Here’s my latest recap of my lessons at ABC Cooking Studio Singapore! This time I am proud to say that I’ve completed 18 Cake Basic courses. I took one class a month and it’s been exactly 18 months since. It was very timely that they are going to start a new Cake Basic menu from March 2019 onward so I now have new cake lessons to attend from March!
Also, from July 2019 onward, they will be launching a new Bread Basic menu, with 24 new bread recipes to learn from!
This also means I need to hurry get my lessons done from the old Bread Basic course. My next post about ABC Cooking Part 9 will feature a lot of bread lessons. Look out for that next time!
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
December Cake Basic – Mousse aux Fraises
Very honestly, when I first looked at ABC Cooking’s Cake Basic course, this was a class I never intended to learn. It looked very simple and boring, I thought I would never take up this lesson as it looks like it was not worth my money. However, I eventually decided to take up all 18 cake lessons from this round of cake basic and this was one of them. The lesson was supposed to be very simple and fast, but I unfortunately got a very inexperienced (and unprofessional with her attitude and knowledge) instructor for this lesson which made it my first bad class experience at ABC Cooking. Nevertheless, the recipe is still a good one and at least it tastes better than the other mousse cake.
Hungry Bird rating: 3/5
February Cake Basic – Macarons
This cute little confectionery is probably what got me started baking. I have a long story to tell.
Approximately 10 years ago when macarons started becoming popular in Singapore, I too was in love with the colourful and beautiful confectionery. I wasn’t satisfied by just buying them from the shops – I wanted to make them myself too! My kitchen experience back then was probably just limited to premixed cookies. I did not have an electric whisk and I naively thought it would work. Needless to say, it failed in all possible ways. I did not know how to judge whether my progress met the description from the recipe and this I’d say is the very reason why you should just learn it from a teacher. It was heartbreaking to throw away all the expensive ingredients, especially after hours of futile effort! If only ABC Cooking Studio Singapore existed back then…
Next, I scouted around for macaron making classes. My first one got me travelling 2 hours to a community center in a residential area in the other end of the island (nope, never going there again) and another 2 hours back home. I eventually went for at least 4 more lessons, by various teachers (but in more central locations thankfully) and invested in Pierre Herme and Laduree’s recipe book because I wanted to compare all sorts of techniques for both the shell and the filling.
After deciding on my favourite macaron shell recipe and grasping the technique of knowing how to judge the process, I’d say macaron shells are actually not difficult to make at all! It’s basically the same thing only with different colours and I always get successful smooth shells with feet all of the time (the secret is to just let the unbaked shells be exposed to direct air-con for a period of time). And I’m proud to say that I actually successfully whipped meringue to stiff peaks BY HAND using a hand whisk! (But really, don’t bother trying this at home. Just go buy an electric mixer!) What I found difficult however, was to make the filling. It isn’t just as simple as adding different artificial flavouring. There’s so much effort involve to make multiple fillings and they may all use different techniques so the only flavour I was confident of making for my macarons was vanilla Swiss buttercream.
Prior to joining ABC Cooking, all I could bake at home were macarons (only Vanilla flavour though. Other flavours weren’t good) and cheesecakes (which to me were the easiest) and I joined with the intention to learn how to make cakes because I had no success getting it right at home. I thought I wouldn’t have much value added by attending the macaron lesson at ABC Cooking Studio but did so anyway because this is the last of my 18 Cake Basic course and I wanted to have the complete set of recipe in this batch. Turns out I gained more than I thought! The technique for these strawberry and chocolate flavoured whipped ganache filling was something new to me and they were delicious. Definitely going to make this at home next time!
When I decided to sign up for ABC Cooking I thought I would take just 6 lessons because not everything appealed to me/ some of the items I already knew how to bake. I was convinced to take 12 instead, to meet the criteria for some perks and the staff also told me “You are a baker. You will want to learn more”. It was very true – soon after I saw myself wanting to attend lessons I never planned for because they look fun and I became open to learning out of my comfort zone. It wasn’t long before I decided I’m just going to learn all 18 cakes before the menu changes! No regrets because some of the unassuming recipes turned out to be my favourite and for those I thought I already knew, there were new tricks to be learnt! Moral of the story: Don’t be too quick to judge! Be open to learning new things, with an open mind.
Macaron class was my last of the 18 cake basic course and is also my 18th month since I signed up with ABC Cooking! It has been one cake lesson a month for me and coincidentally they are going to renew the cake menu from March onwards. Looking forward to learning more cakes! And by the way, these macarons tastes great! I can see why this is one of the most popular cake basic class at ABC. You’d be glad to know that they’re keeping this one even in the new menu!
Hungry Bird rating: 5/5
December Bread Basic – Tomato & Anchovy Pizza
I love pizza! This pizza recipe has a unique bread crust and honestly, I don’t really eat pizza crust (yup, I will throw away the crust) when having pizza but for this one it is different. The bread itself was very nice and chewy. The toppings could be more, of course. I will be more generous when I bake it on my own!
Hungry Bird rating: 5/5
December Bread Basic – Strawberry Almond Cream
So far whenever I learn a new bread I would think it is the best bread ever. But for this one I can’t say the same. No doubt it looks really cute and having 8 pieces is a lot, I find that the texture of the bread wasn’t nice at all. The dough itself was very sticky, hence we had to knead it quite a lot for it to be dry enough to work with. Perhaps it was overworked or perhaps it was intended to be; the bread itself was kinda dry.
Hungry Bird rating: 2.5/5
February Bread Basic – Cheese Stick
Regrettably I did not get to attend any bread class in January because my bread teacher’s class kept getting swapped out the last minute. But I’m glad I managed to squeeze in a class at the beginning of February. I chose Cheese Stick at random and judging from the picture I thought it would be a harder, dryer bread. Little did I know, this bread was super soft, and was very similar to my favourite Melting Cheese Bun from Donq bakery! It was a pleasant surprise that I never asked for but wanted. I love that this recipe was one of the easiest too, and the dough was easy to deal with. I would totally make this at home again, but with way more cheese!
Hungry Bird rating: 4.5/5
December Wagashi – Steamed Chestnut & Karukan
Here’s a wagashi to represent winter season! The white top layer is meant to look like a layer of snow over the brown earth.
Steamed chestnut yokan and karukan is actually 2 different wagashi, but here at ABC Cooking we combined it into a 2 steamed layer cake! The two layers actually went pretty well together with the karukan balancing out the sweetness of the anko.
The bottom layer is made of red bean paste mixed with flour and starch which firms up like a “kueh” when steamed. Traditionally the chestnuts will be placed on top covering the entire surface as much as possible, but since we’re doing a modified version with 2 layers, we placed the chestnuts below.
The Karukan 軽羮 top layer is a mountain yam steamed cake. It can be made with either powdered mountain yam, Yamaimo 山芋 (commonly found in Japanese supermarkets as it’s used for easy making of Okonomiyaki!) or freshly grated mountain yam. Chinese yam 淮山药/ Nagaimo 長芋 is a possible alternative. The yam gives the steamed cake a elastic and slightly mochi like texture and I like it very much! Traditionally this is steamed on its own and served as rectangle blocks looking like sponge.
Hungry Bird rating: 3/5
January Wagashi – Kimishigure
Kimishigure 黄身時雨 is a wagashi that represents this wet, winter season. 時雨 Shigure refers to the rain when autumn transits to winter.
It is steamed like a bun, but the dough is interestingly made with close to little (rice) flour, mainly just white bean paste and egg yolks! The dough went in whole but cracked naturally during steaming, revealing the red bean paste filling. It is definitely something interesting to make, a recipe with ingredients and techniques I’ve never explored before; but I wouldn’t say it’s my preferred wagashi because it is very sweet, since it is essentially white bean paste outside and red bean paste inside. However, it pairs well with a rich, bitter bowl of Uji matcha which neutralises the sweetness of the wagashi. Side note: I find that it tastes much better when eaten warm! A few seconds in the microwave will do the trick.
Featuring today is the matcha bowl I made while in Okayama in spring last year with JR West & ABC Cooking Singapore! After months of waiting it has finally reached me and I love it! This is made from 備前 Bizen clay and the colour is naturally formed during firing in the kiln. Random imperfections is what makes it unique, just like how it is with the cracked aesthetics of Kimishigure. I’d say this is the perfect matcha bowl for this wagashi!
Hungry Bird rating: 3/5
February Wagashi – Ukishima
It is still the dead of winter season in Japan in February, so I chose to do this steamed wagashi for this month. Ukishima 浮島 means floating island and it is a steamed layer cake. It is similar to chinese steamed cake I guess, except that it uses bean paste as the main ingredient, with chestnut and boiled beans in between . It has very minimal flour in fact. The bottom layer uses red bean paste while the top two uses white bean paste – half with matcha added and the other with a drop of yellow colouring (optional, because egg yolks would make it slightly yellow already but I like mine to be vibrant). I would probably try this if I get my hands on sakura-an 桜餡 again next time in Japan and make a sakura pink version! I can already imagine how pretty that would look.
Hungry Bird rating: 3.5/5
December Seasonal Trial – Snow White’s Dome
For the Christmas season, ABC had 2 different Christmas cake trial classes at both studios. This one was offered at Takashimaya studio and it features cream cheese filling, making it somewhat different from what I imagined. But overall, the cake technique is similar to most other trial lesson cakes at ABC.
Hungry Bird rating: 3.5/5
December Seasonal Trial – Angel’s Berries in Wonderland
The trial lesson at Westgate was a typical Christmas shortcake. I felt it was very similar to the May seasonal trial cake lesson I did last time, except with different decoration. I also did not like that the inside filling was just jam, no fresh fruits. But the amount of fresh fruits as toppings were quite a lot at least…
Hungry Bird rating: 2.5/5
January Seasonal Trial – Boar’s Invasion
I finally got to try a Bread trial lesson! This was in line with the year of the boar – a boar shaped bread but with curry tuna mayo filling. Usually cute food doesn’t taste good but I was surprised that this bread was very tasty. It would be something I would make again at home!
Hungry Bird rating: 4/5
February Seasonal Trial – Raspberry Romance
For February there are 2 different trial lessons at Westgate and Takashimaya. Both are cakes for Valentine’s day, and I got to attend this one at Westgate. It is a raspberry cheesecake baked individually in cupcake liners. I already know how to make cheesecakes of this sort so it was nothing new to learn, except for the decoration part which was quite fun. The taste was alright, nothing more than I expected. It was also quite small as in, the proportion of cheese to biscuit – you can’t see it here but it looks like half the tart’s height was biscuit. Only thing worth raving about it is the pretty aesthetic!
Hungry Bird rating: 2.5/5
Over the year end and festive season, I made many things at home using ABC Cooking’s recipes. I love how I achieved success at my home attempts!
Olive Bread with Rock Salt
I am so glad I took the Bread Basic course at ABC Cooking. Bread making was never something I thought I’d pick up and I only decided to sign up because I enjoyed having fun during lessons at the studio. It was my happy place to be. But I gained much more than just 2 hours of leisure – the recipes were actually simple enough that I could remake it at home! I did this for my festive year end dinner and having freshly baked bread at my dinner table (not reheated bread, mind you) was something I never dreamed of but actually loved to have, in retrospect. It was such a luxurious touch to the whole dinner spread! This Olive Bread was perfect as a dinner bread.
Tomato & Anchovy Pizza
I actually attempted this twice. I conclude that for pizza, just spam all the cheese you want! This is such a practical savoury bread recipe. It served well as dinner!
Chocolate & Cranberry Scones
I love scones. Period. In fact, I made these twice! I would call myself someone who is picky about scones and this one was actually one of the better scones I can find locally, albeit different style from authentic English scones, but still pretty damn good.
Carre Alsacein & Sale Stick
Almonds are a typical feature of Chinese New Year cookies because the Chinese pronunciation of almond sounds like happiness. I decided to make something different from the usual almond cookie this year, using this recipe I learnt in ABC Cooking Taiwan!
I had lots of leftover egg whites because I used egg yolks for pineapple tarts during Chinese New Year. I decided to use the egg whites for Financiers, which is not a typical Chinese New Year pastry, but looking like gold bars and containing almonds, it is very apt. I tried 2 recipes – the tried & tested ABC Cooking recipe, and a recipe from Laduree recipe book (yes the same book as the one which I got my macaron recipe from). I found Laduree’s way too sweet and liked ABC’s more! And trying it fresh out of the oven, I can vouch that they tastes way better when fresh, even though still nice after a few days.
Chocolate (Nama Chocolate)
For Valentine’s day this year I decided to make chocolate, keeping up the tradition I’ve been doing since previous years. The nama chocolate is the easiest but no fail!
March Seasonal Trial Lessons For the month of March, a bread seasonal trial lesson will be offered at both Takashimaya and Westgate studios! For Takashimaya they are offering Nutty Maple Blossom, a bread topped with nuts and maple glaze. At Westgate they have Wheaty Olive Bacon, an Italian style Semolina wheat savoury bread with bacon strips and olive.
April Seasonal Trial Lessons
For April it is Cake Seasonal Trial once again! For Takashimaya it will be individual mini blueberry souffle cheesecakes and for Westgate it will be a chocolate brownie like cake with premium looking decoration!
You’ll get to bring home 6 pieces of cheesecake or 8 pieces of brownies after the lesson.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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