When a food critic turns the poison pen on herself

Taking a vote July 28, 2010

Filed under: Wedding cakes — crummb @ 2:23 pm

I am feeling like an absolute idiot. After announcing in my previous post that my bakery will be called Crumb with one ‘m’, I am thinking maybe I’ll go back to Crummb after all.

Why? Because two friends have reacted with rather loud ‘But why?!!’s (with two exclamation marks). So I explained to them that it is in keeping with my brand new image as purveyor of fine, sophisticated cakes — that a baker who can’t spell is almost as bad as a chef who is skinny.

“But Crummb is cute what,” they said.

My husband Z added fuel to the fire. “They’re right what. Crumb sounds so ordinary and cheap. Crummb has more personality.”

Oh good grief. I am having a bigger identity crisis than Lady Gaga. Lucky I haven’t printed out the business cards yet.

So I have decided to ask you, whoever is reading out there, to vote. Look at these 6 cakes I’ve made for my website portfolio, and tell me which is more appropriate to my style: Crumb or Crummb?

Help me out, guys. I, as always, aim to please 🙂







Introducing… Crumb! July 20, 2010

Filed under: Inane stuff,Wedding cakes — crummb @ 11:12 pm

It’s safe to announce it now: I’ve handed in my letter, hung up my poison pen, polished my KitchenAid, and am finally going into business! YES!

Three years ago, I — and practically half of the baking fraternity around the globe — dreamt of opening a home bakery selling cupcakes, because they’re easy to do and oh-so trendy. But a friend urged me to aim higher. So thanks, Jenny, for putting the idea in my head. I am now a bona fide wedding cake maker!

I don’t just do weddings though. Birthdays, anniversaries, engagements, proposals — any occasion that calls for a special cake with hand-made sugarpaste work. I’ll work from home as a one-woman show (two-women if you include my maid who will help with the washing) so even though I can’t stand the word, this makes me an ‘artisan’. Ahem.

I’m now serving one month’s notice (three weeks left!) before I quit the newspaper for good. If you’ve been wondering why I’ve suddenly gone all silent over the past few months, it’s because I’ve been busy preparing my cake portfolio for my business website. It’s still a work in progress but you can see some of my work here. Oh, the bakery is called Crumb with a single ‘m’ now. The double ‘m’ was cute for a blog, but I reckon proper spelling is essential if I wanna be taken seriously. Would you spend $700 bucks on a birthday cake made by a bakery that couldn’t spell? Ah don’t think so.

It’s been one helluva ride getting here so thank-yous are in order:

Jenny Tan, for planting the seed

Christopher Tan, for being a 24-hour helpline when I was (and still am) navigating the mysterious seas of baking

Lynn Ng, Jessica Tan, Charmayne Yap and Clarissa Oon for having sheer courage in letting this total novice make your wedding cakes

Suzanne Sng, Charmayne Yap (again!), Linda Jim, Tan Hsueh Yun, Weylin Liew for not laughing

My husband Z, for surviving on delivery pizza and showing unquestioning support while I baked, even though you were motivated by the money I’m gonna make so you can quit your job and hang out with skaters full-time.

I love you all! And now it’s time to bake.


A&R’s Tiffany blue wedding cake November 26, 2009

Filed under: Wedding cakes — crummb @ 2:42 pm
Tags: , , ,

Here’s the thing about making wedding cakes. Baking and decorating a 9/7/5-inch three-tier is like tackling Mount Everest right there at your kitchen table. But once it’s conquered and displayed at a big venue, it can suddenly shrink into a blink-and-you-miss backside pimple.

Case in point: the cake I made for my cousin Ricky’s wedding last week. The venue was One 15 Marina Club in Sentosa Cove, and it was the first time my cake was to be cut on stage in a grand ballroom.

Ricky’s fiancee Amy said it was a “small” stage so the cake wouldn’t look out of place. And as I was hauling my cakes out the front door to the car, it sure had the heft that befitted the occasion: The thick bottom tier, which itself was made up of two tiers to reach 6 inches in height, was so heavy that I had to stop twice to take breathers.

But once I got to the ballroom, the cakes instantly shrivelled up to look like last week’s muffins. It wasn’t because the stage was huge. It was because there was a cake-cutting table there, and sitting on it, a gargantuan, skyscraping fake cake covered in fake fondant and fake roses. To complete the blinding visual assault, it was topped with an enormous nest made of fake twigs and fake birds.

I asked the banquet manager to remove it so I can place my cake in its place. And he went blank for 5 long seconds.

“Take the fake cake away?” he said, looking at my shrivelled muffin, then looking back at his aviarius masterpiece. What he was really saying was, What? You want me to replace this magnum opus with that zit of a cake??!

“Ya,” I said, defending myself meekly, “I have three tiers.”

“Oh,” he said, and, with a slight frown still attached to his face, removed the jacuzzi-sized foam monstrosity.

I proceeded to assemble my cake. Once completed and placed on the table, it was only one-tenth the size of the ginormous tweeting wonder. If you’ve ever wondered what it felt like for David to face the mighty Goliath, just ask my cake.

But when it was cake-cutting time, at least Amy and Ricky were able to run the knife down a real cake, with real buttercream and real fondant — and not some insipid slit pre-cut into a foam block.

Call me old-fashioned. But when it comes to wedding cakes, nothing beats the real thing — backside pimple or not.



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


C&HM’s wedding cupcakes December 15, 2008

Filed under: Cupcakes,Wedding cakes — crummb @ 11:07 pm
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I MADE 100 cupcakes for Clare’s wedding last month. For a former theatre critic who could articulate a theory for everything – from why certain men are commitment-phobes to why a salad works – she was amazingly straight-forward with her cupcakes. Her only three specifics to me were: banana, green tea and white chocolate.

But I don’t wanna go into how fun it was to pair the flavours to create three different combos (banana cake + caramel buttercream; brown sugar cake + green tea buttercream; orange cake + white chocolate frosting).

Or about how baking the cupcakes (at a turtle-paced 12 at a time) started five days before the big day, which led me to miss the karaoke hen night because my last batch of batter was still sitting on my counter, waiting for its turn in the oven. I had serious plans to belt S Club 7, folks.

Or about how, when I was decorating the cupcakes the night before the wedding, my vision of pretty buttercream wreaths draping across the brown sugar cakes was shattered because, simply put, my piping skills suck. So I had to improvise and do something much simpler, and let my hand-made sugarpaste roses be the anchorpiece.

Or especially about how I made the white chocolate frosting fives times before I got it right. Note to self: white chocolate turns into a rigid, solidified lump at high temperature very suddenly. Melt


What I really wanna talk about is how this was one wedding that had me beaming ear-to-ear all through the solemnisation and banquet, which saw our intrepid table deliver the now-legendary throat-scorching, wallpaper-peeling yum seng. (If you must know, I was the star yum-senger. Bookings welcome. Just e-mail me.)

Why? Because Clare and Hong Meng’s is a love story that defies anyone who dares lament, ‘There’s no one in the world for me.’

What are the chances of a bookworm with obscure taste in music meeting another bookworm with the same obscure taste in music? Add to that, both followers of Christ who share similar values in family, fun and food? Plenty, if you leave it to the matchmaker upstairs.

Over the years, I’d seen Clare going through relationship no-gos, braving singlehood like a champ, and jetting off to Beijing for three years as a correspondent to satiate a cultural and intellectual wanderlust.

All the while, Hong Meng, someone she’s known from church, was pretty much just waiting for her to touch down.

Sometimes, you can scour the world only to find what you’re looking for right under your nose. I love it.


C&A’s flower applique wedding cake November 13, 2008

Filed under: Wedding cakes — crummb @ 12:16 am
Tags: , , , ,

WHEN bride-to-be Charmayne found this cake design on a bridal website and email-ed it to me, I shot back: “I WANNA MAKE THIS!!!!” It was so pretty and easy-to-make, it absolutely killed me that I hadn’t come up with the idea myself. All I needed was a flower-shaped cookie cutter and I’d be all set.


Charmayne said when she was walking down the aisle in the hotel ballroom and saw the cake out front, she thought it was so pretty she almost cried. (Okay, she probably said this only because I shamelessly asked her for some ego-massage. But still.) Anyway, all hail Michelle Doll Cakes in New York for creating the design. I am but a wannabe.



J&H’s polka dot wedding cake October 29, 2008

Filed under: Wedding cakes — crummb @ 12:50 am
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IT can be done. A tall 4-inch cake can be covered with fondant and the secret is – *cymbal clash* – buy it pre-made! Two weeks ago, after my attempt using my own home-made fondant failed miserably (as detailed here), I spent a few days panicking. I won’t be able to give Jess what she wants for her wedding cake. How!

Then I remembered – ask Yoda. Every apprentice has a mentor and mine – even though he doesn’t know it – is Andy Foo, executive pastry chef of the Grand Hyatt. I interviewed him a few years ago and had turned to him to make a four-tier dummy cake for my wedding in 2006. Since then, he has been the person to call when I hit a life-threatening baking crisis.

So I email-ed him about my fondant predicament and this is what I learnt. All baking professionals buy their fondant pre-made. And the brand that Yoda, and all the top hotels and bakeries in Singapore use, is Massa Ticino from Switzerland.  It’ll have no problems covering a 4-inch tall cake, Yoda said. So I promptly drove all the way to its distributor in Defu Lane in Hougang to get a 7-kg tub.

When I cut out a slab and rolled it out, I almost wept with joy. The fondant is not sticky, and miraculously elastic and malleable. When it is thrown over a 4-inch cake, the “waves” that form around the sides can somehow stretch and contract at all the right places, wrapping the cake seamlessly. It was almost too good to be true.

What’s their secret ingredient? I don’t know. Whatever it is – even if it’s melamine – I’m their biggest fan.

Anyway, big big hugs and thanks to Chris and Sooch who offered some ideas when I sent out an SOS two weeks ago. I feel like a problem-child-made-good when I say to them (with tears welling up in eyes), “Pa, Ma, I did it!”

Click here for the making of Jessica and Han Ee’s wedding cake