Crummb

When a food critic turns the poison pen on herself

Sugar Flowers March 23, 2010

Filed under: Inane stuff — crummb @ 10:20 am
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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
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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.

BLUEBERRY CHEESECAKE

(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.