When a food critic turns the poison pen on herself

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.


(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.


Kinako chiffon cake with red bean whipped cream December 17, 2009

This is shaping up to be a sucky Christmas.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been put on a low-carb, high-fibre, no-joy diet because I’ve been diagnosed with gestational diabetes — a (hopefully) temporary condition that afflicts pregnant women on the wrong side of 35. (Nawww, really? You always thought I was 28? Gee, thanks!)

I feel like blaming my husband Z for this. If he had appeared sooner in my life, I would’ve married him earlier, gotten pregnant younger, and not have to suffer this indignity of not being able to eat anything sweet for three excruciatingly long months.

Hello? I’m a baker! How do you expect me to live when I can’t eat my cakes? To make things worse, I still have one baking cookbook to review for the paper before I go on maternity leave. I have to test at least six recipes from it to see if it’s a worthy buy, and this is where I am convinced that the stars are all lined up against me. Because, for so long, I’ve been scouring the bookstores for an English-translated book on Japanese cakes but to no avail. And now that Keiko Ishida’s Okashi has landed on my lap, and I am paid to try out its recipes, I cannot bloody taste them!

Like when I made her delicious Japanese milk madeleines. I took a smidgen of a bite (about 20 molecules in my rough estimation), just enough to register that it was light, fluffy and buttery, then quickly shoved the rest aside before I gobble up the whole thing.

Or this chiffon cake you see before you. Made with kinako, or Japanese soybean powder, and covered with red bean whipped cream (both my favourite ingredients), it was one of the first recipes I wanted to try when I first laid eyes on this gorgeous book.

The cake turned out really well, although it could’ve risen taller (which my Pa, the chiffon-cake-guru Chris said could be because there wasn’t enough baking powder). But instead of using my God-given tastebuds to see just how moist and soft it was, I was like a blind foot reflexologist — tapping the sides of the cake to see how much it bounced back. Tragic but true.

But I knew the cake was a triumph because when I gave my mother a slice, she polished it off in 10 seconds flat. “So light and not too sweet,” she raved, before rattling off a list of friends she wanted to give the cake to. I managed to wrangle a minuscule piece to taste before the cake was whisked away forever. She was right. It was super light, and the heady kinako flavour was offset by the delicate, sweet frosting. So delicious, so cannot-be-eaten.

Don’t even dare ask me for the recipe. Go buy the book and leave me alone in my misery.