two of five on two times five

A slice of ice-cream cake topped with two [cup]cake toppers the mister drew & made (the one in the back is my favourite chibi of us!)

The past two weeks had been pretty much a blur, with lots of happenings just whizzing by one after another. This year I was blessed with an extended birthday celebration; a mini-one with the family prior to the parents’ flight, a get-together with the siblings on my birthday night, a birthday treat from the sister two days on, a movie-cum-chicken-lovin’ birthday lunch with the mister (Arnold’s can rock my socks off anytime, I tells ya!), a save-the-best-for-last fantasy celebration with the mister last Saturday, and a lil office room birthday-cum-farewell celebration with the best friend the day after my birthday.

To all who made it possible, I can never thank you enough for the love and well wishes. I feel truly blessed.

A box of the popular roasted chicken wings from East Coast for the chicken lover in me to munch in the office.

I remember vividly being rushed into the room when I was much younger, each time someone comes home with yet-to-be-wrapped presents. I would be pressing my ear against the door, with hope that someone out there will inadvertently proclaim what they got for me. Of course that never happened. And so, I would spend the following day(s) searching high and low for the presents. They would almost always be on top of the cupboard in the bedroom next door, leaving me to jump up and down my brother’s bed to have a sneak peek of what the plastic bags contained. Just knowing the colour, the shape of the box, and even some undecipherable symbols on the box would be enough for me to dream the night away.

Mickey Mouse-shaped pizza! Birthday lunch treat at Disney Naturally from the mister. Absolutely loved the Disney-themed decor; it’s definitely a must-come-back-again for the Disney lover in me. Oh, and it helped that they were screening Finding Nemo when we arrived πŸ™‚

They say that age leaves you jaded with life, particularly when it comes to birthday celebrations. That the anticipation and excitement will fade away as you grow older. To a certain extent, it is true for me. I find myself not wanting to know what my presents are, preferring instead to be [genuinely] surprised when I unwrap the beautiful packages. One of the defining traits I attained as I grew older was the dissipation of being too hopeful, lest I be disappointed. With that, I find myself appreciating the gifts and wishes I receive even more, as compared to standing by the table, armed with five hints given to me prior to my birthday, shaking the gift box, anticipating a particular Barbie doll, only to unravel a thick academic assessment book.

Moral of the story: kids have a great imagination, so don’t give them hints that would only lead them on! πŸ˜›

A beautiful drawing from the 6-year-old niece, of her (“I’m the princess, that’s why I’m wearing the tiara, and you’re not”) and myself, celebrating my birthday in her castle.

Now that I’ve turned a quarter of a century, I know that the one thing that hasn’t changed at all would be my love for chocolates and chicken [and my hatred for cheese]. But having said that, the one way to tell that I have indeed grown older would be my acceptance towards non-chocolate desserts. And in some cases, my affinity towards them.

Every of the numerous times we go to the library, the mister would find me sighing, whining, complaining about the ‘On Loan’/’In Transit’/’Reserved’ status of Dorie Greenspan’s Baking from my home to yours. After hearing too many raving reviews of this cookbook, I knew that I had to get my hands on it. And apparently I wasn’t the only one who knew that; the mister got me a copy for my birthday!

Flipping through the pages, I was awed by the enticing photography, and one of the first to catch my attention was her Cranberry Upside Down Cake. I tweaked the recipe according to what I had on hand (I used grapes instead of cranberries, and omitted the nuts and cinammon), and even then, I found myself falling head over heels with the recipe. The cake was moist and had just the right amount of sweetness. I can’t wait to try out other wonderful delights from the book. Any recommendations, anyone?

To my dearest mister, this is a tribute for you. I know that when I asked you to choose the first recipe from this book for me to bake in your name, you asked for my mac & cheese instead (haha!), but I do sincerely hope that you like these photos, i.e. the first thing I baked from the cookbook you gave for my birthday, using my very first DSLR you bought for me for my birthday. Thank you for making the impossible possible, bie. *uyuks* πŸ™‚

Grape Upside Down Cake
(adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking from my Home to yours)

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 sticks butter
1 cup minus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups seedless grapes
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup whole milk

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.
  3. Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan. Sprinkle 6 tablespoons of the sugar and cook, stirring, until the mixture comes to a boil. Pour this over the bottom of a 8 x 2 inch round cake pan. Scatter the grapes. Press down gently using your fingertips. Set this aside.
  4. Beat the remaining 8 tablespoons of butter on medium speed until smooth.
  5. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar and continue until the mixture is pale and creamy. Beat for about 3 minutes.
  6. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Pour in the vanilla.
  7. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add half of the dry ingredients, mixing only until they disappear into the batter.
  8. Mix in the milk and then the remaining dry ingredients. Spoon the batter over the grapes and smooth the top with a rubber spatula.
  9. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the cake is golden and a thin knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and run a blunt knife between the sides of the sides of the pan and the cake. Turn the cake out onto a serving platter.

20 thoughts on “two of five on two times five

  1. the mister


    I’m glad you enjoyed your birthday, luv. πŸ™‚ And I’m glad you liked the presents from me. All I can say is that you deserve that DSLR, bu! You, more than any other person I know… πŸ˜€

    As for the Dorie Greenspan book, more mooties for me!!!

    (and mac & cheese!!!) πŸ˜›


  2. jean-marie

    Good to hear you enjoying your bithday! Congrats on the DSLR, zhullie babe! πŸ˜‰ Btw, you must must must tell me where the disney restaurant is, k? And how’s the pricing like?

  3. didally

    It’s a mistake to look at your post now with an empty stomach.

    Oh you are so lucky to have that book for your birthday. I wanna get that too and Kino is having their 20% storewide sale. Hmm, maybe I should hint the husband too.

  4. thecoffeesnob

    Happy birthday, Zhul! You’re one lucky lucky girl- your very artistic guy is such a sweetheart πŸ™‚

    Recommendations? For starters, the chocolate chocolate cupcakes, mini madeleines and that gorgeous cake on the front cover. Enjoy the book!

  5. grace

    happy belated birthday! it’s always a struggle for me to decide what kind of cake i want (to make myself) for my birthday, and honestly, your grape upside-down masterpiece is looking pretty enticing… πŸ™‚

  6. ovenhaven Post author

    the mister: Thanks for the lovely gifts, bie πŸ™‚ And erm I don’t know if you’d still want my mac & cheese, since someone already knows how to whip up his own yummylicious one! πŸ˜‰

    jean: Thanks sweetz πŸ™‚ It’s at the 1st floor of Anchorpoint SC (opp IKEA). The pricing’s kinda like Bistro Deli, methinks. Hehe. Lemme know if you go!

    didally: I’m all for hinting to the hubby!!! Haha πŸ˜›

    thecoffeesnob: Thank you, dearie πŸ™‚ I sure am lucky to have such beautiful people around me. Thanks for the recommendations. I know that the chocolate chocolate cupcakes have appeared several times on your blog; must give it a try the soonest! πŸ˜€

    grace: Thanks, sweetie! πŸ™‚ I guess one can’t go wrong with a great recipe. Hehe. And I totally understand the birthday dilemma. It’s easier to bake for someone else!

  7. sweetrosie

    Happy birthday dear Zhul!
    Pretty grape cake on a lovely table-cloth, it’s a lovely photo.
    I liked the story of your birthdays as a little girl, you captured the feelings so well.
    Take care πŸ™‚ xx

  8. ovenhaven Post author

    lcsa99: Thanks, sweetie πŸ™‚ The Mickey pizza is absolutely cute, isn’t it?

    sweetrosie: Thank you, dearie πŸ™‚ You take care too. I miss your updates!

  9. Bernice

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! Seems like you enjoyed your big day!!!

    I’m also learning to accept non-chocolate stuff but still, I settle on chocolate all the time. =X

  10. ovenhaven Post author

    Thanks, Bernice! Yup, I sure had a blast. πŸ™‚

    Ah, it’s almost an uphill task to battle our chocolate tendencies, doncha think? *hi-fives fellow chocoholic!*

  11. Maya

    Hi there! A very happy belated bday to you :)E toppers that your hubz made just too cute! Tht was E 1st thing that caught my eyes. E cool dude and E sweet “tudung gal” How sweet! You have an awesome blog btw. I ended up here via Bernice’s πŸ™‚ Keep up E good work!

  12. ovenhaven Post author

    Maya: Thanks for the kind words, Maya! I love the toppers too; that’s pretty much how we look like, minus the height discrepancy. Haha πŸ˜›

    White on Rice Couple: Thank you, sweetie(s)! I sure hope a quarter century will prove to be a good place to be! πŸ˜›

    The Cooking Ninja: Thanks, dearie! πŸ™‚

  13. happygrub

    You’re a gemini too! Like Tommy (notesbynaive) and I. Hey what camera did u get??

    You’ll enjoy it!

    And I swear by the carrot cake. I made the rum drenched vanilla cakes without the rum of course, and it was just so-so. Nothing to rave about. Other than that, I am eyeing a few recipes but none made yet. I think the lemon tart is supposedly heavenly.

  14. linda

    Happy belated birthday! Love the picture of the upside down cake.
    What a wonderful niece you have, drawing such a pretty drawing (well, ok maybe not so wonderful that she made you into a princess too πŸ˜‰

  15. ovenhaven Post author

    Thank you, dearie! Well, she’s the self-proclaimed resident princess of the family, so no one else can be a princess, I guess. Hehe πŸ˜›

  16. ovenhaven Post author

    happygrub: Ah sweets, my reply didn’t get posted it seems. I got a Nikon D40, and oooh, the lemon tart does sound heavenly! And you’re an old-timer with the carrot cake already, aren’t ya? I keep seeing it on your blog! Hehe πŸ˜›


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