ABC Cooking Singapore – Part 7

I’m back with my 7th post on ABC Cooking, about my lessons for the months of October and November 2018! I’ve officially been with ABC Cooking for more than 1 year now, starting in October 2017. I started off with only Cake lessons but the quality of the studio itself had me sold and I’m now doing all lessons – bread, wagashi and cooking on top of just cakes! As such, I’m doing like 4 – 6 classes a month now and I’ve so much to share.

Generally, here’s my feedback for the 4 types of regular classes at ABC Cooking Studio:

  • Fun – how fun the lesson is itself to “play”
  • Practicality – how useful the lesson is for doing it at home day to day
  • Value – how worth it is ingredients wise
  • Learning value – like if it is difficult to find and learn on YouTube

Cake Basic

Fun – 4.5/5
This is the main reason why I joined ABC Cooking for Cake Basic course – simply to have fun at the studio! However to make the cakes look beautiful it can be a bit stressful.
Practicality – 3/5 
Dessert is a treat and not a daily staple so the recipes won’t be used often
Value – 4/5
Cake classes usually uses butter, cream and sometimes liquor. These ingredients do not come cheap!
Learning Value – 3.5/5
Recipes can be found easily online and cake classes are everywhere in Singapore but I cake making is a delicate process and it is best to learn personally!

Bread Basic

Fun – 5/5
Bread making is a “rough process” whereby you don’t need to be careful and gentle (like cake) so it is not stressful at all
Practicality – 4/5
Bread can be eaten everyday as staple food. However, it is a long process of waiting multiple times for proofing so that’s -1 point for practicality
Value – 2.5/5
They provide good Japanese flour and sugar, but bread ingredients are typically very low cost.
Learning Value – 3/5
Bread making technique in different types of bread is actually similar across all types so there’s not much to learn

Cooking

Fun – 1/5
Unlike the 3 other types of classes, for cooking you cook as a group so it’s not an individual project. You cook in a communal pot and divide out the food in the end. It isn’t as fun as the other classes because the lesson is a lot more serious
Practicality – 4.5/5
You can remake it often if you select recipes which you’d eat often. However, I don’t like how most of the lessons includes multiple side items to learn as well. I’d rather focus on learning just 1 main course thoroughly as that’s what I would do if I cook
Value – 3.5/5
The portion of each meal is always quite big and it makes a very filling meal
Learning Value – 2.5/5
You probably can find similar recipes online and I find that cooking videos are easier to follow and replicate than baking ones

Wagashi

Fun – 4/5
I like that we work individually like Cake and Bread classes, but Wagashi making requires a whole new level of precision. It is somewhat an art and you need to be very serious and concentrate to get it right
Practicality – 1/5
I honestly will not make them at home or eat it often. It is only fun to make once!
Value – 4/5
The ingredients used are definitely from Japan and very specialized. It is not made from ingredients we have at home so it is worthwhile to do it in class.
Learning Value – 4/5
You probably can’t find Wagashi lessons in Singapore and online tutorials are vague as well

For real time updates, do follow my Instagram @hungrybird.sg where I’ll share a quick review of most of recipes I learnt. For an overview, do check out my page about my ABC Cooking Journey, where you can see photos of all the food I did at a glance!

Check out my previous posts about ABC Cooking Studio Singapore here:

ABC Cooking Studio Part 1
ABC Cooking Studio Part 2
ABC Cooking Studio Part 3
ABC Cooking Studio Part 4
ABC Cooking Studio Part 5
ABC Cooking Studio Part 6


Hungry Bird rating

– Must learn ! Recipe really good/ useful to recreate often.
 – Good, met expectations
 – Ok… optional to learn
 – Lower standard in taste than expected / looks better than it tastes/ not as good as store bought versions
– Waste of time

Regular Lessons

October Cake Basic – Cheesecake

Honestly, I had no intention to take this lesson when I first decided to sign up with ABC Cooking last year. I love cheesecake, but I already know how to make cheesecake, and have been baking cheesecakes for years. However as time passed, I realised I enjoy attending cake lessons at ABC Cooking for the process of the lesson itself more than for recipe. It also helps when I found out from some other members that this recipe also teaches how to make the biscuit base from scratch! It never really occurred to me as an option; I always thought cheesecake base is all about crushing biscuits. And it turns out that making the crumbed base is much easier than I thought and it tastes way better than anything I’ve ever had in a cheesecake! The cheese portion however, wasn’t as good as my New York cheesecake recipe. This uses less cream cheese in proportion and the outcome was a cheesecake that wasn’t as creamy as I’d like. The cheese taste was very mild as well. Still, it is a cheesecake better than most you buy commercially from mass production supplied bakeries (which tastes even less like cheese). They also taught us how to make an orange-raspberry sauce, which is basically like making a simple raspberry jam – I already knew how to. Basically this lesson isn’t the most value added cake lesson for me, but I did learn something new and useful!

Hungry Bird rating: 3/5

November Cake Basic – Earl Grey Chiffon Cake

This is my first time baking a chiffon cake! In all my years of self taught baking I only did stuff like cheesecake, tiramisu and macarons – basically only stuff which doesn’t really require a cake mixer to create (yes I started making macarons by hand whipping the meringue – it is possible!). It was only much later that I got a (lousy) cake mixer, but cakes which requires whipping egg yolks and whites separately is still too difficult for me – I find it really hard to determine how beaten is enough. Slight over or under beating will result in very different results for cakes and I just can’t seem to get even a simple genoise sponge cake right. Chiffon cakes always seemed beyond my reach as there’s so many factors which can fail the final product and I never wanted to try it on my own. I’m glad to have a successful first time learning this at ABC Cooking Studio, and in my favourite Earl Grey Tea flavour! We also did a side recipe of caramel sauce which I’ve been using for all sorts of purposes, like to coat mini pretzels or as a topping for souffle pancakes.

Hungry Bird rating: 3/5

October Bread Basic – Maple Butter Swiss Zopf

This bread is kneaded with maple syrup in place of sugar, and later topped with more maple syrup mixed with butter and chopped almonds and hazelnuts. The end product? The best bread ever! The texture was so soft and fluffy and that maple flavour was heavenly. Parts of the maple syrup oozed down to the baking sheet and caramelised while it baked, and that to me was the highlight. I did not waste a single bit – I picked everything off the baking sheet and ate it on the spot! I look forward to making this again.

Hungry Bird rating: 5/5

October Bread Basic – Curry Onion Cheese

This is my first savoury bread lesson, after doing 4 sweet classes and I must say I really love this! I love curry and anything to do with curry is going to taste good. There’s curry powder (S&B brand) kneaded in the bread dough and in the toppings. If I were to do it again, I would add more cheese, more curry and more onions. Basically more is more for this bread!

Hungry Bird rating: 5/5

November Bread Basic – Olive Bread with Rock Salt 

I did another savoury bread for November and for this particular one I’ve been hearing rave reviews from many people! This is also the very first bread I made which does not require egg and the texture is indeed different – it gets crusty on the outside when toasted as compared to other breads which are soft. The texture is most similar to my favourite Shio Pan (salt butter bread) because they bake it with a slab of butter letting it melt, and top the bread with fleur de sel from Hakata Salt.

Hungry Bird rating: 5/5

October Wagashi – Kinton-igaguri & Satsumaimo

I choose my wagashi lessons according to season and since Autumn has just begun, it’s perfect time for some Autumn theme wagashi! Sweet potato (satsumaimo 薩摩芋) and chestnuts (igaguri 毬栗) are often in abundance in Autumn and I’ve actually had chestnut and sweet potato themed wagashi during one of my Autumn Kyoto trips. These wagashi modeled after the actual chestnut and sweet potato is just too cute to resist. I’m so glad that I found this momiji (red maple) themed matcha bowl during my recent trip to Kyoto and it was a perfect match for my Autumn theme tea session. Shaping the wagashi takes a whole load of patience and a zen state of mind and clearly I lack such virtue hence my slipshod looking chestnut!

Hungry Bird rating: 4/5

November Wagashi – Kuri Manju

Autumn is the season for chestnuts and this wagashi reflects elements of 🍁🍃🍂! After doing 4 nerikiri type lessons (2 in Japan and 2 in Singapore) I’m finally learning a different kind of wagashi! Manju is a baked wagashi that’s somewhere between a cake, bread and biscuit – the texture is something of it’s own kind and it’s really nice! The secret ingredient is condensed milk. Cannot visualize how it works? Me neither. But the result is something really delicious!

Hungry Bird rating: 5/5

November Cooking – Classic Japanese Curry

I love Japanese curry rice and it is probably one of my favourite Japanese meals. It is also highly popular in Japan and some source even regards it as one of the top 2 national dishes (along with ramen)! I didn’t always love Japanese curry – I was first introduced to S&B Golden Curry which wasn’t very nice in my opinion – it was straight up just curry spices and quite starchy. Later on I tried House Vermont Curry (Hot) and that changed everything! I like my curry to be dark, spicy yet slightly sweet with layers of different flavours (Vermont curry includes sweetness from apple and honey) and a more fluid consistency and Vermont Curry (Hot) is perfect for me. I usually have rice to accompany the curry instead of the other way around and I can even eat it on it’s own. My favourite curry rice chain is CoCo Ichibanya and I’m so thankful we have it in Singapore. It is just so good and it’s exactly the kind of curry I love with the right balance of flavours and perfect liquid texture. So far no other curry restaurant (or restaurant serving curry) actually satisfies me!

So with my highly selective benchmark for curry rice, I was of course very interested to learn how to make Japanese Curry from scratch so this lesson at ABC Cooking was a MUST LEARN for me. Japanese curry nowadays can includes all sorts of ingredients, but for this lesson we learn the most classic variation – with boneless chicken thigh chunks cooked inside. Well for this recipe, the instructor reduced the temperature for roasting the flour (yes you need to brown cake flour to get brown curry roux) due to feedback, but I’m suspecting this is why my curry wasn’t as brown as I’d like it to be. They also did not add in a lot of sweeteners hence it was less sweet than I’d like, and closer to S&B Golden Curry. I requested to add in more water to water down the thick curry but perhaps roasting the flour more brown would have done the trick – the more roasted the flour is, the less thickening effect it would serve. Still, I understand this is just the most basic recipe and I could see ways to improve on cooking this curry to my liking when I make it on my own next time!

Another interesting recipe in this lesson was ebi-fry. I am always reluctant to deep fry at home and have never done it before in fact, but I was surprised how easy it actually is. My ebi-fry turned out exceeding my expectations, being perfectly crispy and with totally no overly oily texture to it! Ebi-fry I’ve had outside usually are way too thick in the batter and soaks up too much oil – more than often rancid tasting oil. Now I understand that freshness is everything. I am also glad that my shrimp turned out rather straight!

We also did no-bake cheesecake and salad with French dressing but these feels like filler dishes to me and it wasn’t really like value added knowledge. These are not the main learning points anyway.

I have to add that I really enjoyed this cooking lesson because I managed to book a solo class! Getting to do everything entirely hands-on instead of delegating tasks to different participants is so much more fun. I’ll try to book my cooking lessons like this in future if possible!

Hungry Bird rating: 4/5


Trial Lessons

October – Orange Yogu Blanc

This cake is really pretty but from the looks of it I knew it wouldn’t taste really good. It’s like a 2 layered mousse cake, but the issue I have with this is that the ingredients used for the mousse wasn’t fantastic. It was just plain yogurt (from a generic supermarket brand) and Millac Gold whipping cream with gelatin and that’s no where near commercial standard of good mousse cake. The sponge itself was good though. Overall I find that this lesson was interesting to learn the decoration technique, but taste wise had big room for improvement! However, we learnt how to make orange confit from real oranges using a microwave oven and that was something new!

Hungry Bird rating: 2/5

October – Pumpkin Tiramisu

This cake was offered only at Westgate for the month of October in line with the theme of Halloween Day. I had my reservations about this cake because pumpkin honestly does not sound appetizing. But to my pleasant surprise, it actually tastes good as a combination! They use a chocolate sponge cake (similar to the sponge cake of the Orange Yogu Blanc) and it will be brushed with coffee and sugar syrup. The pumpkin mascaporne cream itself was bland and quite tasteless but the sweetness from the coffee brushed chocolate sponge cake matched well with cream and it all balances out, and crunch from walnuts gave it a nice texture. And not to mention, this cake looks so cute! We drew the decorations using melted compound chocolate, tracing over a template for spider webs. With the excess chocolate, I drew some Halloween cats! I love how my cats turned out. I’m really glad I got to attend this trial lesson, on the very last day (which happens to be the actual Halloween Day itself!) with a very last minute booking the evening before, thanks to a last minute cancellation for the trial lesson slot!

Hungry Bird rating: 4/5

Classic Cake Trial – Gateau au Chocolat

So it took me like 13 months after joining ABC Cooking to finally try their signature classic cake trial class. This is a very rich chocolate cake which looks boring on the outside but tastes heavenly inside. I’ve heard from many people that it tastes really good, but I could only understand the extent of how delicious it is when I finally tasted it myself! This cake can be eaten warm or cold. I can’t decide which version I like better – both ways have their own merits! I love the crispy crust exterior when it is warm (can be reheated in the oven toaster for 10 minutes before serving), but I also like how fudge-like it becomes when chilled at fridge temperature. I will definitely want to remake this again often!

Hungry Bird rating: 5/5


Home Practice

Takoyaki

This Bruno Compact Hot Plate cost me $219 (pink colour cost $20 more) but I have no regrets getting it – I can now make Takoyaki at home! I knew octopus wouldn’t be cheap in Singapore but I never expected how expensive it actually is – $98/kg. One tray of takoyaki requires around 160g of octopus so this takoyaki meal doesn’t come cheap! Price aside, it turned out as good as expected and I’m satisfied. In fact, I cooked this again just a week later and I sort of had enough takoyaki for the time being.

Gateau au Chocolat

This chocolate cake is really the best I’ve ever tasted despite being so simple to recreate. I made this at home, twice! The second time I omitted flour and replaced it with katakuriko (potato starch) – it turned out fine, difference negligible. In the cooking studio they use paper molds which made it convenient for participants to bring the cake home, but of course we will use reusable molds at home. I bought a silicone cake pan (15cm like the recipe calls for) from Daiso and that worked perfectly well! I also tried using a metal cake pan but that turned out bad. The cake was overheated and it also stuck to the sides, making it very difficult to unmold.  Silicone cake pan is the way to go.


Overseas Lesson

I traveled to Taipei recently and naturally one of my objectives was to use my ABC Passport for a lesson! The menu offered in Taipei is quite different from Singapore’s and there were a few classes I was interested in. I decided to buy a Overseas Single Lesson Ticket as well. All you need to do is to call the specific studio, book your class, and pay when you arrive.

The criteria to attend the lessons is the same as Passport – you have to be fluent in their local language that the class will be conducted in and the lesson has to be the same kind of course as the course you purchased in Singapore. I am now a ABC Cake and Bread member, so I am entitled to attend either Cake or Bread classes in any ABC Cooking studio worldwide.

The price of the single lesson varies between countries and course. Typically bread classes cost less than cake class, so it is logical to redeem a cake class using my Passport and pay for a single lesson ticket of bread class!

Overseas Single Lesson Price

I have summarised in this table the cost of overseas single lessons in all countries and also did a rough conversion to SGD at the current conversion rate (rounded to the nearest whole number). Generally, the lesson prices in China, Thailand and Malaysia are lower! Also, ABC in Singapore has the highest rates, unsurprisingly.

Cooking ~SGD Bread ~SGD Cake ~SGD
China 240RMB $48 220RMB $44 240RMB $48
Japan  ¥5700 $70 ¥5400 $66 ¥7200 $88
Taiwan NT 1500 $67 NT 1400 $63 NT 1650 $74
Hong Kong HK$500 $88 HK$360 $64 HK$420 $74
Korea ₩51700 $63 ₩44000 $54 ₩62000 $76
Thailand ฿1650 $69 ฿1225 $51 ฿1400 $59
Malaysia RM201.40 $67 RM169.40 $56 RM201.40 $67
Singapore SG$90.95 $91 SG$69.55 $70 SG$80.25 $80

Taiwan October Bread Basic – Mont Blanc Bread

I decided on this bread because I love Mont Blanc cake. When preparing the Mont Blanc topping, we mixed it with white bean paste it looks super sweet and I had doubts that it would taste good. I wanted to take pictures the following morning so to retain freshness I kept the chestnut filling in the piping bag as well as toppings in cling wrap to refrigerate and assemble the next morning. To my pleasant surprise, it wasn’t too sweet, and was in fact just nice. The bread itself is not sweet, so a generous topping of chestnut paste balanced out the flavour.

Hungry Bird rating: 3.5/5

Taiwan Cake Basic – Carre Alsacein & Sale Stick

Unlike ABC Cooking in Singapore, where the studio is packed all day err day, ABC Cooking in Taipei is a lot less busy. They only offer a few lessons a day, and not every recipe is offered everyday. I had to call in on 3 different days to finally book a lesson I wanted. That said, I’m thankful that at least one of the days I was in Taipei had the lesson I wanted, at ABC Cooking SOGO Dunhua studio (the other ABC Cooking Studios in Taipei are far from city center)!

For the month of October, they offered 8 types of cakes – yup that’s 2 more than in Singapore, they have 24 cakes for their Cake Basic course.  4 of the cakes are identical/ similar to the current Cake Basic options in Singapore, and 2 of them will be offered next year in Singapore when the Cake Basic course renews. My initial first choice was Paris Brest, but since that will be offered in Singapore next year so it makes no sense to learn it in Taipei; moreover such pastries have to be finished within a day and it is impossible since I’m travelling. I only have 3 unique choices to choose from – Molten Lava Cake, Orange Pound Cake or Caramel Florentine & Cheese Biscuits. I learnt a molten lava cake from a trial lesson last year so I did not consider this one at all (also not practical to keep as I do not have an oven to reheat in my hotel). The Florentine Biscuit recipe uses a Pate Brisee tart base which is the same as Petit Four Secs ~3 types of pie~ and Lemon Tart lesson in Singapore, so I thought that wasn’t the most ideal choice either, but compared to the Orange Pound Cake, I figured that it would be easier to pack the biscuits home in my luggage. I usually like cream cakes and a lesson like this will not be my top choice but it was really the most practical one. I’ve also never made Florentine biscuits before so I thought I should try something new.

Indeed, the tart pastry making was the same as what I learnt before, but the Florentine portion of it made it entirely different! It is amazing how different toppings can transform the same tart base into something totally new. It is also amazing how versatile this sugar-less tart pastry is. As it turns out, the Florentine Biscuits were super delicious and is probably one of my favourite ABC Cooking recipes so far! The leftover dough was made into Cheese biscuits and it was delicious too, similar to the cheese biscuits from Petit Four Secs ~3 types of pie~ lesson in Singapore.

Moral of the story – don’t judge a recipe too soon! In fact, many of my favourite recipes learnt at ABC Cooking were not the ones I was most attracted too judging from the pictures/ name.

Hungry Bird rating: 5/5

I would like to add that I love the cake boxes used in ABC Cooking Taiwan! It is my favourite shade of baby pink. Cake boxes are provided for only cake classes, but also available for purchase should you want to. A small box cost NT40 while a bigger one cost NT60. I bought 2 boxes because I love it so much!

IMG_PITU_20181027_004609-01-01 (900x675)

The aprons worn by instructors and members here are also colourful – orange for instructors and green, blue, purple or pink by members (available for purchase). I already bought my own dream apron (Afternoon Tea x ABC Cooking collaboration) when I was in Japan last month, or else I would be really keen on purchasing one! In Taiwan, members are required to bring their own apron and wash up by themselves, similar to ABC Cooking Japan.


December Seasonal Trial Lessons

You’re in luck! For December ABC Cooking Singapore is offering 2 kinds of winter themed cakes which will be perfect for your festive gathering!

Takashimaya – Snow White’s Dome
Westgate – Angel Berries in Wonderland

If you’re interested to take a trial class and want to do so at the discounted rate of $28, do drop me an email at melissa@hungrybird.sg


Again I will emphasize, this is not a sponsored review or anything. I paid for my lessons and just wish to share all I know about it so far!

ABC Cooking Studio
Takashimaya S.C., #03-12/12A 
391A Orchard Rd 
Singapore 238873

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