When a food critic turns the poison pen on herself

Dad’s 80th birthday cake October 8, 2009

Filed under: Birthday cakes,Inane stuff — crummb @ 9:01 pm
Tags: ,

test bday

I made a two-tier cake for my dad’s 80th birthday last month. But this post isn’t about how much he loved it (which I’m sure he did, even though crusty, conservative Teochew men like him don’t often express their feelings), or how much my relatives loved it, or how my 23-month-old daughter E wolfed down an entire slice all by herself, this being her very first taste of her mother’s baking (we decided that we’ve deprived her the sinful joys of fat and sugar for long enough).

No, this post is about the miracle of how I even managed to make the cake in the first place.

You’ve been fooled if you think that I stopped baking over the past five months because I’m pregnant and that my apartment was under renovation. Friends, there was actually a more sinister, diabolical force at work – my husband Z.

Let me put it this way. I am married to a man who has turned my pregnancy into an oppressive in-house military camp. Much like how life in the army barracks is governed by an inexplicable set of rules that makes sense only to the sergeant who created them, so is my life ever since Z knocked me up.

Here is Z the Pregnancy Nazi’s edict:

I cannot eat instant noodles or canned soup. Zero nutrition.

I cannot eat sausages. You don’t know what goes into them.

I cannot stand near the microwave oven, let alone eat anything that has been microwaved. He gave me the reason but it was so deep it slid right over my head.

I cannot carry my 11-kg daughter. Too taxing.

I cannot reach my arms up to take anything that is taller than me. I could overstretch.

I must flee at the slightest whiff of cigarette smoke, paint, detergent or fumigation (but strangely, his noxious farts are okay).

I cannot shower in the bathtub. I could slip and fall.

Every other day, he will check if I have been faithfully taking my dietary supplements. Every time I eat an apple, or any produce that may have come in contact with pesticides, he asks sternly: “Did you wash it?”

A few weeks ago, in a haze of renovation fever, I returned to my apartment with our maid so she could glue on a piece of laminate in the kitchen. I only supervised; I didn’t do any of the work. But when Z found out that I was actually within sniffing distance of glue for 15 minutes, he refused to talk to me for one full day.

So go ahead, ask me if I’ve been baking. And I’ll roll my eyes and tell you: “And incur the wrath of Lord Z?” No, I have not been baking. Because I don’t want to whisk an egg and have him scold me for potentially breaking my hip, thereby making childbirth more difficult. I have not been baking. Because I don’t want to sift flour only to have him accuse me of triggering premature labour.

But I had a rare reprieve last month as my dad’s birthday approached. He was turning 80, a grand, celebratory milestone by any standard, and I wanted to bake him a cake, something I had never done before. It was a proposition that even Z, a complete softie when it comes to parents and family, could not turn down.

So I baked the butter cakes in my spanking new 90-cm Ariston oven back in my apartment (more about my wonder oven in another post), then completed the frosting (whipped cream with mascarpone cheese) and decorations (strawberries, raspberries and blueberries) at my parents’, where a party for 30 relatives was to be held.

The cake was a hit. Dad’s four grandchildren helped him blow out the candles, and a photo of that moment now serves as wallpaper in his iPod, our birthday gift to him. I’m just glad that Z the Nazi didn’t deny me the pride I now feel for making the cake. Because if he did, I would summon some of this watermelon belly and heavy-artillery papaya boobs to unleash some major Allied forces on him. Ker-pow!


38 Responses to “Dad’s 80th birthday cake”

  1. Steb Says:

    You should get Z off the Internet. It is only a matter of time before he realizes that you should not use scented soap, make up, colored clothing or deodorant.
    Not eating microwaved food? What about not eating food tha has been in a plastic container when hot?

    Anyway, good luck to you – your dad’s cake looked fantastic!

  2. Thumbie Says:

    No restrictions yet on using mobile phones? Or wireless internet? Can you only move around in designated No-Wireless@Sg zones? Or am I putting ideas in his head? :$ Well, he seems to be a very thoughtful person, evidently doing what he does all out of love. 🙂

    Your cakes always look so divine (must also credit the photographer!) and it’s such a pity that you haven’t been baking much. Looking forward to more of your creations after your pregnancy!

  3. vivian Says:

    ahaha! You take care. Z was horrified that day when i asked if he could share a packet of Mamee with me – “You know I don’t let my wife eat these, it’s very unhealthy!” In the end I only ate 2 mouthfuls before the guilt sinks in… No more instant noodles for me anymore.

  4. Z Says:

    She ate instant noodles again this morning!

  5. crummb Says:

    steb and thumbie: stop putting ideas in his head!!!! he is already forcing me to use organic soap! :-S

    vivian: i had Chu Qian Yi Ding curry-flavour noodles this morning. i could tell – Z almost wanted to stop talking to me again. but i figured, if i added loads of veggies and some meat, cancels out the bad right? heehee.

    • cookie Says:

      Hey Sista,
      Despite all your rantings, I know deep deep down inside, you are grining, and appreciate the love of Z in setting all those “rules”!

      C’mon, be honest.

      PS: Great to see your post again!

      PPS: marvellous cake for the BIG 80!

  6. livetoleave Says:

    YOu shouldn’t be typing posts in your blog, as you may just sprain your fingers, which will then make carrying your little newborn a challenge. You cannot sit in front of the computer, in case you strain your eyeballs….

    You are blessed with a husband who matters about the small things, darling!

  7. ovenhaven Says:

    Awww, Z sounds like such a protective albeit paranoid, loving albeit stifling, and anxious worry-wart of a husband! You’re very fortunate to have him looking out for you 🙂

    All the best with the pregnancy (and the in-house military camp)!

    For someone whom I remember mentioned not being frosting-affiliated, you did an excellent job with the frosting! The cake looks perfect 🙂

  8. crummb Says:

    cookie, livetoleave, ovenhaven: ermmm, okay la, i grudgingly concede that this is all outta loooove. but i won’t say anything more in case Z’s head grows so big he can’t get out the door 🙂

    ovenhaven: you are TOO kind! i am actually quite ashamed about the frosting. i overwhipped it so it was a little too hard – when i slapped it on it didn’t give the soft, fluffy texture i was looking for. but it was the best i could do under time- and husband-constraints 🙂

  9. daphnechan00 Says:

    haha this cracked me up man ! Never knew that Z’s THAT much of a paranoid ! But aw well it’s all for the greater good.. liberation day will come anyhow ! So exciting ! Nice cake and I miss your cakes !! 😦 Loved my birthday one.. awww love it, when I come back I want one ! Whether Z likes it or not ! 😛

  10. Sooch Says:

    Firstly — What???!!! You didn’t even let En taste her first birthday cake? COME ON!!!!
    Secondly — Don’t even think about all those processed foods etc man, they’re POISON!!! Stick to organic everything! Bake with organic eggs, flour, milk, raw sugar! Hold that handphone far from the belly. No. Throw it out!
    Ok ok I’ll stop poking fun at your enforced regiment already. But seriously, he’s got a point to be concerned so just enjoy it while he gets you all the stuff that’s good for you and baby. 🙂
    Oh, does he know he should cut your toenails for you too? Don’t strain that back n belly doin it yourself! Heh heh.

  11. crummb Says:

    daphne: any time! when are you coming back for a break?

    sooch: man, i should just introduce you to Z. you two will get on like a house on fire! hey, have you popped yet?

  12. Janalin Tan Says:

    The way you write about Z is so refreshingly wicked and funny. You are a riot. I have a question: Do you share recipes? Or do you take orders? You see….I have a really really big problem, I am currently very very INTO and ADDICTED to whipped buttermilk frosting on cupcakes. In case you are suspicious that I may just want to steal your recipes and sell it for my own, let me assure you that there is a true story behind my request. Here’s the gist of it….I’ve never eaten cupcakes ‘cos I don’t like the ones with solid frosting…..but ever since we watched that episode of Flash Forward where D. Gibbons presents a box of her creamy cupcakes to the FBI team, my hubs and I were hooked. From then on, we were on a mission to find cupcakes that looked like that. Just when it seemed to be a futile search (it got abit unnerving when I dreamt that I was a pacman on a D.Gibbon cupcake doing you know….what pacman does best), one fine day, my hubs and I were walking past Everything With Fries when we caught sight of their cupcakes with those same generous swirls of whipped cream. Thing is I just want the cream….and I remembered that your blog featured the very same cream ….and I was wondering if ….well, do you take orders to just make cream? I understand that you are under strict orders not to do anything in the kitchen, so i am prepared to wait till after you deliver. But I just had to ask….you see, I really believe in hope.

  13. daphnechan00 Says:

    dunno when leh… all I know is my to-eat list for when i am back is growing ! haha and my royal baker’s rich choc cake is definitely on the list! haha!

  14. Cholly Says:

    The cake looks yummy and frosting is nicely done! I really enjoy reading your blog. Always brings a smile on. I hope you won’t stop blogging. It’s always nice to find a blog that is not an excuse at bragging. Yours is well written and down to earth. Oh yes, and the photos are great too. Cheers!

  15. vivian Says:

    OMG I love ur new cake! those black specks are tea leaves, right?

    anyway, shall not elaborate here just in case this comment turns into a ‘spoiler’. but it’s really yummy… =p

  16. crummb Says:

    janalin: i saw the very same episode of Flash Forward! i remember thinking, ‘gosh, if i ate that cupcake, i will grow a third butt’. anyway, which particular frosting are you referring to? i don’t remember making one with buttermilk. but either way it shouldn’t be a problem. frostings are easy to make! lemme know which one and i’ll see what i can do 🙂

    cholly: thank you very much! as long as i keep baking, i will keep blogging. it’s my only outlet for writing, y’see 🙂

    vivian: i am SO HAPPY you like it!! yes, it’s an Earl Grey Tea pound cake and i am sooooo pleased with it. the black specks are Earl Grey tea dust. yummy right? i’ve made two already and i feel like making another one! will blog about it next time!

  17. vivian Says:

    What is earl grey dust? it has a fairy sound to it, like if i eat it i’ll have a never ending cup of earl grey tea! but yes, yummy! a few other ppl tried bits off my piece and they were wowed!

  18. crummb Says:

    vivian: haha, earl grey tea dust is simply the small specks of tea inside an earl grey teabag! i’ll need to make another one for Z for shoot for my next blog post. so will pass the cake to you when we’re done 🙂

  19. Z Says:

    earl grey dust…sniffin’ power for the Saxon chief…
    dont sneeze…

  20. chris Says:

    90 cm oven!!! *ooh*

  21. crummb Says:

    chris: the machine is a thing of beauty! so far, the heat distribution is fantastically even. everything i made so far came up tops! money well spent!

  22. vivian Says:

    ohh…. so looking forward to work everyday now!

  23. LT Wong Says:

    Your blog is hilarious, and I didn’t realise you are such a cakeoholic. How did you manage to keep the cream and mascarpone frosting from melting in the current weather – did you use a higher proportion of the cheese?

  24. crummb Says:

    lt wong: hello! actually i used whipping cream that has stabilisers in it. i’ve learnt that this is the only type of whipping cream suitable in our weather! i think mascarpone can stabilise whipping cream quite well too, but i was very kiasu so i double-whammied it with stabilised whipping cream. in the end it turned out too stiff! (as you can see from the patchy, concrete-like texture) oh well, i learn something new every day 🙂

  25. xy Says:

    Hola babe! How are you? The cake looks fab! Am watching Cake Boss right now (while doing homework, gah!!!) – it’s this new show here about these amazing bakers who come up with the craziest concoctions, from male strippers cake for a hen night party to a zombie cake complete with entrails etc for a zombie-theme party. K and I are just watching with my mouths open, and we thought of you! Anyway, hope all is well with your new babies 😉 take care.

    • crummb Says:

      i’ve heard about this show!!!! but don’t know how to get hold of it. hopefully it comes out on DVD! me and my babies are doing great. hope you’re having fun over there. when you coming back?

      • angelia Says:

        cake boss is airing on Travel & Living (starhub cableTV ch 16) at the moment but i’m not very sure of the timings..

  26. janalin tan Says:

    Hey hey, I’m so so happy you replied. Sorry for my tardiness. I looked back at your archives and found the post — It is dated Aug 1, 2008: Choc Mayo Cupcake with Caramel Buttercream. It really looks like the stuff they have at Everything With Fries….but I’m not sure of the taste though. Incidentally, have you tried E.W.F cupcake? I’m just wondering if the tastes are the same. If they are, then I’m ordering my buttercream pur-lease. How much do you charge for buttercream? Say about 1 liter of it. Thanks so so much.

    • crummb Says:

      sorry dear, haven’t been to EWF. haven’t been out much period! but caramel buttercream should all taste pretty much the same, only difference is intensity of the caramel. i can make one batch for you: which can fill about two of those plastic ta-pow boxes from Crystal Jade… enough to frost about 50 cupcakes. say, $15? too much? lemme know! but i won’t be able to do this until january. that ok?

  27. kahling Says:

    Hi, Can i ask where i can get the candles on your dad’s birthday cake? i have to bake a birthday cake for an aunt and these candles are just perfect. But my cake is nowhere as ambitious as yours though. Thanks

    • crummb Says:

      hi there! i got them from Holland Village, in that old, old shop next to Body Shop that sells party decorations. you gotta ask the uncle for it though. he keeps it in his drawer 🙂

      • crummb Says:

        oh wait! i just went to Phoon Huat and they have these numeral candles too. the candles are in better condition and they’re cheaper too (about 60 cents each).

  28. faridah Says:

    great to see your post again – heard about your house reno & your newly ariston oven. hmmm…..high time for me to get one too.

  29. angelia Says:

    may i know where did u get the whipping cream with stabilisers? what brand? how much? thanks.

    I’m not a fan of buttercream cos i find it too sweet (cos need lotsa sugar for it to be firm enough to pipe) 😛


    • crummb Says:

      hello, i use Millac from phoon huat. i used the entire 1-litre carton to frost this two-tier cake. hope this helps 🙂

      • angelia Says:

        thanks! will check it out when i drop by PH. the 2 nearest branch were closed down 😦

  30. Susan Says:

    Such a beautiful cake! You said this fed 30 people? It looks bigger. What size cake pans did you use? What kind of cake was inside? Are you willing to share the recipe for the icing? Thanks!

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