Tuesday, May 08, 2007

In The Mood For Cake

Its not very often that I bake. I much prefer eating cakes which is also why I don't bake. I simply can't enjoy the cakes that I bake. Even when they are good, and I know they are good, somehow I can't seem to surrender to the same satisfaction I get from eating cakes baked by someone else. It got me started thinking about the cakes that have left their crumb print on me through the years.
The first cake, forever my sweetheart, has to be the humble pandan chiffon cake. It brings back fond memories of me sitting at the kitchen table in my primary school uniform. "Don't shake your legs or they will swell up to the size of an elephant!" and "If you eat fish you'll be able to swim like one" were just a few of many tall stories Mum would say to me at the table. It didn't occur to me then that my Mum couldn't swim herself despite eating plenty of fish. Eating at the table was our time together. My Mum was never very communicative and feeding me was how she loved me. She would make me a milo while I'd help myself to a giant slice of pale green pandan chiffon. I'd squeeze the life out of it and remould it into a neat compact cube. She would give me a stern look but she would cut me another slice anyway. She started buying the orange ones later on but I never grew as fond of the orange flavoured one as I did the pandan.

Every birthday and anniversary of my grandparents meant two things: 1) a three hour journey back to Ipoh with non-stop Tom Jones. Why, why, why Delilah indeed! 2) butter cake with pink and yellow piped icing. Twenty years ago, on my grandparent's 50th anniversary, there was a magnificent 5-tiered butter cake. It stood on the stage at the Chinese Assembly Hall where the grand dinner was held. I remember thinking it was the most beautiful cake I had ever seen. It was sight to behold back then. After the party ended, Cuz and I quickly volunteered to carry parts of the cake to the car so that we could dig our grubby little fingers into the icing. We were scared shitless we were going to be caned by Grandma but we just couldn't stop until half the cake was pockmarked with excavated icing. We were never found out, the adults were too drunk and hungover the next day to care. I think rats were blamed. Until this day we still eat the same cake made from the same lady whenever we are in Ipoh.

Remember when La Manilla was the bakery to buy your cakes from? If you don't remember, that means you were born in the 90s and you better not call me Aunty when you see me! It was a cute corner shop in Ampang Jaya and they were most famous for their chocolate and banana cake. It was the talk of the town (okay maybe just among my parent's friends). No one had heard of such a thing! Until La Manilla came along, we were still eating black forest cakes from Angel Cake House. Not that theres anything wrong with Angel Cake House. Their star has faded into light as more and more bakeries popped up over the years offering cakes that were not just decorated with butter cream and wafer roses. They still makes the best sponge cakes. I loved the crazy assortment of waxy buttercream coated cakes. I especially liked those with colourful jam-filled tops. We would go quite regularly when I was a child. Mum would always let me pick a few, we always bought nine because it fit into the box perfectly. I always ate the chocolate one with a solid chocolate top and chocolate sprinkles all along the side. Hmmm, looking back, my mum really, really loved me!

Then there came Alexis in the 90's. Who knew that it would be the start of cafe society in KL? A little trivia about Alexis. It was almost named Culture Vulture but was thankfully changed to Alexis after the salacious character Alexis Carrington/Colby from Dynasty. Anyway, I think my friends and I spent almost every other night of our summer holidays eating cake and drinking lattes at Alexis. The pivotal cake of course being the most unauthentic tiramisu ever. Okay, so it originated from Suchan but Alexis elevated this fake into what it is today and that is, still the best faux tiramisu cake ever! The only thing that is remotely close to tiramisu is the mascarpone cream they use to sandwich the sponge layers together.

There was a sponge cake that was a cut above the rest. It was the lightest sponge I have ever tasted. It was a simple cake with assorted fruits set in jelly on top. This holds bittersweet memories for me. My late Aunt always bought this cake for me because she remembered I liked it so much the one time we had it on Poh Poh's birthday. My Aunt never married and was always fantastic with us niece and nephews. I'm grateful we got to go on holiday to Korea before her cancer took a turn for the worse. The last time I got to eat this cake was on my 21st birthday. May you be at peace wherever you are.
Today I baked a cake. I've been wanting to make this cake since I saw it in Mum's Womans Day magazine. It was a simple recipe for a lamington sponge cake. What sold me was the 10g of butter. What the hey? I think I use 10g of butter on one slice of toast and here is this recipe that requires the same miniscule amount for 2 sponge cakes! I'm not sure if it was because I may have used plain instead of self raising flour. I did think at one point while folding the flour into the egg and sugar mixture, that it just wasn't going to rise to the occasion. Still my lamington sponge was tasty if not a tad flat and dense. Grated coconut dusted over chocolate coated sponge, sandwiched with freshly whipped cream and a dollop of Duchy's Original Morello Cherry conserve is hard to go wrong. I'm going to try and make it again over the weekend. Damnit! I'm going to make the sponge rise higher than the twin towers. Like the Emperor summoning Darth Vader, "Rissse".

11 comments:

  1. I found someone who not very often bake too!

    Wooo...that cake looks like a gigantic Oreo cookie!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I like that Darth Vader reference! Nice write up abt the cakes and yes, I do remember La Manila so I must be "knowledgeable". That was the Filipino cake craze time. Good luck with the cake this weekend.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hehhehh, what a cute post. Cute pics and sheeit, yr Mum was cuuute back in the day. Hey bring some Vader cake over on Sat!

    ReplyDelete
  4. yayaya... the cakes look like big Oreo biscuit to me too!! Nice the lovely old time picture

    ReplyDelete
  5. wow i simply loved your account on your cake experiences. since i'm oredi in aunty's age, yes, i was definitely in the angel cake's coffee sponge cake and la manila's black forest cake craze!

    not to be left out was tiramisu in bonton which shares the same recipe as alexis/suchan since sue chan was former from bonton.

    hope your cake gonna turn out to be the best this weekend ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Mmmm giant Oreo cookie! I'm getting a toothache thinking it!

    Heh heh heh, I'm glad everybody is as "mature" as I am. Rafs, I will definitely bring some if it turns out. If you see me empty handed, don't ask! :-(

    Babe, thanks for reminding me about Bon Ton. Completely forgot about that. I'm trying to remember whether I ever ate tiramisu there. Hmmm, I think I was too in love with their brown bread ice cream then. Divine! Ooooh brown bread ice creammmmmm

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thanks for stopping by. Yes, it's sourdough and press the flag, you'll read the recipe in English.

    ReplyDelete
  8. actually, after la manila, came bonton...and around the same time, chinoz, and cocomo, which were the only cakes i'd eat, after angel fell from grace. (oh, i just read babe's comment after typing this, so obviously we're on the same page and era). then a whole slew of cake places, including alexis ...and su chan, sprouted like mushrooms.

    i remember when i first tried la manilla banoffee cake, i thought it was the best thing on earth. now i look at it, and thing, omigawd, did i actually eat that non dairy creamer? eugh, gross me out.

    my earliest memory of bonton wasnt the tiramisu, but the sicilian cheesecake, which was at that time, orgasmic. not sure if it will produce the same desired effect with age, and wisdom.

    question: your grated coconut, its just the one you buy for santan right? unsqueezed?

    ReplyDelete
  9. Yea I know what you mean! I can't bring myself to eat those buttercream beauties from Angel now. Yes thats freshly grated coconut. I usually squeeze the milk out first but this was unsqueezed. I usually freeze the grated coconut after. It stores well in the freezer. I find dessicated coconut bought from the store taste like suntan oil!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hahaha....I know about La Manila..and yes, I've been called Auntie...Cute shots of yesteryear.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hi. Just stumbled upon this post and loved it for the reminiscence of cakes {which I love} and for the faux-tiramisu which I just ate yesterday.
    :)

    ReplyDelete