When a food critic turns the poison pen on herself

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.


25 Responses to “Guilt-free Chocolate Chiffon Cake”

  1. cookie Says:

    Happy birthday Z!

  2. zann Says:

    soooo beautiful, this brought tears to my eyes. i also want (and i want the cake too please)!

    happy birthday, Z!

    • crummb Says:

      reading that this brought tears to your eyes brought tears to MY eyes!! you will get what you want, my lurve… cake included 🙂

  3. Kat Says:

    Happy Birthday to Z.. may this year hold many blessing, joys and muchly plenty happiness.. may every step you take in lifes journey bring more wonderful things…

    so good to hear from you again..your post was beautiful today Pau.. the kind that leaves you all warm and custardy inside… i know z is where he wants to be.. besides that, he’s got a wife that can make him a guilt-free (and extremely yummy looking) chocolate cake… and just you wait til those muscles start ripping.. you wont ignore him then.. ha ha ha…

    you guys are beautiful.. and you have two of the most precious gems ever in your life…

    thank you for the new post!!!

    keep well mama baker and your fam too..

    be blessed..

    with love

    • crummb Says:

      thanks for your lovely thoughts, kat. yup, those muscles are taking shape nicely. soon i may be the one getting ignored… 😛

  4. Z Says:

    Putting 2 lovely girls to bed, in a beautiful home filled with the coziest buttery scent, and watching tv with hottest baker to ever caress a kitchenaid…
    This is where i’ve always wanted to be. Thank God…and you…


    • Kat Says:

      this is what makes my day… what makes the sun shine and my heart sing..
      so beautiful.. all i can do is smile. Thank you God for bringing these to two together, and creating such amazing and magnificent miracles.. two beautiful baby girls and a gorgeous family…
      may you and your family be blessed beyond your wildest dreams…

  5. Midori Says:

    Happy birthday, Z! *hold hands with tpl and jig up and down with joy at finding good men*

  6. clare Says:

    Ohhh, everybody has tears in their eyes now, sob sob! Yes PTL!! (heheh isn’t it funny how this sounds like a scrambling of your initials?) Happy Birthday Z and hope ya all doing well, including little Kate! 🙂

    And as an aside, a cake without butter? wow. but I can imagine it, and it sure sounds nice with the mascarpone whipped cream (complete with dusting of cocoa powder?) on top.

    • crummb Says:

      yeah, all chiffon cakes are made with oil, not butter – this one with sunflower oil. without the mascarpone, the cake would be too plain i think. and yup, it is dusted with cocoa powder, a la tiramisu 🙂

  7. Z Says:

    And thanks for all the birthday wishes 🙂

  8. Trish Says:

    Happy bday z!! Crummb, Nice piping job!!!

  9. daphnechan00 Says:

    Happy birthday dude! And good luck your quest to muscledom! Love that cake, but I still want my rich rich choc cake when I come back! 😉

  10. chris Says:

    Its works! :-))
    (both the cake and marriage!)

  11. Gerard Wong Says:

    Ah Cruumb

    I loved reading this post. Very touching.

    I’m sure you and the kids had a great time celebrating your hub’s brithday

    Wishing all of you many years of happiness ahead


  12. LT Says:

    Love your blog. Love your square cake dish. Where did you get that?

  13. happyjune Says:

    i came to ur blog while i was very stressed at work. (training newbies is the pits!) reading ur blog made me smile again! so sad u’re not writing anymore.

    • crummb Says:

      thank you! i don’t write in the papers anymore but i do write here, which is better i suppose, because this is how i really write – ie, no need to incorporate boring stats, quotes, competitors’ views, and no rubbish columns that come from meeting deadlines 🙂

  14. Happy Bday Z!!!…
    Keep it up.

  15. Sapna B Arya Says:

    please send me the recipe

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