Tuesday, March 14, 2006

A Slice of Heaven

Its not often I bake. I never found baking gratifying nor therapeutic. I think its because I find it tiresome having to measure everything with precision. And I’m not clever enough to salvage a cake gone wrong. I mean, if my chocolate cake ends up more like chewy bread, I’m not going to drizzle olive oil and chopped rosemary and call it cocoa and rosemary loaf! I feel safe with cooking because I can always add and subtract along the way.

I’ve always loved butter cake with butter icing. I think it was from the many birthdays and anniversarys of my grandparents. Three times a year at least, we would make the 4 hour journey back to Ipoh; on the sometimes windy road, passing through small towns which consisted of 2 rows of shop houses whilst listening to the entire Tom Jones’ collection. We would always have butter cake with butter icing from Mrs. Chong. And like all good old-fashioned butter cakes, the icing is unabashedly tacky, and it must always be cream with pink & green piped-flowers. The most memorable cake was for my grandparents 50th anniversary, 5 tiers of glorious cream, pink and green! I almost cried when Duvei and I got to carry it. We ate up most of the icing by the time we got home. No one can make icing like Mrs. Chong. My grandfather has since passed on and my grandmother has stopped celebrating her birthdays in grand fashion. I have not had Mrs. Chong’s cake in awhile.

Aunt L heard of my penchant for butter cake and brought me a cake from Mrs. X in PJ (her identity shall remain secret as Aunt L refuses to disclose any sort of contact information, cake pictured left). I must say it was pretty darn good substitute. It is less oily, not as rich but the icing was still not quite there. It lasted all of one day in my house. That’s the sign of a good cake. Any cake that lasts more than 2 days in my house is a bad cake. The next day, on the rare occasion that I was reading the papers, I came across a recipe for old fashioned pound cake. The picture was of a cream coloured heart-shaped cake with pink & green piping! I hardly ever get excited about anything in the newspapers but this time I tore it out and pinned it to the fridge.

Today at 5pm, I turned off my lap top and went down to bake. It was raining and the weather was perfect for baking. Half an hour later, I popped my labour of love into the oven. I wasn’t convinced about the quantity of the icing so I only made half. Sure enough, it was just enough to cover the whole cake. Although, as you can see from the picture, this icing texture is meant to be piped and not spread! I am happy at the turnout. It was perfectly fluffy with the distinct salty butter taste and just the right amount of sweetness to take on the icing. Happiness! (above - before icing; right - after icing. No flowers unfortunately)

My mum thinks I should start selling my butter cake to her mah jong friends. Wow what a compliment from mum. If only I had Mrs.Chong’s icing recipe…

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