When a food critic turns the poison pen on herself

Mini layer cakes December 31, 2008

Filed under: All-occasion cakes,Inane stuff — crummb @ 5:16 pm
Tags: , , , ,


Phoon Huat & Company (Pte) Ltd
231A Pandan Loop
Singapore 128419

Dear Sir,

Re: Urgent enrolment into the Wilton Method Cake Decorating Course

I am writing to make an urgent request. Can I be slotted into your Discover Cake Decorating (Course 1) class scheduled in March?

I was very disappointed to learn from your staff that the class is fully booked, and I have to wait to be informed about the next class. But I cannot afford to wait. I need to take the class AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. Let me explain.

I am an avid baker who writes a cake blog at As you will see on the site, I have not made any cakes with elaborate piping work because, frankly, I don’t know how to. Whenever a cake called for buttercream decoration, I always adopted the “dab-and-fake-it” method. This involves using a spatula and dabbing on buttercream in a random manner to achieve a casual, free-flowing effect.

It is a look that is popularised by many cookbooks today, and it has even earned me a few nice comments from my readers. But deep down in my heart of hearts, I know I am a fake. I can’t do the basketweave or the fleur de lis. I don’t even know how to pipe a ruffle. Not even a damn leaf.

To illustrate my predicament, I have attached a photo of three mini layer cakes I made recently. For the first, I utilised the ‘dab-and-fake-it’ method which, as you can see, I’ve perfected to an artform. For the second, I attempted a more complicated style that required greater upper-arm dexterity – by pulling the spatula upwards to create even, vertical stripes. The result was okay, though not spectacular.

For the third, I decided to bravely confront my demons. I took out my piping tip #16 and created a shell border on top of the cake. But instead of looking like neatly graduating swirls, they resembled the rounded behinds of a bunch of gorillas bending over side by side.

It was such an eye-sore that my husband, who takes the photographs on my blog, relegated the cake right to the back of the picture, where the circle of shiny posteriors could be obscured by soft focus.

As you can see, my piping skills are in URGENT need of improvement. Only you, by immediately putting me in your class, can take me out of this deep, dark abyss. My reputation, my conscience, my very sanity!, are now in your hands.

I await your good news.

Yours most sincerely,



P/S: Happy new year, everyone! Thanks for dropping by this past year 🙂


16 Responses to “Mini layer cakes”

  1. daphnechan00 Says:

    Happy New Year babe ! Did you really send this in? I hope you did ! Pretty sure you will get a place once they see this ! Good luck 🙂

  2. Joanne Says:

    Hi there, the frosting actually does look pretty decent 🙂 I can’t do piping either!

    Anyway, I’ve been wanting to bake mini cakes, but don’t have the equipment. What size pans do you use? And how do you scale the recipes? Thanks a lot.

  3. crummb Says:

    daphne: haha, if they really read this letter, they’ll bar me from their courses for LIFE! they’d go: “what kind of psycho is this?!?”

    joanne: actually i made a regular 8- or 9-inch cake, then use a large cookie cutter (about 3 inches across) to cut out mini rounds. i don’t think i’ve ever come across such small-sized pans, so have to improvise :). also, this saves me from scaling down the recipe. just bake as normal. hope this helps! PS: glad i’m not the only person who sucks at piping. haha!

  4. happygrub Says:

    haha, the letter is GOOD! Did it work?????

    My piping skills suck too, and like you I’ve been improvising!

  5. chris Says:

    piping not as important as taste! noooooo don’t fall in with the fancy-shmancy my-kupkek-better-than-your-kupkek crowd!!!

    frankly, good piping is all about temperature and pressure. as long as you keep the cake cool and the icing at a consistent temperature, and learn how to 1) squeeze with constant pressure and 2) stop squeezing suddenly, you’re nine-tenths there. not that I can do this either!

  6. Ah Pei Says:

    hee ! thought they look pretty cute & retro !

  7. Stef Says:

    Regular practice,a steady hand and a sturdy buttercream recipe is all you need mon cherie…
    try italian buttercream!

    Youtube some piping videos,you’ll be there!
    (oh,in a few weeks/months or so depending on how patient you are…ask hubby to expect some flinging of buttercream when you truly get fed up) =p

  8. ovenhaven Says:

    I personally love the dab-and-fake-it method, and by the looks of it, I think I actually prefer it to the bakery perfect ones! I think yours have more personality 😉

  9. sooch Says:

    Oh, to add on to Stef — for a really cheap re-usable practice cream that lasts you forever, just whip up some vegetable shortening. It will be firmer than buttercream, so in a sense easier to handle, but it lets you practice all the twists and curves of the wrist and pressure adjustment without driving you mad. After that the progression to buttercream should be a breeze. Have fun!

  10. wordsmith Says:

    hey, what did u bake for Christmas and New Year? I want to read more postings from miss cruumb!

  11. crummb Says:

    thanks everyone for your handy tips. the good news is – Phoon Huat called yesterday and said their next class is in April. $252 for four 3-hour classes. value for money, you think?

    wordsmith: heh, the cake on the previous post is Butter Cake with Nut Crunch Topping. recipe taken from Flo Braker’s Baking For All Occasions. I had to recipe-test the book so might as well eat it for Christmas too. as for new year, nope – i didnt make any cakes. i badly needed a break 🙂

  12. Cookie Says:

    Good value? $252 is just the beginning… at the class you need to buy tools, tips and what nodes. Didn’t cost so much but enough for me to make a trip to see my bank manager for an immediate overdraft!


  13. crummb Says:

    SERIOUS?! gosh, thanks for warning me! but I already have quite a bit of the tools and stuff. would i still have to buy? did you attend the same class by phoon huat?

  14. cookie Says:

    I signed up but 2 weeks before the class is scheduled to start, I chicken out after my friend who have gone for all 3 Wilton class (not al PHuat though) gave me a lowdown of the hardware required. Credit crunch, you know… i gotta save myself from the agony

    Ok back to the serious part – there’s no compulsory purchases. You do not have to buy if you already have them or if you can borrow from someone.

  15. crummb Says:

    i see. thanks! actually i’ve chickened out too. i’m still hanging on to the belief that i can somehow wing it just by reading books. hee!

  16. […] all, since the last time I wrote about cake decorating, my piping skills still suck so bad it could frighten small children. But! […]

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