Following up from my previous about about ABC Cooking Studio Singapore; I’ve been a member since September 2017 and my only regret is not joining earlier. I absolutely love baking (and eating) so every lesson has been nothing but fun! I’ll be updating every 3 months to update on what I’ve been learning and doing at the cooking studio. These posts are 100% my own personal experience and non-sponsored.
On hindsight, it was a good thing that I only joined in September because that was when they started this thing called the ABC Passport.
Basically, they will issue the ABC International passport to new sign ups/ top ups from September onward, and this passport entitles you to attend lessons overseas from 1 October 2017 onward! They have studios in Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong Thailand, Malaysia, Korea and China. You get to attend one basic regular lesson (only from the regular menu, not including 1 day lessons) at each country. This is basically giving you SEVEN lessons for free! The lesson type will be the same type as the course you signed up for in Singapore, but for Thailand they allow everyone the option to take Thai cooking lessons instead of your basic course type if you prefer.
The only catch: lessons are strictly conducted in their local language. For Hong Kong, Malaysia and Thailand, they will use English in their classes so I think it should be manageable. For Taiwan and China, it will be fine if you understand Chinese.
But Korea and Japan will be a problem if you do not know their language at all. They generally advise that they will only accept your reservation if you know their language (and you have to call up the studios directly to book the class, so you need to speak in the local language), and if you insist going despite not understanding anything, they probably will not cater to your needs and just carry on with their own language anyway.
I recently visited Japan, and went for a lesson at ABC. I called in myself, and realised that they do not speak English, save for 1 or 2 staff who are fluent in English, but was not available when I called in to book. I used my very basic level Japanese to make my reservation and I managed to do so successfully, confirming my date, menu and lesson time over the phone.
On the day itself at the studio, the staff only spoke Japanese. With my level of proficiency, I processed things slower but I managed fine eventually as they were nice and patient enough. The recipe sheet was also entirely in Japanese.
Overall, I enjoyed my class because it was a very different experience.
In Japan, they have so many studios country wide and the Passport allows you to attend the regular class at any of these studios, no matter which prefecture you visit. The regular course menu is uniform country wide as well. My recent trip was to Tokyo and I selected the studio at Roppongi Midtown Tokyo.
For the month of November, they offered 6 menus, and out of these, only 2 were different from menus available in ABC Singapore. Of course I had to do one of these 2! I wanted to do cake #16 – the fruit tart, but of the 3 days I had in Tokyo, they didn’t offer it at this studio. They had cake #15 – Cake au Chocolat only on 6th Nov 4pm. I was to arrive in Tokyo 8:55am on 6th Nov so that works despite being not the most ideal scenario. If I insisted on doing cake #16, I could have called up another studio to find out about the availability, but that would be a really tedious process of hit and miss, so I decided to be contented with having this class!
It would have been more convenient if they could allow us to log in to their reservation system and find our own classes like how we usually do in our home country. This is the system employed for ABC Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand, and China should you want to use the Passport in these countries. For Japan, Korea and Taiwan, you need to book your classes the old fashioned way.
The cake I made was delicious. I credit it to Japanese ingredients! This cake exceeded my expectations and I have no regrets learning this instead of the fruit tart I originally wanted. It looked like a simple, dry looking pound cake, but it turned out to be absolutely not. The method involved separate egg yolk and egg white batters and folding in to retain the airiness. The result was a really rich yet light chocolate cake. The dried fruit toppings were delicious as well. I wish I knew where they got it from.
Seasonal Trial Lessons
In my previous post, I explained about how trial lessons work. Please read it if you haven’t already! For November and December, they’ve introduced pretty interesting trial lessons. I love it when they have cake lessons because I am a cake lover.
I brought my friend in for the Chocolate Lava Cake class at a special rate of $28 and I got to attend the lesson with them as well, complimentary! This is a great perk for members.
The main difference between trial lessons and regular lessons is the difficulty of the recipe – trial lessons are usually simple and requires fewer steps so even total beginners can manage. This chocolate lava cake is probably the easiest cake to make, but it can make you seem like a professional chef in front of your friends because it looks complicated!
I tried making it at home and it was possible to bake using a small oven toaster. This is definitely a recipe to keep!
Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to attend a trial class with me. It’ll be $28 instead of the walk in rate of $48!
October – Tartlette au citron
The second regular cake lesson I took with ABC was Tartelette au Citron. It is a lemon tart with Pâte Brisée (shortcrust pastry) base, different from the pâte sucrée (sweet tart pastry) base used for apple tart during my lesson in September. The tart itself was not sweet and the overall flavour of the completed tart was tangy with moderate sweetness. I really liked it, even though it was still a far cry from Jacques Genin’s in Paris. The tart shell needed to be blind baked without fillings. We made the lemon curd from scratch, technique is similar to the lemon curd I’ve made before. The curd is then filled into the tart shells (lined with white chocolate) and chilled to set. Some pieces are topped with clear glaze while others are topped with fresh whipped cream. Both versions were good!
I made it at home the following week and it was more or less similar!
November – Roulé au thé vert
For November I did a matcha roll cake and I’d say this was really good! I love matcha and I love roll cakes. There’s nothing not to love about this cake. The instructor I had for the day wasn’t the most gentle of all people at ABC, but she was knowledgeable with her stuff and that was a good thing. This cake had a high failure rate and her expertise helped us achieved decent results and I appreciated that!
The sponge for this roll was a soufflé based cake, where we need to actually cook the flour, milk and butter over the stove into like a roux, and then combine it with egg yolks and more milk before folding it in with meringue. It was not as straight forward as the Strawberry Chiffon Roll cake from September’s trial lesson. The result was a really fluffy and light sponge and I really liked it! It’s what the Japanese call fuwa-fuwa roll cake I suppose?
The high failure rate comes when the cake batter loses too much air, probably from over mixing or over spreading in the cake pan. I’ve seen pictures of others with collapsed cakes which looks dense. I’m glad mine turned out fine because the teacher kept nagging on the importance of acting fast.
The filling was fresh whipped cream with azuki beans. Matcha ganache (from white chocolate, matcha and cream) was piped into the filling for more matcha flavour in the cake (but for mine I might have messed it up a little when assembling the filling).
I have to say, this was probably the best matcha roll cake I’ve had in Singapore (well, there aren’t many around) except that the matcha provided by the school wasn’t that good and tasted like baking shop grade of baking matcha rather than good quality, fit for drinking matcha.
I did try to recreate this at home and I have to admit that I failed terribly in both the cake and the cream. I could point out a few mistakes which I made – like adding too much milk than I should have (this recipe requires the experience to know to stop adding in milk when the desired texture has reached, instead of adding entirely everything the recipe asked for) and possibly my folding technique is not quite there. Perhaps the brand of whipping cream I used wasn’t the best as well. I’ve used Emborg whipping cream before too, and both times I was unable to whip the cream to a firm cream texture – it was always too soft and when whipped longer, it turned into butter. I will use a different brand next time.
It’s quite a shame that this turned out badly because I did use fairly good quality matcha from Japan. For now, I guess I can only get my matcha roll fix at Dulcet & Studio.
Members only food tasting events
Another perk of being an ABC Cooking Studio member is that you will get invited to food tasting events whenever they have something in season. It could be fruits like grapes, apples or strawberries etc, or certain ingredients from individual prefectures promoting their products all from Japan. You should know that Japanese fruits are crazy expensive in Singapore, but also crazy delicious so this is a good opportunity to see what the fuss is about.
These tasting events, which are opened to members only (I think even if your courses have finished you’re still a lifetime member) are always free of charge, but with limited vacancy so you got to be fast at booking!
There was a Aomori Apple and Kumamoto Persimmon session in October but unfortunately, I was down with a bad fever on the day itself and could not attend despite being booked in for it. Oh well…
For December, I managed to attend the Strawberry tasting event! Japanese strawberries are my favourite. いちごが大好き！ These fruit tasting events are orginased by J’s Agri, subsidiary of JTB promoting fruits in Japan.
2 types of strawberries were introduced – Amaou and Saga Honoka.
Amaou are big, sweet and have red flesh. I’ve heard/ seen this breed before so I think it’s quite a common one in Japan (though not as common as the Tochiotome from Tochigi I guess).
Saga Honoka is unique because the flesh is white! It is also sweet with a tinge of sourness, juicy and are generally smaller.
There was a lucky draw at the end of the session to give away 4 trays of Amaou but unfortunately I didn’t win this time. Every participant walked away with 1 Aomori apple though!