When a food critic turns the poison pen on herself

bakeware giveaway! April 28, 2010

Filed under: Inane stuff — crummb @ 12:46 am

Back when I first started this blog and my daily readership was in the low 2-digits, my husband Z would jokingly suggest that I hold lucky draws to jack up the hits. Don’t be silly, I’d say. Slowly but surely, hordes of people will read me because they will find it impossible to resist my melodious writing, insightful musings and sparkling wit.

Well, today, I am eating my words. I am offering to give away my bakeware absolutely FREE because times are hard. Maybe it’s because Singapore just opened two casinos and everyone’s gone gambling. But suddenly, nobody’s reading my blog — my readership stats has dropped back to my early BC (Before Cupcake) days. My ego is getting deflated faster than my worst sponge cake.

And besides, I really need to make room on my baking shelf for my steadily increasing collection of cake decorating tools. You’d be happy to know that the following items are all in tip-top condition. Drop a comment or email me if you’re interested. Can come collect at my place.

(Clockwise from left; daughter not for sale:)

Item #1: Red and pink polka dotted cupcake cases. Original price: $9.90 per tube. I pounced on them the second I saw them at Kitchen Capers because they were the most adorable cases I’ve ever seen. But in my haste, I failed to notice that they were only 1cm high, which would make cupcakes that are thinner than I like. Grab them if you’re into making madeleines or thin cupcakes. The pink one is not even opened.

Item #2: Loaf pan (Original price: Can’t remember… It wasn’t cheap. From Phoon Huat). I have two of these and I bought them BEFORE I realised their dimensions weren’t right for most of my pound cakes.

Item #3: Cookbook stand (Original price: Don’t know, it was a gift from Z). In my naive early days of baking, I thought having a cookbook stand would solve all my problems – no more yucky stains and bits of flour on my precious books! But it has since become obsolete. Most of my cookbooks are thick, hulky tomes that cannot fit into this svelte gadget. Z is aghast that I’m giving his gift away, but my rationale is: sentimental white elephant or neat, sleek baking shelf? Case closed.

Item #4: Dark metal 12-hole muffin pan (Original price: Can’t remember. From Phoon Huat). Nothing wrong with this, I’ve been using it for three years. But lately I am on a cakezilla mission to use only aluminium pans in all my baking. These pans work just fine if you turn down your oven temperature by 10 deg C from what’s stated in the recipe. Therefore I am not giving away a dud.

Item #5: Aluminium 12-hole cupcake pan (Original price: about $7). In my search for aluminium cupcake pans, I got this even though the holes are shallower than normal muffin pans. I thought they’d still be able to hold up the cases, but no, the cupcakes spread out a little too much for me. Good for madeleines though.

Item #6: Three-sided jagged scraper (Original price: about $3). Why am I giving this away? Cos I already had one at home when I bought this. Duh.

Item #7: Bundt pan (Original price: Can’t remember, not cheap). Same reason why I’m giving away the muffin pan.

So there you have it. Call me call me call me. I really need to offload these extras so that my baking shelf can be neat and trim like a showroom centrepiece. Me and my inner Martha thank you.


Abstract sugarflowers April 1, 2010

Filed under: Inane stuff — crummb @ 12:23 am
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The last time I lost sleep over homework, Bill Clinton was still president, Jamiroquai was the It band, and I could fit into UK size 10 jeans — which is to say, it was a very long time ago.

But there I was, last Friday night, sprawled out in bed with my eyes wide open and thinking, “The teacher is gonna HATE it!” I had just put together the final project for my 5-week course in sugarflowers, and to put it delicately, it didn’t turn out the way I had envisioned it. It plain sucked.

We had to decorate a 2-tier cake any way we liked. And, with grand plans to impress, I covered not 2, but 3 tiers of styrofoam cake rounds with avocado-coloured fondant. Then, I stuck on leaves of three different shades of green in a swag formation, held up by white carnations. The bright idea was to create thick flower and leaf cut-outs so they look like felt appliques. But the cake ended up looking like a bloody Lego tower put together by a 6-year-old.

Aghast and unable to sleep, I plucked out the leaves and started scrambling for plan B. Out of sheer desperation, I took out my round cutters the next morning and created these abstract flowers in pink, the only colour that could perk up the vomitous avocado shade. They turned out surprisingly well, but with just hours to go before I was to head off to class, I only had enough flowers to form one row.

At class, the teacher was neither horrified nor impressed. “Not bad for something done out of desperation,” she said. But back home, my husband Z was a lot more blunt. Eyeing the pukey-green and uneven, embattled fondant, he said after taking these pictures: “My photos make your cake look good.” Wow, thanks.

In a moment of abject self-doubt, I asked him, Am I a better writer than a baker? Should I forget about this cake-making business and just stick with journalism?

He must have felt bad, because his turnaround was swift. He raised an arm skyward a la Hamlet. “No,” he pronounced. “The literary world has lost its brightest star, because the baking world has discovered…” and pauses for dramatic effect, “a  supernova!”

Right, thanks. Anyway I’ve kept the flowers and am thinking of how to re-use them on another cake. The puke fondant? I trashed them the second these photos were shot. Adios.