Cakes.

Since my last post in September of 2015, I took a long hiatus from blogging. Ironically, that last post was also my most widely read post. I realised only today that the last post averaged almost 600 views – a huge leap from most of my other posts which would average around 50 views or so. Since that last post, I stopped blogging for a year and a half because I felt discouraged by the state of political events in Singapore, and burnt out from being overly invested in what I thought could be a real and lasting change in Singapore’s political landscape. I felt defeated, not just by the tide of recent events, but also in my personal life as I grieved over the unexpected loss of my father, and started questioning the path that I had taken in my life. But that’s another story…for another day.

Today’s post is going to be on cakes. While I have never mentioned this before, I am and always have been a huge fan of baking. I’ve baked since I was eight years old, prior to even knowing what a ‘cup’ of flour meant. This was in the 1980s in Singapore, where the only measurement standard I was exposed to was the metric standard. It was also before the advent of the internet which would forever put to rest any confusion I had about measurement standards in baking. I remember many failed attempts at chocolate chip cookies, some being too chewy, and some being too floury or salty. They never did look like the picture in the recipe-book I followed. Of course, it was because I never did have a standard set of measuring cups and spoons and would use my mom’s tea-cups and cutlery instead to measure out everything, from flour to sugar and butter. Thankfully, today I have a few sets of trusty measuring cups and spoons.

Since my amateur attempts at baking in the 80s, I have baked hundreds of times for different occasions. These ranged from fundraisers to Birthday parties, to social gatherings and tea-parties, to “just because I’m craving a chocolate chip cookie.” More recently, I have even baked Pineapple Tarts because I felt homesick, and wanted to celebrate Chinese New Year by baking Pineapple Tarts with a fellow Singaporean friend, Dora, who lives in L.A. Dora suggested baking the tarts and I gamely went along with the idea. Surprise, surprise! I never would have imagined myself baking Pineapple Tarts or any kind of local confection that can be easily bought in Singapore, but that’s what happens when you live overseas long enough and don’t have access to the usual goodies. This little baking experiment with Dora will be featured in next weeks post along with a video.

Today’s post is going to be on the German Chocolate Cake. Let it be said that I am not a fan of ugly cakes. This cake is, in my humble opinion, a pretty ugly cake.

 

I have never had any desire to make it and for the life of me, never even knew much about it, except that it looked dull & brown, (strike one)  and had coconut in it (strike two). However, my friend was getting married and I offered to make her a cake for her wedding. She told me she’d love to have a German Chocolate Cake, so I did a little research on the cake and found a good recipe to follow. When I made it and tried the final product, I was surprised by a few things about the cake:

  1. The texture is amazingly soft and fluffy, yet the taste is still rich, decadent and complex.
  2. There is nothing German about the cake. It is a totally American created confection, so named after Samuel German, the English-American creator of the particular type of dark chocolate that was used to bake the cake. German created the chocolate for the American Baker’s Chocolate Company in 1852, and 105 years later in 1957, a Texan home-maker, Mrs George Clay used this particular chocolate to come up with a recipe for a chocolate cake. Since then the recipe became an american favourite, and sales of the dark chocolate created by Samuel German increased by 73%. Soon after the cake’s name has changed from “German’s Chocolate Cake” to what we now know today as the German Chocolate Cake.
  3. It is possible to make a German Chocolate Cake look decent, if you have the time and patience for it. Unfortunately, I didn’t really! But the next time I make this cake, I will plan to ice and ‘pretty’ it up.

I used this recipe from allrecipes.com after reading quite a few comments and reviews on the different recipes of German Chocolate Cake available. The only thing different I did was to double the ingredients for the filling by 1.5 times and to also toast the pecans and coconut as some of the other reviewers suggested. It turned out great, and my friend and her fiancee loved it, and I I learned how to bake a whole new type of cake in the process!

 

 

Do you want to see Amos Yee convicted?

Those who want to see Amos Yee being sentenced for the ‘crime’ of plainly stating his personal opinion should ask themselves what is the kind of society they’d like to live in. Many Singaporean citizens who reacted to his video expressed much more malice and hate on social media than Amos ever did. He was violently threatened by a PAP grassroots member and physically and publicly hurt by a vengeful citizen, yet none of these individuals are being dealt with nearly as harshly as Amos. Is this just?

Thousands of Singaporean Christians, including myself have signed the petition to free Amos Yee and have stated that they are not offended, so how has he wounded Christian feelings? None of the citizens who reported him to the police for being offensive are willing to take the stand in court and testify against him. Why?

I don’t agree with what Amos says about Jesus Christ, in fact I believe that Jesus Christ is rather the opposite of LKY. Unlike LKY, Jesus Christ sought out and deliberately spent time with the ‘sinners’ and outcasts, the rejects of society. He also said the first will be last and the last will be the first. From what I gather, LKY basically said that the first will be paid obscene amounts of money, and the last shall not even be worthy of getting a minimum wage. (I am paraphrasing this of course, it’s part of his legacy that Singapore is now the most expensive city in the world and yet still does not have a minimum wage, while the Prime Minister and his ministerial entourage are drawing salaries amounting to millions of tax dollars )

But Amos is entitled to having his opinion and stating it plainly, just as I am entitled to navigating away from the video he posted if I am offended by it. I may not like the manner in which Amos stated his opinion, but I must say I admire his courage, integrity and his willingness to stand on his convictions. He was as vulgar and jarring as he was precisely because he wanted the video to go viral. He wanted us to think about about the issues he was raising.

Like the little boy who called out the emperor’s nakedness, Amos has been the only one who has dared to state what he sees plainly and publicly, without mincing his words. That is what freedom of expression is. You may not like or agree with what other people say, but that doesn’t mean that they should be fettered and thrown into jail like Amos has been. In many other democracies, most people wouldn’t be too bothered by the likes of Amos’s video, and those offended would either 1) ignore it and move on 2) engage and state their own opinions. They wouldn’t be calling out for his blood and running to the authorities to arrest him for speaking his mind. In Singapore it seems, one can be arrested for bluntly expressing one’s opinion, especially if one’s opinion runs counter to prevailing sentiment.

If we are to live in a just and free society where there is openness and accountability, we must consider why numerous other people who have made public threats against Amos and his family aren’t being similarly curtailed for their hurtful and violent statements and actions.

At the tender age of 16 years old, Amos is making us think. That’s much more than can be said of our leadership which has shackled mainstream media and silenced public dissent for years. Unlike Amos, our leadership thrives on our ignorance, apathy, and fear.

In my opinion, as much as we dislike being called idiots, we should be thanking Amos for having the guts shout the painful truth from the rooftops and not, like the intelligensia, dress it up with sophisticated froufrou, which is usually lost on most of us anyways.

Why are we Singaporeans so angry, vindictive and petty? Because we are a very unhappy lot. And why are we so unhappy? Because we subscribe to the values advocated by our leaders, and so many others in the world, that our worth depends on our income, achievements and good behavior. We try so hard to toe the lines, obeying these rules to earn a false sense of self-worth, when in fact our value is intrinsic. It is hardly surprising then, that we get outraged when a seemingly obnoxious little teenager thumbs his nose at these self-imposed rules and pronounces us stupid for subscribing to them. We angry Singaporeans have been looking for the first person to crucify, and Amos has kindly offered himself up as the sacrificial lamb.

Thankfully, Amos’s lawyers have made a water-tight case for Amos’s innocence, based on clear and simple logic. They have also backed it up with sound evidence, whereas the AGC’s retort is even worse than what you’d expect out of a primary school debate. The AGC has no witnesses or convincing evidence to prove Amos has broken the law. Anyone who has respect for truth and justice will know that if Amos gets convicted, it signals a social-malaise so deep that it corrupts our our political and judicial system, and indeed our very own minds and hearts if we allow it to.