I would like to dedicate this blog to my beloved late mother-in-law, Mdm Ling Sin Sing, who passed away in 2012, leaving her legacy with our next generation that appreciates her rainbow cake so much. In our family, when we see this rainbow cake, we see her and feel her presence amongst us.
Do you ever have that feeling of really missing someone? Or of missing that particular food that your loved one made? In Jin’s family, the rainbow cake is the one that everyone missed dearly.
In 1980…My late mother-in-law had this reputation of the “Rainbow Cake Queen” in Sibu town, Sarawak (Malaysia). She used to bake thirties to forties of rainbow cake every Chinese New Year to be sold or given away as a gift to relatives and friends( cant imagine how many hours she spent in kitchen baking these rainbow cakes! I saluted her patience and determination in wanting to perfect each of her cakes that she baked). Every family that knew her would be expecting this special gift from her, yearly. Naturally, when our children were very young, she would bake this rainbow cake for our kids every time she visited us in Singapore. When my kids were young, they would say; “Ah Mah (grandma), I want to eat rainbow cake!”, and she would then spend the whole day in the kitchen, just to make this cake for her grandchildren. This was her way of showing her love, and this cake became an important signature food on our family table, whenever she came around. Ever since my mother-in-law departed us in 2012, we’ve lost this connection. So I am so glad that one of my daughters, Miss Anna, has picked up the skill of baking her grandmother’s rainbow cake in these recent years, through occasional coaching sessions from her aunt (my sister-in-law, Lee Lee). The rainbow cake was finally revived in Chinese New Year 2020! It brought so much joy to our relatives and friends when they sighted (and tasted) the rainbow cake during the festive season.
Learning happens when the child chooses to learn, we INSPIRE the child to learn, NOT REQUIRE them to learn. My daughter missed her grandma, missed her rainbow cake, and so she wanted to learn how to bake it. My sister in law, Lee Lee kindly provided Anna an opportunity, teaching her once in our 2015 Sydney home. Anna has continuously practiced and honed her skills in baking the rainbow cake over these past few years, spending much time in the kitchen and making the rainbow cake patiently, steaming it layer by layer until her desired end result was achieved. One rainbow cake can take up to 3-4 hours to patiently steam it and perfect it. This learning comes from within, and so I supported her, providing the kitchen tools and right environment so that she could achieve her goal.
During this Chinese New Year 2020, Miss Anna and her cousin Miss Phoebe (who knew nothing about baking!) decided to join hands to bake many of the rainbow cakes to celebrate Chinese New year together with relatives and family. Miss Anna was the chief chef and Miss Phoebe was her best working partner in the kitchen to make this mission possible. I was very impressed to see the teamwork chemistry which happened between both of them. They worked long hours tirelessly in the kitchen, with touches of laughter and fun times together. I saw the family ties in them, their love, and their determination to pass down their grandma’s legacy to the next generation. They wanted to REVIVE the rainbow cake memoir in Jin’s family. How beautiful this calling is! When we had our big family gathering during Chinese New Year, girls carefully displayed and served rainbow cake to all our relatives to taste. Our relatives were all so shocked and could not believe that the rainbow cake was of so much resemblance to that of my late mother-in-law’s. The taste, fragrance, moisture, smell and texture – these all brought back a flood of happy memories which they had with her. It was a very touching moment to witness how food can play such an important part in our life.
We, my husband and I are super proud( proud is an understatement here!) of how Miss Anna achieved this task, and am very thankful to God that He gave Miss Anna a humble and willing heart to learn and be able to CONNECT our big family through this RAINBOW CAKE! It was such a joyous sense of fulfilment to be able to CELEBRATE LIFE of my late mother-in-law, with her rainbow cake legacy being officially passed down to the third generation in our family.
Cooking from scratch in the kitchen can create life-long memories for our next generation, and it is happening in our family – how joyful! I know that many years down the road, when Miss Anna and Miss Phoebe flip through the memory albums of their lives, this rainbow cake chapter will stay with them forever, and I pray that it will be passed down to the fourth and fifth-generation and many more generations in our family.
P.S. After the intensive cake training in Sibu, Miss Phoebe confidently said: “I can bake my Ah Mah’s rainbow cake independently now”. Her baking career may take off from here for Miss Phoebe, only God knows where her future lies!