As far as I’m concerned, chocolate fudge cake, tiramisu, brownies – or whatever most people say is their ultimate confectionery sin – don’t even come close.
I love strawberry shortcake so much that I had it made into my wedding cake two years ago. And I asked the place that makes the very best, Tampopo Deli in Liang Court, to do it.
I first tasted their so-called Scoop Cake about a year before, and instantly swore that I would never write about it in my articles for the newspaper.
It was so good that I didn’t want hordes of readers going to order it and lowering its standards, or worst, have the pastry chef poached somewhere else where she couldn’t be found or didn’t make the cake any more. Nope, this find was mine.
It’s called Scoop Cake because it’s made in rectangular foil tubs where portions are scooped out and served. Each comes with two layers of incredibly soft vanilla sponge cake that’s smothered under this blanket of toe-tingling, absolutely divine whipped cream. It is topped with juicy chunks of strawberry and orange that – over the three years that I’ve had it – are always off-the-farm fresh.
When I told Tampopo’s owner Mr Takagi about my proposition, he said no problem, and promptly ushered out his pastry chef to discuss the details. Akemi, the sweet-faced and super talented chef who had previously worked for the fabulous Provence bakery in Holland Village, was so obliging it almost hurt.
I want the cake put inside cupcake cases. Hai! I want the same two layers of vanilla sponge and two layers of whipped cream. Hai! I also want the same strawberry and orange on top, with the same sprig on mint and silver dragees. Hai! Hai!
The only problem, she said, was that I would have to source for the cupcake cases and cupcake stand myself, since they don’t normally cater to weddings. No problem, I said. It suited the exacting, detail-obsessed bridezilla in me just fine.
As it turned out, it took me close to two months before I found the cupcake case. Akemi said it’d have to have sturdy sides – not the usual fluted ones – to hold in the soft cream. I combed through just about every baking supplies store I knew, and even went on the Internet to check out overseas suppliers, before I settled on the one in these photos. It was actually a little too ubiquitous for me – many cafes use it for muffins – but for lack of other options, I took it.
When it came to the cupcake stand, there was no way I was gonna borrow one of those widely available, cheapo-looking acrylic ones (yes, I am a cupcake stand snob). Instead, I want the cupcakes to be placed on a towering four-tier cake dummy, just like the one I saw in Martha Stewart Weddings. So I asked the only person I knew who could make it for me, an executive pastry chef from a hotel.
The tiers were to be made of styrofoam, then covered in white fondant. Before I gave the chef the dimensions, I even cut out the exact sizes of the four tiers from newspaper just to make sure it looked right. It’s gonna be one unusual, unforgettable cake, I thought smartly.
Well, it was unusual alright. It was so unusual that most of my wedding guests didn’t know it was the wedding cake. When I entered the reception hall where they were tucking into buffet after our church ceremony, the cakes were largely untouched and I had to tell people to eat it. Those who did couldn’t stop raving. My brother Pete ate four in a row. And to this day, it remains a mystery who took home the biggest tub on top of the cake. That one was supposed to be for me.
A few months ago, I was going through my wedding photos when I came across these same ones of the cake. I e-mailed them to Mr Takagi to thank him and Akemi for a job well done. Then, a few weeks later, I was walking pass Tampopo Deli when I saw the photos blown up to the size of movie posters and pasted on the shop window.
It’s funny. I had no hand in making the cake. But right then, as I stood in front of the shop, was one of the proudest moments of my life.