vomitous avocado shade. They turned out surprisingly well, but with just hours to go before I was to head off to class, I only had enough flowers to form one row.

At class, the teacher was neither horrified nor impressed. “Not bad for something done out of desperation,” she said. But back home, my husband Z was a lot more blunt. Eyeing the pukey-green and uneven, embattled fondant, he said after taking these pictures: “My photos make your cake look good.” Wow, thanks.

In a moment of abject self-doubt, I asked him, Am I a better writer than a baker? Should I forget about this cake-making business and just stick with journalism?

He must have felt bad, because his turnaround was swift. He raised an arm skyward a la Hamlet. “No,” he pronounced. “The literary world has lost its brightest star, because the baking world has discovered…” and pauses for dramatic effect, “a  supernova!”

Right, thanks. Anyway I’ve kept the flowers and am thinking of how to re-use them on another cake. The puke fondant? I trashed them the second these photos were shot. Adios.


Sugar Flowers March 23, 2010

Filed under: Inane stuff — crummb @ 10:20 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

For the past two days, my husband Z and I have been walking around looking like we could conquer the world.

Me, because I’m about to finish a 5-week course in sugar flowers, which has taught me to make – among other things – the pretty posy above. Now, when I look at all the wedding cake cuttings I’ve amassed, I go “I can do that, that, and that.” As for Z, he just bought a new camera lens which has enabled him to take the photo above. “Should’ve bought it a looong time ago,” he said.

I don’t know who is more smug: Me, who is having serious illusions of grandeur about becoming a wedding cake maker, or Z, who cannot wait to take photos for my business website. When everyone clicks on the opening page and is greeted by his photo, he says, they will freeze in awe, collapse in delirium, and exhibit other such worshipful reactions.

We’ll see about that. In the meantime, I wanna show off what else I made.

A carnation…

A daisy…

But I’m proudest of my posy, which I think bears revisiting…

In fact, I believe a close-up is in order…

Alright, enough gloating. Back to the laundry.


Blueberry cheesecake March 14, 2010

Filed under: All-occasion cakes — crummb @ 11:27 pm
Tags: , , ,

I’m beginning to wonder if E is really my daughter.

The other day, I gave her a bit of this truly awesome blueberry cheesecake. She twirled it around in her a mouth for a bit, looked nonchalant, and went straight back to watching TV. Like, what?! How can my very own flesh and blood not love cheesecake? What’s worse, I found out today that she has an aversion to all tomato-based food. Give her anything with the tangy taste of tomato and she’ll spit it out. This child is not mine! I demand a maternity test!

Thankfully, my friends have kids. And Ollie, who is 2-1/2 and a self-proclaimed “cake monster”, loved this cheesecake. He and his mamma M came by recently for a playdate with E, but he ended up more entranced by my oven offerings. After polishing off a big slice of this cheesecake, he asked for more – Oliver Twist indeed!

The kid has good taste. This Japanese-style cheesecake is wonderfully light and not too sweet. Instead of being smothered by a blanket of gooey blueberries, it has just a layer of the fruit tucked above the crust. A topping of sour cream offsets the sweetness.

My little fan Ollie is set to come back for more. Since we’re making their playdates a regular thing every Thursday, I’m gonna bake something for him each time. Those of my friends – that includes you, ST subs! – who wanna swing by for dessert are welcome every Thursday around lunch. After all, I love anyone who loves me. Or, at least, loves my cakes.


(Adapted from Keiko Ishida’s Okashi)

65g Digestive biscuits, crushed

25g unsalted butter, melted

220g cream cheese, at room temperature

50g castor sugar

2 egg yolks

1 tablespoon whipping cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

80g canned blueberries, drained and lightly pat dry

130g sour cream

20g icing sugar

1. Preheat oven to 170 deg C. Lightly grease a 15-cm round cake pan with a removable base.

2. Combine biscuit crumbs with melted butter and press it down onto the base of the pan. Place pan in fridge to set.

3. Beat cream cheese, sugar, egg yolks, whipping cream and vanilla together until smooth (make sure cream cheese is well-softened at room temperature or you’ll get yucky little lumps),

4. Spread blueberries over the biscuit base, pour cream cheese mixture over it and bake for about 30 minutes (check from 20 minutes onwards) until surface is firm and springy to the touch.

5. Take out the pan and increase oven to 200 deg C. Combine sour cream and icing sugar, then heat mixture in microwave oven until it becomes smooth and liquidy. Pour over baked cheesecake and bake for about 2 minutes for sour cream layer to set.

6. Cool cake pan on a wire rack. Cover with cling film and chill in fridge overnight. Run a knife along the edge of the cheesecake to unmold.


Guilt-free Chocolate Chiffon Cake March 1, 2010

My husband Z turned 33 last week. When I asked him what cake he wanted as a present, he said a chocolate cake that’s “not too rich”. Ever heard of a chocolate cake that wasn’t rich? I haven’t. It’s like asking for steak without meat.

But that’s what you get when you suddenly find yourself with a health-conscious, iron-pumping husband in the house. It all started when a few of his b-boy friends dropped by a few weeks ago. Believe it or not, Z was a founding member of Radikal Forze, a pioneering breakdancing crew that started when hip-hop first took root in Singapore 10 years ago. He and his posse of breakers used to spin holes into the dancefloor in Zouk, sporting oversized jerseys and baseball caps way before it became standard attire for teenage boys everywhere.

He quit the group after two years but a few of the members carried on. F, who is now group frontman and one of the most respected b-boys in Asia, came by our house with three others for a visit. Because they pretty much make a living out of breaking, they have bodies as tight as pitbulls and, as Z described, rare muscle groups that were last seen on Brad Pitt in The Fight Club.

“Imagine if I’d continued with them,” Z said after they left, regaling me with tales of their conquests of overseas competitions and easy girls. And, as if to make up for the lost years, he started lifting weights every night, huffing and puffing in front of the bedroom mirror. In between sets, he would turn to me with triumphant shouts of “Bam!”

I’d ignore him, but inside, I found this recapturing of a former life a bit unsettling. Blame it on my postpartum hormones, but I began to wonder, could Z be regretting the life he chose when he married me? After all, I met him when he was only 26 and about to leave for London for an unscripted life of adventure. I was a greenie to his world of clubbing and all-night raves, an older woman with “Baggage” written all over my forehead. And yet, to borrow an expression from Beyonce, he liked it enough to put a ring on it.

He cancelled London and all of its freewheeling possibilities. Now, seven years later, he is leading a far less glamorous life with me, changing diapers and coaxing our kid in an Elmo voice to finish her food.

“What do you think would have happened if you went to London?” I asked him the other day.

“I’d become a rock star,” he said.

“No, seriously,” I said.

“I’d probably end up dead,” he said. Okay, that was a bit morbid. But I took it that he prefers the life he has now. There are no regrets.

So anyway, about the cake. I actually found a recipe that met his odd request – a guilt-free chocolate chiffon cake taken from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Cake Bible. Because it contained no butter, it carried only 110mg of cholesterol. Moist and light as air, it was absolutely delicious taken with some mascarpone whipped cream. Z has been wolfing down big slabs of it every night after his workouts, pleased as punch about this healthy birthday present.

But the cake is really just a red herring. Z has often grumbled about how I always make fun of him in my blog. So this year, my real birthday present to him is this rare public declaration of affection. Happy birthday, Ah Chut. You’re my hero and I’m glad you took the detour.