When a food critic turns the poison pen on herself

Noelle’s 3rd birthday cake November 8, 2010

Filed under: Birthday cakes — crummb @ 10:42 am
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Kids birthday parties are absolutely exhausting. Last Friday, when my daughter E’s party was winding down to a close, I actually slumped into my sofa and, with mouth slightly ajar, fell asleep when there were still two guests left in the house.

It wasn’t even a big party. All the food was ordered in, and I had my mum and aunt to help with the serving. What made it draining, I realise, was the pressure of wanting to throw a better party than last year’s; this inner competition where I wanted to out-Martha Martha. So I went about making 15 huge paper pom-poms, which took close to 5 hours, to hang all over the house. There was this lovely cascading cluster over the dining table, and a few other explosions at various corners of the house.

There was also a theme. Since E loves to play waitress, we got godma C to make her little menus listing the food to be served at the party, so she could go around asking the guests for their orders. We put on her the most waitressy outfit we could rustle up from her wardrobe, and made a waitress name tag to go with it too.

As for the cake, ahem, I do believe that I outdid the one last year. And I humbly give credit to Naomi of Hello Naomi and Louise of for the inspiration. It had a giant strawberry, a giant swirl of whipped cream, and giant sprinkles all made out of sugar. Some of the kids thought the cake was a toy. Success!

When the party was over and we were clearing up, I turned to my husband Z and asked, “How many more birthday parties are we gonna throw for her?” Because, I cannot imagine outdoing myself every year. Before you know it, I’ll be hiring the entire Cirque du Soleil, and making a cake with a cannon inside that will shoot fireworks into the night sky.

“For as long as she wants to spend her birthday with us, I s’pose,” Z replied. And sigh, he’s right. There are only so many years E will think it’s cool to have her parents sing Happy Birthday for her, before she starts shopping for barbecue gear so she and her friends can have overnight cookouts at a Changi chalet. Which means I have only a handful of years left to make her cakes, fuss over the food and devise costumes. So I’m still game. Next year, I will make 20 pom-poms.



Kids Cakes October 13, 2010

Filed under: Birthday cakes — crummb @ 2:05 pm
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If you ever want to make me nervous, just ask me to make a kid’s birthday cake. But if you want me to really tremble in my housewife’s slippers, tell me it is for a boy.

You see, I don’t have a son. I have no idea what makes them tick (or tear down the house). I think Thomas & Friends is the nuttiest TV show on earth. I mean, talking trains? What’s so fun about that? Or dinosaurs? Or cars? Or anything that moves fast and puffs smoke? They’re noisy and they smell.

So thankfully, when M asked me to make a cake for her son Ollie’s 3rd birthday, she had only one criterion. Ollie loves gummies and so she wanted them on a cake. Okay, this I can do. I’ll put them on bamboo skewers and stick them into a little balloon cart, my tribute to the animation movie Up (if you haven’t seen it, the 4-minute montage of a lifelong marriage is worth an Oscar by itself).

But man, it was hard work. It took hours to cut, texture and stick together the cart. The little helium canister threatened to drop off, the cart started falling apart, the wheels couldn’t support the weight, the gummy sticks kept tilting downwards. By the time M came to pick up the cake, I looked like I’d just walked through a car wash.

Cakes for little girls, on the other hand, are a complete breeze. You just make cute little strawberries, cut out little flowers and leaves, stick them on the cake and that is it. After S came to pick up this 3-tier cake for her daughter Jayna, I could actually go out to attend a wedding like a normal person and even emitted no foul odours.

I know I’m probably scaring off all my friends who have sons. But don’t worry (especially Clara, Yee Hwa, Jo and Hun Ching!), I will always make your boys’ birthday cakes if you want.

There are always sedatives (for me, not your sons).


Noelle’s mini bundt cake tower November 5, 2008


I’VE been stewing in this conundrum for months: What cake should I make for En En’s first birthday? It should be special enough to befit her very first birthday cake, yet not so spectacular that it couldn’t be topped. After all, since I’ll be insisting on making all her birthday cakes until I croak, there’d better be some room for improvement.

How about a two-tier fondant-covered pink cake with polka dots and flowers? Or a retro cake baked in the shape of numeral 1? Or an over-the-top strawberry shortcake – which is my favourite – since it’s as much a mother’s day as it is a baby’s day?

Then last week, I was surfing the net for cake ideas when I came across a mini bundt cake. Then I thought, why not make a lot, then pile them up into a tower? So I promptly went out to buy a mini bundt cake pan, which is made of silicone and cost a hefty $27.60 at Pantry Magic (it’s daylight robbery, but like I always say – Just gotta have it).


The cakes were basic brown sugar butter cakes drizzled over with mandarin orange icing (The oranges, which A’s father gave my husband Z as thanks for his services at C&A’s wedding, were just lying around, haha).

For an extra lashing of love, I broke out my brand new Nigella Lawson cakestand from its box and used it for the first time. Now En En will have no doubt that Mamma loves her.

The tower was easy to make and assemble. Not so easy was taking a photo with En En in it.

The idea was to get her to sit by the table so only her eyes can be seen peering at the cake.  But she insisted on standing, and grabbing the knife box nearby, and swinging it around like a bat, and aiming at the cake.

Therefore the look of slight terror on my face (I wasn’t supposed to be in the shot but husband/photogragher Z doesn’t always follow instructions).

Anyway, one year ago, I produced the best thing I’ve ever set my heart – and lost my waistline – to. Happy birthday, Mamma’s mini bundt cake!


Even Better Than The Real Thing May 22, 2008

Filed under: Birthday cakes — crummb @ 1:27 am
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STRIPES, babies, buttons – I thought I had exhausted the whole chocolate-cake-with-fondant-cut-outs design. But then D wanted a birthday cake for her mum and sis (who share the same birthday) and showed me a website with a chocolate cake with cute, retro circles on it. She wanted me to copy it and have the circles in ivory and rose.

And whaddya know. In my humblestest opinion, I think my version kicked the original’s ass (C’mon D, back me up here. Just click on Comments. See it? Good).


Say It Ain’t Sew May 19, 2008

Filed under: Birthday cakes — crummb @ 11:16 pm
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I had grand intentions for S’s birthday cake. It was to be a two-tier chocolate ganache cake with pink and aqua fondant buttons attached to the sides. She is, after all, co-owner du jour of Swirl, a gorgeous boutique of very pretty clothes.

But I was lazy and decided not to cut off the dome of the upper tier. And the whole cake ended up looking like some sad, inverted, asymmetrical mushroom. I had no choice but to chuck the top tier and present just the bottom one – a small, 7-inch cake – to S the next day.

As if it wasn’t bad enough, the buttons melted in my car as I drove to the office. But S, ever appreciative S, was still thrilled by it. If my lurve is happy, I’m happy.