Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Necessity is the mother of invention

When I took the plunge and bought a second fridge last year, I was absolutely convinced it would put an end to my storage capacity problems. Between accommodating the ordinary needs of household consumption (albeit a rather greedy household), and those of gearing up for a weekend such as this, fridge space is always at a premium. Fast forward one year later, and I find myself dreaming of a third fridge, seeing as the existing two are now bursting at the seams. But that will remain a fantasy until the day we find ourselves in a larger home. W has wryly observed that every storage solution which crosses my path - be it a new fridge, one more bookcase, an extra tableware cabinet, or yet another shoe rack - has an interesting habit of turning into part of the storage capacity problem itself. Extra storage realty triggers my, erm, acquisition disorder, which in turn ensures I somehow manage to outgrow whatever additional purported solution, thus necessitating yet more storage realty.

But I ramble. My working solution to the fridge space issue is to "process" leftovers as soon as possible when they appear. Calling it processing leftovers makes it all sound far more of a bore than it actually is, because many of my favourite things, quite frankly, were born out of the needs to not toss out perfectly good food and to clear fridge space.

It is not a weekend such as this per se which produces prodigious leftovers, seeing as all the math has been done and I am able to prepare accordingly. It is the testing and re-testing of recipes - which takes place way in advance of any such weekend - that results in leftovers of sizeable volume. Take for instance this lime and lemon curd. Whilst testing recipes, I had originally intended to use it strictly for filling lemon cupcakes. I had a fair bit leftover from preparing a batch without having scaled down the quantities to what was modestly required for filling a dozen or so cupcakes...A whole Kilner jar-full, to be exact. In other words, far more than what could be consumed on morning toast for two before most of it goes to waste.

Fortunately, I also had quite a few spare coconut cake layers and a large tupperware's worth of coconut buttercream lying around (again, leftovers from recipe testing). And so came along the happy accident; I have to confess that this citrus curd-sandwiched variation on the tall coconut layer cake theme is hands-down my favourite one, as the tartness of the filling cuts through the richness of the cake and buttercream.

And because I didn't want to generate yet more leftovers from decorative flourishes whilst processing leftovers, I deliberately kept the finishing fairly spare, although I do feel that sheer simplicity is part of the beauty of a homespun layer cake.
PS: Speaking of citrus curd, Cupcake Workshop Level 2 is back! There will be 6 sessions of this hands-on workshop, held on 8 August 2008 (Friday), 9 August 2008 (Saturday), 10 August 2008 (Sunday), and 22 August 2008 (Friday), 23 August 2008 (Saturday), 24 August 2008 (Sunday) at Shermay's Cooking School. The August schedule has all the details; for inquiries, please call +65 6479 8442 or email

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Summertime, And the livin' is easy

I often feel extremely fortunate to be doing what I do. Quite aside from having lucked out and finding the perfect reason to obsess as much about dessert as I already do, I find many aspects of the flurry of preparations leading up to a class such as this thoroughly enjoyable. One of my favourite aspects has to be the delicious dilemma I find myself in when trying to shortlist which recipes might fit the bill - so many recipes, so little time, especially bearing in mind that each session is about 3 hours long. Which is where the bonus recipes come in handy, by letting me sneak in an extra recipe or two or three that I may not have time to show-and-tell, but are so easy and so useful to know I feel compelled to include them. Often, these are chosen based on their ability to give "mileage" to the main recipes being demonstrated, allowing a minor tweak here and there to give a brand new spin to the dessert in question. I like to think of it in wardrobe terms - you don't always need a new frock to feel like you're wearing a new frock, sometimes all a girl needs is a new pair of killer heels (or insert whatever else is your accessory fetish) to feel like she's breathed life into her capsule collection of beloved old staples.

If I could possibly sum up the mood of this particular line-up in one word (ok, more like a string of words...remember, I can't even keep myself to a set recipe count!), it would be retro, nostalgic, and comforting. The bulk of preparation prior to class itself (ie. when I actually have to be physically present at the school) takes place within the confines of my own kitchen, where I've been - you've guessed it - listening to Gershwin jazz standards while I bake as of late!

The Lemon Grove Cupcakes can be topped by a Rose Water Glaze - quite aside from the affinity the flavours have for each other, I'll confess that I was quite simply taken by the new rose water from Nielsen-Massey and wanted to include a recipe using it.

The classic coconut layer cake gets an exotic island cocktail spin thanks to a pineapple filling flavoured with lime, dark rum and Madagascar Bourbon vanilla bean...

Presto, a PiƱa Colada Cake!

Done as cupcakes, I couldn't resist sticking in a paper brolly - I hope I'm not the only person around here with a weakness for naff cocktails!
PS: For all inquiries about the sessions on 12 July 2008 , 13 July 2008 , 26 July 2008 and 27 July 2008, please call the school directly at +65 6479 8442 or email