When a food critic turns the poison pen on herself

W&A’s confetti wedding cake April 15, 2009


This is what I’ve learnt from making the cake for my cousin Ambrose’s wedding last month. No matter what you wear or how stylishly you’re turned out, a wedding cake maker will only emerge from the occasion looking like a drenched chicken.

This is what happened.

Ambrose and his adorable wife, Wendy, had wanted a really pretty, romantic cake similar to the one I did for C&A. I threw them a few ideas and was thrilled when they picked this one — a confetti of small flowers scattered down three tiers — because I’ve been dying to make this design for a long time.

But when the wedding day arrived, I found myself feeling really nervous, because:

1. It’s the first time that all of my family and relatives — including my dad and brothers — saw me making an actual wedding cake. They’ve heard about my bizarre hobby for some time now. But they finally clapped eyes on one such creation — the reason I’ve been neglecting my child and getting my husband to do takeaways this past year.

2. A lot of the finishing touches had to be done on-site. The tiers can’t be fully adorned with the flowers until they’re at the venue or they’ll be damaged when they’re stacked up.

3. Finally, this design requires the ultimate in creative artistry — how to make like the flowers were scattered naturally? Like the wind did it?

Click here for full story and pictures


Pineapple and coconut crunch cake April 9, 2009

Filed under: All-occasion cakes — crummb @ 2:06 pm
Tags: , , , , ,


Dear all, since the last time I wrote about cake decorating, my piping skills still suck so bad it could frighten small children. But! *cymbal clash!* I have found a solution to my dismal handicap. And it’s really quite simple.

Don’t know how to pipe? Don’t pipe!

There are other types of cakes in this world that don’t need buttercream rosettes to look good. And, as in the case of this cake, they can even taste better.

Tired of Western cookbooks that don’t work, I’ve been turning to Asian titles for a change. One of the first cookbooks that landed on my desk when I was a food writer was Asian High Tea Favourites by Malaysian author Betty Saw. I remember making her Chocolate Crinkle cookies that came out smelling and tasting like Famous Amos (no joke). So surely her cakes wouldn’t be too far off.

Mysteriously named Surprise Cake, this cake is basically butter cake covered with a moan-inducing topping of minced pineapple, dessicated coconut and crushed cornflakes. Yeah yeah, so it uses canned pineapple, which is loaded with sugar, preservatives and other life-threatening stuff. But I love how it’s so Malaysian/Singaporean/Thai. I mean, South-east Asia is serious about their fake fruit. I can’t think of another region in the world (oh, okay, there’s also China) that has entire industries that peel, deseed, sweeten and basically falsify fruits like longans and lychees to resemble flawless fishballs.

(I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid, the best thing about Chinese wedding banquets was dessert – I’d wolf down the canned longans in double-quick time and leave the pukey almond jelly untouched.)

Consider the mutated marvel called stuffed rambutans. How on earth do they remove the seed and present the flesh as if the seed never happened? As if such technical wizardry isn’t impressive enough, they then proceed to stuff them with delicious chunks of pineapple. I love!

So anyway. When you bite into this cake, there is the expected moistness and softness of the butter cake. But then, there’s also a crunch of cornflakes here, and bits of coconut and pineapple there. If pina coladas are to be reborn as cake, this is it.

Click here for recipe