I’m back to recap my experience at ABC Cooking for the months of March and April 2019! I usually recap once every 3 months but I’ve been doing so many lessons lately, it’s better to publish this post now.
ABC Cooking Singapore 4th Anniversary
ABC Cooking Singapore just turned 4 this April and they threw a celebratory 4th Anniversary Party for members and guests to attend. There were very good deals during the party and so I decided to take up Bread Master course! I will start in August, earliest, after I complete 24 sessions of Bread Basic. I have 12 more to go, which I aim to finish in July!
Honestly I never thought that I would ever take up bread lessons, let alone Bread Master. I guess somewhere along the way I discovered that making bread sparks more joy than making cakes, even though I still love cakes.
The party had 6 sessions and I attended the session which was most crowded – the last session on a Friday evening! It was indeed very crazy, but we all had fun.
So anyway the highlight of the party (for me) was the lucky draw and I won a small prize, but it’s something I’d be happy to have – this beautiful Japanese Minoyaki Plate!
Actually what I won was a set of Le Creuset heart shaped ramekins with tray, but I swapped with it with another (new) member for the Minoyaki Plate. We all walked home happy!
During the party they announced that the new Funan IT Mall Studio will be opening in June 28th this year! I look forward to attending yet another party! The new studio will have a unique concept – it will feature a multi-purpose space where you can do more than just cooking. It is also suitable for event bookings because they will have bigger tables which can accommodate up to 8 pax (instead of the usual 4 pax) should you need to book it for your events! I’m looking forward to the new location already. Another important update announced was the expansion of ABC Cooking Studio out of Asia! They will be opening a studio in Los Angeles in the months to come. This will definitely make USA a more attractive place to visit for me.
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
March Cake Basic – Paris-Brest
This is a lesson I’ve been aiming to attend even before they included this in Singapore’s recipe selection. I first saw it offered at ABC in other countries like Taiwan, Hong Kong etc and wanted to attend it there. I was sure I was gonna attend it in Taipei when I was there last year in Nov, but in September, ABC Singapore announced that this would be offered from March this year as part of the new Cake menu line-up so I changed plans.
On hindsight I’m glad I didn’t do this in Taipei last year because there was no way I could bring this home and I also can’t possibly finish it all by myself! I did a Florentine biscuit like class in Taipei instead last year and it was a good decision. I could bring it back to Singapore!
What’s so special about Paris-Brest that I wanted to learn it so much, you may wonder?
(By the way Brest is a town in France and the name of this pastry is named after the 2 places in France to commemorate a bicycle race that took place between the 2 places. The shape of this pastry is meant to look like a wheel!)
This because I had a super delicious Paris-Brest at Le Bistrot Paul Bert in Paris a few years back! I found out about this bistro from a Parisian food blog. It’s always fullly reserved everyday but luck has it that I managed to get a reservation when I reach Paris and called them using the Airbnb phone!
The savoury stuff were all delicious but I also took note of the highly recommended Paris Brest dessert. The more common form of choux in France is as profiteroles which I also love but Paris-Brest was something different! That version of Paris-Brest had hazelnut flavoured cream (praline) and it was just so good.
I don’t expect ABC Cooking to have that level of Paris-Brest, because even within France I’m sure that’s one of the better ones, but I’m sure excited to learn how to make this structure of choux! Actually the original flavour of Paris-Brest is praline, so this ABC version is quite modified.
For this recipe the focus was more on the decoration rather than the substance I feel.
For the filling they used instant custard powder (which is starch + flavoring actually, to mimic a custard texture rather than being real egg custard) and the taste of the custard filling was indeed quite artificial.
Overall I think this recipe scores more on aesthetics and novelty of making it – the technique for choux is something different from making the usual sponge cake and the assembling is fancy. Thee taste is just actually below average (due to the instant custard) and in fact you can easily find better choux commercially
There are some cake recipes at ABC which tastes better / as good as the good commercially available pastries and sadly, this one isn’t one of them, only because of the bad tasting custard. If they would change their recipe to include real custard, I’ll definitely rate it higher. In fact, ABC Cooking in Taiwan uses a mascarpone cheese base for the filling instead of custard/ instant custard. I reckon that will taste much better than this.
Hungry Bird rating: 3/5
April Cake Basic – Double Cheesecake
I chose to do this cake in April because it’s Ichigo season! Honestly, judging from the picture, I expected this cake to be one of those good looking but average tasting ones. I did not really have high expectations, but to my pleasant surprise, it actually tasted better than I imagined! This is a no-bake cheesecake, which is normally it’s not my preferred kind of cheesecake because most of the time it becomes too tough with too much gelatin in it. However, this Double Cheesecake recipe has less gelatin and the result is a soft wobbly mousse like cheesecake!
It was also quite difficult to do this nicely because the assembling wasn’t very easy. But the effort was quite worth it I must say, because it does look pretty! I like the pink portion of the cheese more – it has strawberry puree in it and the flavour matched so nicely with the cheese!
Hungry Bird rating: 4.5/5
April Bread Basic – Rice Flour and Matcha Daifuku
This was one of the first bread which caught my attention when I first looked at the bread menu last time because it is matcha and I’m a matcha fan! This dough is far by the easiest one I ever worked with. It did not stick to my hands AT ALL. The scraper wasn’t even required during the kneading! I attribute this to the absence of egg in the dough and that it uses Shiratama-ko (glutinous rice flour), which made the overall dough more dry.
The original recipe calls for Kanoko beans which is a Japanese style of candied beans (could be red beans or a mix of other beans) which has been boiled soaked in sugar syrup and looks a bit translucent but in ABC Singapore they gave us these Waitrose Mixed Salad Beans (in water) which is totally different. I’m not a fan of these beans. It’s quite dry, hard and tasteless.
A piece of gyuhi (or you can call it mochi, but gyuhi is a more precise term as this is made softer and stickier) lies inside the bread. We made it by microwave. It’s called a Daifuku because we wrap the filling up in a ball like a Daifuku. In the end the bread was softer and fluffier than I imagined! I thought it would be a hard, dry bread based on how effortless the kneading was but the bread itself was actually soft. The inferior quality beans (or rather, it does not match with this recipe because of the hard and dry texture and the lack of taste) made me rate it lower, but if Kanoko beans were used it would have scored 0.5 points more.
Hungry Bird rating: 3.5/5
April Bread Basic – Chocolate Marble
This is the bread that everyone talked about. I was really looking forward to this lesson for the longest time. Everyone has good things to say about this bread and even in ABC Taiwan, this is their most popular lesson! I actually was supposed to do it in January but my bread teacher’s class got swapped and I didn’t want the replacement teacher. Then for some unlucky reason all my classes for that month with my teacher got changed because she was on MC so I didn’t get to attend any class. I’m glad I got to catch it for the very last time before the Bread Basic course changes in July!
All along I was kinda scared of attending this class because people tell me the dough is difficult to handle, so I delayed it till I’ve had more experience with other bread classes first. However, after trying this class, realized it wasn’t as difficult as I imagined! The dough actually came together nicely and kneading wasn’t as difficult as others claim it to be. The dough for this bread could actually be pulled back when kneaded without sticking to palms to table eventually! I’ve actually had other classes with stickier dough. For e.g., I find that Maple Butter Swiss Zopf‘s dough was a lot stickier than this one.
And then there’s the Strawberry Almond Cream bread, where the dough was so wet and sticky throughout, and took so much effort to knead with the worst part being that the bread wasn’t nice at all – the texture turned out way too dry with coarse air pockets and probably was overworked because it was hard to knead without sticking everywhere! That was the only bread I kinda regretted spending a lesson slot on. It was only pretty to look at (looks like premium donuts) but it wasn’t nice to eat. So far I’ve not heard of anybody who loves it in particular after making it. I digress.
Back to my Chocolate Marble loaf…
This is actually the first full loaf bread I ever made at ABC Cooking. I think I actually prefer full loaves of bread rather than individual buns! The volume of dough for this recipe is also a lot more than all my other Bread lessons!
This is a soft fluffy bread. When toasted it becomes crispy. Both ways are nice. The texture is actually quite similar to typical loaf breads we get from supermarket, sans all the additives, and the taste was within expectations.
However, I did not think it was very special because it tastes like typical loaf bread. I mean I know it’s supposed to be like a typical loaf bread, and that’s what I got, but it didn’t feel like something exclusive to Japanese bakeries. It was a good bread which you can find in many places, whereas there were other bread recipes which are more unique and can only be found in Japanese bakeries or made at home, like the Maple Butter Swiss Zopf which I did make at home again.
For those who missed out on learning this bread, you’d be happy to learn that the Coffee Nuts Loaf offered in the new Bread Basic renewal in July has the same type of dough! Only difference is the flavour and the shaping.
Hungry Bird rating: 4/5
April Bread Basic – Camembert Sausage
I will be honest here, I only took up this lesson because I learnt that this was offered as a Riche Bread class in ABC Hong Kong. I was thinking maybe there’s something worth learning about it to be offered as a Riche course in other countries!
And I am so glad I did, because this is one of my top few favourite breads so far! The taste and texture surpassed what I expected. Comparing to other sausage and cheese breads you get out there, this is so much nicer. The cheese is so rich because a lot of good quality camembert is used and there’s also mozzarella, whole grain mustard and chicken cocktail sausage. The bread has whole wheat flour in it which gave a nice unique texture, and when the bread is toasted it is truly the best bread ever.
I’ve seen many people do this bread before and the aesthetics of it turned out not so pretty and I was initially really afraid that my bread would turn out looking ugly as well. I gathered tips from a senior bread instructor from my previous lesson and also my instructor that day was patient enough to let me explore. My bread aesthetics is not quite perfect yet but I’m satisfied with how it looks! (and beyond satisfied by how it tastes!)
Hungry Bird rating: 5/5
March World Cooking – Popular Ethnic Thai Meal
I wasn’t actually intending to learn this menu but I saw a class with nobody booked in so I decided to book it! I like my cooking lessons to be solo.
On the menu we have:
1. Pad Gaprao aka Basil Pork
2. Vietnamese Fried Spring Roll
3. Tom Kha Gai
This is considered a new class because they just refreshed their World Cooking course last August and this was the first time it is being offered. However, the main dish of Basil Pork was actually offered in the previous World Cooking course, just that the sides dishes are different now.
My favourite item from this meal would be the Vietnamese Fried Spring Rolls. This dish came as a surprise to me and it ended up as my highlight of the meal. Firstly it never occurred to me that paper rice rolls can be fried too! I always thought the fried spring rolls used a different sort of wrapper. And the wrapping method was something I never imagined before too! If you want to learn it you need to go to ABC. Not my method to share. The whole flavour was perfect too. I love it when I actually learn something unexpected but useful at ABC!
Tom Kha Gai is a coconut based soup, similar to Tom Yam. Cooking Thai soup is something new to me. It isn’t as complicated as I thought. I’ll definitely try making this again!
As for the Basil Pork, I’ve tried recipes found online at home before but this one is kind of different and was new to me.
The portion of everything was quite filling, a bit too much actually! And it was my first meal of the day at 3:30pm so I was literally a hungry bird. Normal eaters would struggle to finish I suppose. I wouldn’t compare this to a real Thai cooking recipe because South East Asian food is full of tedious steps. At ABC they teach recipes and methods which are optimized and simplified so it is doable daily by busy people/ novice cooks! For a simple recipe and quick meal this is not bad. I love the spring rolls most!
Overall I do think this whole recipe is practical yet delicious and is something of value added to learn.
Hungry Bird rating: 4/5
March Best Selection Cooking – A Comforting Meal for the Family
This cooking lesson teaches how to make Mapo Tofu the slow way (not using pre-mixed sauce) and handmade dumplings. That’s right, we make the dumpling skin.
I absolutely love mapo tofu after trying Chen Kentaro‘s but trying not to set expectations too high because realistically, if his was so easy to recreate then he wouldn’t get his 2 Michelin Stars for Shisen Hanten.
When I cook it at home I will use a sauce mix I bought from Japan called 陳麻婆豆腐. Initially I thought it was from Shisen Hanten but I later found out it is another brand originating from China but popular in Japan. It is also nice (much nicer than other sauce mixes we have in Singapore, which did not make me love mapo tofu last time) but not as good as Shisen Hanten! The latter has so much more umami flavour. With pre-mixed sauces so easily accessible, it doesn’t really make sense to go one step back and buy the various bottles of sauces to mix it myself if I were to cook at home but the value in the lesson is getting to learn more.
The mapo tofu can’t compare with Chen Kentaro for sure (his is more flavourful) and slightly inferior to the 陳麻婆豆腐 brand, probably because the spices weren’t strong enough – it needs to be spicier.
I’m glad they gave us koshihikari rice for this because it makes a lot of difference. I find that Japanese style mapo tofu goes really well with short grain Japanese rice. Chen Kentaro serves his this way too.
As for the dumplings, they were a novelty to make but freshly made skin is way to thick and moist, it wouldn’t be crispy like when using store bought skin. I guess this skill would be useful only in event where I can’t find factory made dumpling wrappers!
Alternatively, I can imagine that freshly made dumpling skin would be more suitable for steamed or boiled dumplings which are meant to not be crispy.
The soup was tasteless by the way that’s why I’m not mentioning it.
For this cooking lesson, a lot of time was spent on the prep work actually, chopping things up. I honestly dislike spending time on prep work because it’s not fun. I will use whatever apparatus to optimize the process as much as I can (like using a chopper, mandolin slicer etc). The actual cooking is very fast and straightforward – there wasn’t really anything new about the technique. The only fun in cooking is watching the ingredients cook up over the stove I feel!
Hungry Bird rating: 4/5
April World Cooking – All-Time Favourite Mexican Meal
Mexican food has been one of my favourites for a while and it was quite exciting that ABC included a Mexican themed recipe in their World Cooking Course! For this class we will make tortillas. I’ve always liked Mexican food but I’ve never thought of making my own tortillas!
I love Chiptole in USA. I wish they would come to SG too! I’ve tried most Mexican restaurants here already like Lucha Loco, Super Loco, Piedra Negra, El Mero Mero, GYG, Mexout, Muchachos etc. My go-to would be GYG because it’s cheap and good and fast food like, reminding me of Chipotle!
For this meal we are making:
▪Pico de Gallo
▪Chili con carne
For the pico de gallo and guacamole, coriander was supposed to be added in, finely chopped (which means it will be so mixed in, impossible to remove once mixed). My face literally went 😨 when I saw it. After 10 seconds pf hesitation I decided to ask if we can omit it because that stuff is gross and surprisingly (or maybe not, because coriander is really gross to many people) the other participant also hates coriander too. So we were BOTH SO HAPPY to omit it!
The instructor seemed puzzled by the disdain towards coriander and asked us whether we can accept spring onions (not in this recipe but just asking) and we said yeah why not? I don’t get why people group spring onion and coriander/ parsley in the same category because the taste is entirely different! One is aromatic while the other is odourous. I like spring onions in fact!
The Chili con Carne here uses chicken breast meat, which I was kind of disappointed with upon hearing it because I imagined that ground beef would be better. Surprisingly though, the chicken breast meat wasn’t tough and it absorbed the flavours from the sauce well and became really tasty!
For the handmade tortillas, we made it from scratch with flour and yeast etc and even had to let it proof. Some recipes online said it should be unleavened though, so I’m not sure which way is better. Rolling it out big and thin was the fun part. I wanted mine to be as round so I self improvised and trimmed off any odd edges to make it look rounder. It is then pan fried to cook.
To eat, we had to wrap up the ingredients like a taco and the combination of of everything was on point. It was pretty much like a real Mexican meal except that it wasn’t spicy. I need some habanero sauce or Jalapeños!
Lastly we have churros, which was made from dough that was cooked over the stove first before piping out. I absolutely love churros especially the Spanish sort which is dipped in hot molten chocolate. Here they simply gave us cinnamon sugar, but it was good enough. Churros should always be eaten warm.
Hungry Bird rating: 4.5/5
April Japanese Home Cooking – Yakitori and Grilled Onigiri
I bought a Le Creuset Grill Pan so I thought I should learn take this lesson to at least have a grilled dish I can cook in future. I took this class with a new and Part Time instructor and sadly the experience with the instructor wasn’t what I’d expect from a class at ABC. However, that’s another story to tell.
This recipe was pretty basic and was decent at least, but will do. I don’t have much words to say about this.
Hungry Bird rating: 3/5
March Wagashi – Sakura-mochi
Sakura-Mochi class is offered every March and September at ABC and it is this very recipe which made me decide to sign up for the Wagashi course!
I joined the Wagashi course in September but I wanted to wait till March to do this because I want the seasons to match my Wagashi, and it helps that first bloom already started in Japan! 🌸
There are 2 types of Sakura Mochi and we were to make 4 of each type.
The Kanto (Tokyo) style sakura mochi is like a pancake with Shiratama-ko 白玉粉 wrapped over red bean paste and wrapped with a sakura leaf. The Kansai (Osaka) version uses Domyoji-ko 道明寺粉 (broken rice) wrapped over the same red bean paste. In Japan I usually see Kansai style sakura-mochi wrapped with sakura lead as well, which I guess is for ease of eating because the Domoyoji-ko is very sticky. But this version at ABC with a pickled sakura and gold flakes on top looks prettier!
And I was pleasantly surprised that it turned out to be as delicious as it looks! The picked sakura flavour was very fragrant, I can even smell it from far away (like upstairs in my home) when I took it out to serve. Among the 2 types, I preferred the Kansai style a lot more. The Domyoji-ko gives a very nice chewy and sticky texture. They also added in chopped sakura leaves to the red bean paste filling for the Kansai version, so it was packed with umami flavour within the sweetness. Most other bean paste based wagashi I’ve made had a one dimensional sweet flavour only, so I was delighted that this was not one of them! Also, the texture of the Domyoji-ko is a lot sticky and softer than what I had in Japan, but I actually think that’s what makes it nicer! I can understand that those sold in supermarkets in Japan has to be made drier to be easier to handle.
Wagashi is not something of practical use compared to Cooking, Bread or Cake. I honestly wouldn’t remake them at home. So why did I pay to learn this?
In 2015 when ABC first came to Singapore, what drew my attention was the actually Wagashi course. I’ve always been interested in learning Wagashi! I even tried making my own at home with ingredients found easily in Singapore, but obviously I only managed to pull of some of the most easy ones.
But back then, the prices at ABC looked high and I didn’t really understand how the system worked. I put off the idea of finding out more. Later on I tried to book a Wagashi class conducted by a local shop in Kyoto in one of my 2015 Japan trips, but my flight got delayed during transit and I spent one night in Kaohsiung instead, missing a day of my itinerary. I was so disappointed to miss my chance at Wagashi making!
Fast forward to 2017, I joined ABC taking the Cake course after being interested for SO long. I did not sign up for Wagashi because Cake was more practical. I then got to know about 1 day English lessons in Japan by ABC and during my Tokyo trip in 2017, I booked a Wagashi 1 day lesson, so in Tokyo I had my first experience making Nerikiri! Subsequently in other trips to Japan I attended 2 more 1 day English lessons at ABC which was also Wagashi, making it 3 lessons in total. For a while I thought that it was enough to learn Wagashi in Japan, no need to learn in Singapore . I mean Japanese teachers more authentic also right? But somehow I decided I simply enjoyed being at the studio attending classes and I like doing things individually (Cooking is a group work of 4 unless class is not full). Thus I registered for the Wagashi course and Bread course when my Cake basic course was about to finish and no regrets since!
I will be honest here: Wagashi making is totally different from Cake or Bread making. It is not as fun to “play” like Cake classes or as stress free as bread classes. It requires you to be calm and zen so you can be precise in sculpting those little things. It requires a lot of patience. No sloppy slip shod workmanship 🚫. It’s really a Japanese thing.
Long story short, I was actually looking forward to the Sakura-Mochi for a really long time! I was planning to take the Wagashi course since early last year, before March, to do sakura-mochi last year during the spring season, but procrastinated. I later decided I will join in 2019 March and have been buying all sorts of sakura themed serve ware from Japan for potential photos. The effort put in to making good photos my platform is real. My sakura tray, gold sakura plate, sakura place mat and pink sakura tea saucer is from Afternoon Tea. The sakura branch is from Daiso.
In September 2018 I decided I want to start on my Wagashi course earlier than intended so I did other recipes first. They have 12 different Wagashi recipes offered in Singapore (lucky us! Some other countries only has 6 classes) and the course comes in a set of 6 classes. I finished my first 6 classes last month so today is my first class on the 2nd 6 lesson course! I love Wagashi mainly because it’s so photogenic and I love taking photos of beautiful (and delicious) food. The food has to be delicious or else I wouldn’t post. I like to food pictures to depict food with real taste, not just looks!
Hungry Bird rating: 5/5
April Wagashi – Daifuku
Daifuku is quintessentially the most known kind of Wagashi to foreigners, where it’s usually generically called “Mochi”. Even before being aware of it’s Japanese origins, I’ve always known of Mochi as that ball with a thin and chewy glutinous rice cake skin, with sweet fillings, and I loved it.
For this lesson we were going to fill it with red bean paste filling, and prepare 2 kinds of Daifuku – Yomogi Daiufuku and Mame Daifuku.
Yomogi (よもぎ) a.k.a. mugwort is a kind of leaf ingredient and will give a dark green colour. Compared to matcha and wasabi, the 2 more famous green pigments from Japan, yomogi is lesser known to the outside world I suppose. When I visited Japan I saw this quite often in wagashi, like in Hanami Dango. Another wagashi made of just the yomogi in glutinous rice cake is called 草餅 Kusamochi and can be eaten with Kinako sprinkled on top. But with red bean paste wrapped inside, it is called Yomogi Daifuku.
The second variant I made was Mame Daifuku (豆大福) which has Akaendo 赤えんどう豆, Which is a type of round big red bean from Hokkaido, showing through the skin of the Daifuku. This is not the common small red beans which we call Azuki 小豆. Mame Daifuku is also quite a common and traditional version of Daifuku commonly found in Japan!
The Mame Daifuku has fillings of red bean paste with a pinch of salt. I find that the salt actually gives it a nicer flavour, it isn’t just one dimensionally sweet.
As for the Yomogi Daifuku, the fillings has black sesame paste mixed into the red bean paste which is something I never thought of before.
Both were sweet but the subtle saltiness helped balance it out and of course the mild umami flavour from matcha paired well with it.
Hungry Bird rating: 4/5
At ABC Cooking they have 3 fixed recipes for their trial lessons which has been available since the very beginning of their operations in Singapore. In addition to the classic 3, they will introduce a monthly special which is available only for a month and will not be repeated again. I got to try a few bread trial classes this time!
Classic Bread Trial – Ham Mayonnaise Bread & Cinnamon Roll
This is the classic bread trial recipe which uses 1 basic bread dough and they divide it into 2 parts, one part to wrap ham for a savoury bread and the other to wrap cinnamon sugar and rum soaked raisins. We were to make 3 pieces of each flavour.
Firstly the main difference between classic trial vs seasonal trial is that classic trial recipe comes with a step by step illustration in the recipe sheet too! For seasonal trial it is all written instructions only. The bread dough was a very simple one to knead and isn’t very fancy, but I guess it is made to be doable for beginners.
The filling ingredients was very simple but I was pleasantly surprised that they actually used rather good ingredients! For the Ham bread, a huge piece of Ham was used per piece – around 20cm by 15cm? I initially thought they wanted to give us only 1 slice for all 3 pieces! It was so big that we had to fold the ham up before laying it onto our dough for rolling up. And the sort of Ham used was good ham – like the real muscle pork leg ham (like sliced from the actual meat with the fat still on at the side) from Huber’s Butchery, not the kind processed of square budget picnic / breakfast ham from supermarkets (like those with ground meat blended with starch and flavour) – the kind you would find on cheap pizza or breads from most random bakeries.
The raisins were pre-soaked in rum for better flavour, and I’m sure most raisin breads would not do this because rum is expensive.
Overall I would think that this bread is not bad, but obviously not the best bread among all those that ABC teaches during Trial lessons because they have so many good bread recipes.
Hungry Bird rating: 3.5/5
March Seasonal Trial – Nutty Maple Bread
This is a basic bread shaped like a flower and topped with pecans, cashew and sunflower seeds drenched with maple syrup, followed by coffee glaze drizzle after it’s done baking.
It was my 2nd time trying bread trial lessons and compared to regular lessons there is some differences. For trial they tend to pay less attention to details, like we split up the dough into 5 pieces approximately compared to regular lessons where we will weigh out each portion to be more accurate. They also did not give us the degas rolling pin to degas our bread dough during shaping.
Anyway the bread was delicious and I liked it! The coffee taste was very strong and in fact I can’t taste any maple syrup at all. They should call it Nutty Coffee Blossom instead!
Hungry Bird rating: 4/5
March Seasonal Trial – Wheaty Olive Bacon
After some stalking online of overseas ABC Cooking websites, I realised that in ABC Cooking China, this very recipe is offered under the Bread Basic regular menu! Usually for trial lessons at ABC, they use very simple recipes and they are sometimes quite uninspiring. This one however proved to be regular lesson worthy because the dough was indeed something different from the usual bread Trial lesson dough! They said it’s an Italian style bread and it:
✔ Uses durum semolina flour
✔ Uses a higher amount of water, making it softer
❌ Doesn’t use butter (olive oil instead)
❌ Doesn’t include egg
The high amount of water meant that kneading took longer and probably won’t be as manageable for absolute beginners to making compared to other trial bread recipes, but it’s more fun that way!
However, some aspects were Trial lesson quality. We were to make 4 pieces but we weren’t asked to weigh out the divided dough precisely. In regular lessons they would get us to weigh each piece to make sure it’s accurately even. Even though no rolling pin was provided, it was very easy to shape – just make a circle, wrap and roll! If I do it at home I would weigh and use rolling pin for sure. The finishing was also different from typical bread trial classes because we coat the surface with semolina flour and it’s done. No glazing required. This is an eggless bread recipe!
When it was warm it was really nice! The inside is very soft and the outside is crusty. It’s definitely one of those bread recipes which I will make at home again! I like how in this class we learn a different sort of bread dough so attending this has value added for members who’ve attended many bread lessons already.
This bread dough is actually very similar to the regular bread basic Olive Rock Salt bread! Only difference is we have durum semolina instead of cake flour and a little less sugar and absence of butter. That recipe uses the same high amount of water too and no egg. For a bread trial lesson, I’d say this class has quite high learning value.
Hungry Bird rating: 4/5
April Seasonal Trial – Berry Cheesy Souffle
I missed out on August 2017 Soufflé Cheese Cake trial at ABC back then (but I’ve recreated it at home using the recipe) and it was something I still regret because I attended the Trial Lesson for Japanese Hamburg Steak back then when I could actually have changed it to the Soufflé Cheese Cake since I booked the whole table of 4 with my friends back then. Anyway, after waiting for so long, they finally offered another similar Soufflé Cheese Cake trial, the Berry Cheesy Soufflé. This one has been offered in Japan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand, and probably more countries.
However, this recipe amount makes really small and tiny cheesecakes, and the size and shape reminds me of Snaffle’s from Hokkaido.
The taste was not quite like Snaffle’s standards of course, but it’s not bad! The cake itself isn’t too sweet. The frosting on top however, was quite unnecessary in my opinion. It was a mix of cream cheese, heavy cream, sugar and lemon juice, which was very rich and tart and I find that it defeats the purpose of eating a flight fluffy cheesecake if you slap that on top. But obviously, the main reason for having that frosting is for decoration.
I attended this trial lesson thrice actually, and the first time I chilled the cakes in the fridge and the texture became like a regular dense cheesecake, and so I will discourage doing that. This cheesecake should be eaten warm or a warmer room temperature for best results, where it is still fluffy. I still remember how I had a whole warm soufflé cheesecake from Rikuro Ojisan last year (actually I did it twice, on 2 of my Osaka trips last year) right out of the oven and it was so egg-y and fluffy!
Hungry Bird rating: 3/5
April Seasonal Trial – Choco Tiles
This recipe was offered at Westgate Studio only during the month of April. In Japan, they offered this as their Valentine’s day seasonal trial from January till 14th Feb this year. It is somewhat looking like a brownie, but the texture is absolutely different. It was kind of light and airy and the method is somewhat like the Gateau au Chocolat, except that more flour is involved here to hold up the structure better. I like this better than normal brownies I suppose because it’s less dense and heavy. While it is not bad as a trial class recipe, it is still nothing compared to the standards of cakes from the regular lesson menu!
Hungry Bird rating: 3.5/5
March Cake Basic (Thailand) – Tartelettes au Chocolat
I had the chance to go to Bangkok in March so of course I had to use my ABC Passport on a lesson there! The procedure of attending a lesson with Passport for Thailand is different from Taiwan or Japan, but the same for all other countries. It was just a coincidence that my first 2 Passport classes were in Japan and Taiwan, so it was my first time using the “normal” system to book a class. For Japan and Taiwan you need to call up each studio to book classes and it can be really stressful because you need to liaise over the phone to find out availability at each studio, and you need to call back on a later date if the class you wanted isn’t open for booking yet. For both Japan (before they launched a new system to book their English classes) and Taiwan I actually called in several times before I finally secured my classes.
So for Thailand and rest of the countries, how it works is you send a request through an online form, and they will get back to you via email. They will set up a temporary account on their usual member’s booking portal for you, using your Singapore (or whichever country you’re from) membership ID, and you can log in to book the class yourself. It is practically the same booking procedure as it is on your own country where you can book and cancel as and when you like to. Even if you prefer calling them up they are unable to book for you, so booking via the online portal is the only way. I initially thought that calling them up directly would be faster as I urgently wanted to book my ABC class before booking my air tickets, but they cannot do it for Passport members.
Thankfully the office in Thailand responded the following day and set up a temporary account for me which had validity until 30th April. I guess you can request up to 2 months ahead and camp to book classes for the more competitive studios (like Singapore or Hong Kong).
First you select the studio of your choice – for Thailand they have 2 within Bangkok, at Central World and Central Festival Eastville. The former is located within the city center, close to Chit Lom BTS and walking distance from the cluster of malls via a long overhead bridge. The latter is in a suburban mall only accessible via taxi or car.
You can filter your search to narrow it down.
As expected, the classes I potentially wanted at Central World was entirely full. I had not booked my air tickets yet but for this trip I was intending to attend a class on 15th March, any timing or 16th March morning, because I would arrive on the night of 14th and leave by evening of 16th. And initially, the slots for 16th were only at 4pm which means I would need to take the latest flight back possible. However, it was full by the time I got access to the booking account because I only requested 10 days before the trip commenced, as it was a last minute trip.
There were several classes I could do at Central Festival Eastville however. The classes at this studio was obviously less full. I could either just book a class at Eastville (and deal with bad traffic on the roads) or book the later flight home hoping that someone cancels their slot for 4pm on 16th for Central World. However, the later flight cost more and I had to mix airlines with my arrival flight to Bangkok as well so it was a hassle to book. Eventually I just went with the cheaper earlier flight on the same carrier on 16th March and just secretly hoped that Central World would have additional classes added in last minute.
And my wish eventually came true!!!!
On the Monday of that week, they added a 7pm class for Friday 15th March at Central World and it was exactly what I had decided on doing – Tartelettes au Chocolat!
I previously wanted to do Mousse aux Fruits Rouge, but I figured that it is a mousse and is way more perishable than a tart. It will not last out of the fridge for long and there’s no way I can bring it home if I can’t finish all of it.
Eventually the 4pm classes on 16th March I aimed (Tartelettes au Chocolat and Mousse aux Fruits) both had availability after some people cancelled but the new class on 7pm of 15th March worked better for me anyway because I could catch the more ideal flight home.
ABC Cooking Studio in Central World is located on the 3rd floor, near the back of Central World, next to Isetan. The dining area is located in the semi alfresco area, facing the main Ratchadamri Road and you can access it via the back door of the studio. The front door is located within the main part of the mall.
The studio is a lot smaller than ABC Cooking Singapore Takashimaya (which is in fact the largest outlet in South East Asia, and most other ABC Cooking in the world is actually this small cosy size) and they only have 10 tables, mostly arranged in a single file. This design makes it more spacious in fact.
Lessons here are conducted in Thai but all their instructors (save for 1 person) can speak English, so they will translate as the class proceeds. An English copy of the recipe is also provided if you ask for it, otherwise the default is given in Thai.
I noticed this poster outside advertising about their 1 Day English Thai Cooking Lessons! I would love to attend this if I had known about it. I did not see information about this on their website. It cost 1500 baht for members and 1800 baht for the public. Members with Passport can also use their free Passport class on a Thai Cooking Lesson, even if they did not purchase Cooking course or package (like me). On hindsight, I could have used my Passport on a Thai Cooking lesson, and then purchase a Single Class Ticket to attend the cake lesson at 1400 baht.
I was pretty excited for my class because I’ve always wanted to make these Chocolate Tarts after seeing it on ABC Cooking websites of other countries! I know Hong Kong offers this recipe too. For a long time I’ve always wondered how baked chocolate tart filling is made – most of the tarts I’ve seen commercially had a no-bake ganache-only filling.
For this tart we first baked the chocolate tart crust (pate sucre, method and ingredients similar to the Tarte aux Pommes except for the addition of cocoa powder) and later prepared the baked chocolate filling (hint: there’s beaten egg inside!). When the tart shell is crispy after baking twice (once with pie weights), we filled it with chopped candied orange peel, cocoa nibs and roasted almonds, followed by the liquid chocolate filling and the tart is baked again.
For a final touch, we made ganache to glaze the top of the tart and put on the final decorations!
Before chilling, the ganache glaze looks shiny and similar to the picture on the recipe, but once chilled the surface will become matte, which I noticed when I took a proper photos of my tarts the following day (yes I brought my own tray along with me to Bangkok just to take good food photos). The shine did not return even after being left at room temperature.
I actually could not finish eating these tarts and I carried the leftovers (2 tarts) back to Singapore using a lunch box I brought along. It survived the journey very well and made it back in one piece! I could even take a nice cross section of my tart at home.
Overall I really like this chocolate tart and would make this again! As for my feelings about ABC Cooking Thailand, I like how they provided English translations during lessons and the English recipe to take home. For those holding the ABC Passport, you should definitely try attending a lesson in Bangkok because this is such a convenient location to visit from every country (not just Singapore) isn’t it?
Hungry Bird rating: 5/5
Bread Trial: Curry Tuna Bread
I used the Boar’s Invasion recipe from January’s Seasonal Trial and made it at home in a non-boar shape for simplicity. I used the shape of a Kuriimupan but the fillings inside is the same curry mayo tuna. This recipe is a easy and good savoury bread.
Bread Basic: Cheese Sticks
I’m doing this bread at home because:
1. It is easy! (It’s always the easy recipes which I’ll recreate at home)
2. It’s delicious!
3. I didn’t get a nice photo when I made it at ABC because there was no daylight when I finished the class and I wanted to eat it right away.
(Actually it’s mainly because of reason 3)
The thing about baking bread at home is you got to keep trying to figure out where’s the best environment to proof your dough. Temperatures above 40°C will kill the yeast activity, while temperatures too low will work, but the timing taken to proof will be different. I guess I got to keep trying to make it better!
Bread Basic: Maple Butter Swiss Zopf
This is one of my favourite recipes – Maple Butter Swiss Zopf 🍁
Honestly I’m making it at home mainly because I didn’t get a good picture when I baked it at ABC but I also really missed the taste of this bread! Maple syrup bread is not easily available everywhere. I’ve only seen some at Donq or Johan Paris (basically Japanese bakeries). I used A grade maple syrup for this, not artificial maple flavoured syrup!
This recipe uses maple syrup knead into the dough, instead of sugar! Compared to the Cheese Sticks I made the day before, this dough is a lot more challenging to work with because it is stickier. The kneading took quite long for this one but eventually it became a nice ball of dough!
I’m pleased at the results! It looks like what it should be! I put more hazelnuts than the recipe asked for because more is more. I got the raw hazelnuts from Phoon Huat and toasted it in oven toaster after chopping them up. The baking temperature is quite high for this bread, so I didn’t toast my hazelnuts to 100%, maybe 75% toasted will do. I used ready baked almonds from the supermarket and as you can see, the almonds further browned after baking on the bread, almost charred, but it was still acceptable.
Zopf (literally means braid) is the most famous Swiss bread and is traditionally a treat Swiss people enjoy on Sundays! (And I made it on a Sunday. Yay!)
This method of braiding here is way more simple than true Swiss Zopf bread. The dough of a true Swiss Zopf had milk kneaded in it too and is brushed with egg yolk. It is also not shaped into a circle, but this version from ABC is good too so I ain’t complaining. Just saying.
Bread: Curry Onion Cheese
I only had red onions at home so I used that instead if yellow onions like the original recipe used. On hindsight, I think I would use yellow onions next time because the colour matches better, aesthetically speaking. But overall, it was a heavenly tasting, umami packed bread because of the Japanese S&B curry powder kneaded into the bread dough, and also seasoned in the cheese and onions! I uses the same block of Cheddar which I used in the Cheese Sticks as well as Mozzarella and Parmesan like the recipe called for.
Bread: Creamy Soft Bread
Strangely this bread actually tasted better the next day! I tried it fresh out of the oven and it was ok, but not exactly soft. Because this has custard filling, which I made form scratch using Hokkaido Milk and egg yolks (and it tasted heavenly!), I placed the leftovers in the fridge overnight. I expected the bread to deteriorate in quality but still ate it anyway the following day. I heated it up in the microwave for around 40 seconds on high, at 8 seconds intervals, until it was warm inside out. The result was a really soft and creamy bread and I liked it! I’m guessing that the moisture from the custard steamed up the bread form inside, so it wasn’t dry at all from microwaving.
May Seasonal Trial Lesson
For the month of May, the seasonal trial offered at Takashimaya and Westgate will be the same one, a Strawberry Tart!
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 or IG DM me @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