ABC Cooking Studio Singapore – Part 11

The 11th post about ABC will be interesting because now I’ll be featuring the new Funan studio and I’ve also taken my first Cake Master, Bread Master and Bread Riche classes! I have officially tried all types of classes at ABC Cooking now, except for Kids of course.

The new Funan outlet is up and running and I love how there’s a new option for classes in the city center. With more options now, I’ve a lot more lessons to attend and hence this will be a long post! I also took a few trips overseas to clear some Passport lessons.


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

July Cake Master – Charlotte aux Fruit

 

I actually finished my 18 basic classes in February. Before they even changed the cake basic menu in March. But I only purchased Cake Master during the Funan opening day recently so this is my first lesson!

I’ve never made a Charlotte cake before and this is my first time. For this lesson we were to make sponge fingers, the filling and then decoration.

For this cake master lessons they gave us real vanilla pod for vanilla flavour instead of extract/ essence for making the Crème Bavaroise filling that would fill the charlotte cake. Bavarian cream, crème bavaroise or simply bavarois is made from milk thickened with eggs and gelatin, into which whipped cream is folded.

Overall I felt that this cake was not really master level. The sponge and filling wasn’t difficult at all in fact. The difficulty in this cake is in arranging the fruits. We spent a lot of time cutting fruits too. The orange had to be removed of all white parts using a paring knife.

I am not a fruit person – apple, orange and pear, the 3 most common local fruits are all used here. Unless it’s Japan grown, I don’t really enjoy these 3 fruits. Despite this cake is being all about fruits, for me the best parts of this cake is the vanilla bean crème bavaroise! Just the cream and the sponge and berries is good already.

Compared to other cakes in the Master menu, this cake is probably not that worth learning, but will be good if it’s your first master lesson and you’re not that confident yet. The allocated timing is 150 mins only and that’s short for Master lesson, which is usually 180 mins – 240 mins. Even though we did overrun till 3 hrs for this class. It just means this recipe isn’t as complicated or has as many learning points as some of the other cakes.

Hungry Bird rating: 3.5/5

August Cake Basic – Orange Chiffon and Pudding

 

Chiffon cake recipes are often very simple but it takes skill and expertise to get it to the optimal texture. I attended the Earl Grey Chiffon of the old Cake Basic line up and that was my very first time doing a chiffon cake in my life. It wasn’t really up to my definition of passable chiffon cake because it partly sank in, which is why I sliced away a chunk of the bottom of the cake (which is the top of the cake when you bake it – chiffon cakes are served inverted) for my picture and that’s why it looks so short. With the renewal of the cake course and a new chiffon cake in the menu, I thought it’d be a good idea to try again. It also helps that the side recipe of caramel milk pudding was highly raved by many and I was interest to learn that too.

Some people are put off by the idea of the flavour of this cake, but after trying it I found the orange flavour to be very subtle with only a hint of the fragrance from the orange zest, juice and a little bit of marmalade. We zested a whole orange using a Microplane zester and that was probably the most fun part of the class. The microplane was a breeze to use and it was so satisfying to see the orange eventually clean of any zest! I could really zest fruits all day with the microplane. The orange character in the cake did not stand out too much, and I think it would be an acceptable taste to the masses. The texture of my chiffon cake turned out to be really smooth, soft and spongy and even when eaten plain it’s nice, but would be better if it could be frosted or topped with whipped cream to serve. I found the cake tasting better the next day with the texture being softer and the flavour of orange stronger too. I did like the cake but the highlight of this recipe is actually the pudding!

Hungry Bird rating: 4/5

August Cake Master – Éclair

 

This Éclairs lesson was one of the Cake Master classes which I was more keen on attending because Éclairs are simply so beautiful. However, this lesson as a lot more simple than I imagined it to be and not really Master standard in my opinion.

Actually this recipe is almost identical to the choux recipe from the old menu. The pastry is basically the same thing, only thing is the shape is into long logs. It is simple in theory but I guess the challenge is how to make the most aesthetically perfect éclairs like the ones sold at expensive cake boutiques. It is easy to make imperfect éclairs of course.

We were given a star tip to pipe out the choux dough which resulted in deep ridges on the éclairs. The ridges will actually help the éclairs rise more evenly and is a good option to take for beginners, compared to using a round piping tip which only an expert can handle without failures. A better option would be to use a French Pastry Tip which will create ridges that are less deep and would flatten out more after baking, but also deliver the benefit of making it rise more evenly compared to using a round tip.

We made 4 types of toppings, 2 pieces each, with 2 types of filling. It’s up to us which ones to fill with which.

We made Crème Pâtissière (aka custard or Pastry Cream) as the base of the filling, and then split the portion into 2. One part was to be mixed with melted chocolate and instant coffee to become Chocolate Pastry Cream, while the other portion is folded with whipped cream to make Crème Diplomat. Both Crème Pâtissière and Crème Diplomat are typical choice of fillings for classic éclairs. I found myself liking the Chocolate Pastry Cream version more than the Crème Diplomat, which was actually way too bland because they did not put any flavouring (no vanilla or rum or anything!) into the mixture.

The 4 toppings were cookie crust, mango fondant, cassis fondant and milk chocolate. For some reason, all the toppings were prepared by the instructor in advance instead of us doing it individually. She did demo how the 3 icings were made (and all participants used it from a communal bowl) but the cookie dough was made before class and we didn’t even get to see the procedure. The recipe did write down steps for the cookie actually so no idea why it’s pre-made for this lesson.

Due to the deep ridges from using a star tip, it required quite a thick layer of icing to create a smooth cover over it. A thick layer of fondant icing wasn’t really ideal for eating because it is excessively sweet. I preferred the cookie crust and chocolate dipped one.

In summary, this class has a simple recipe but it takes experience to get it perfect – something which you probably won’t take home within a lesson. The timing indicated for this recipe was actually 3h but the class actually finished within 2h 15mins including including chilling time. For the price of master lesson, this is probably not the most value added class hence I think it isn’t worthy of being in the Master course. However, if it was in the Basic lesson (at Basic lesson price) I think it would be worth attending.

Hungry Bird rating: 2.5/5

July Bread Basic – Cherry and Berry

 

I chose to do this bread because July is the season for cherries. Firstly, this is one really sweet bread with a lot of sugar and butter involved. Sugar in the dough, the coating, the topping… It’s probably gonna be the sweetest bread ever made at ABC. The filling includes cream cheese mixed with sugar and Grand Marnier (yes alcohol!) which enhances the flavour, and topped with cherry (canned) and berries (fresh) coated in raspberry jam. The alcohol tastes makes it better but I think of they soaked the cherries in rum it’ll work better. I personally found the jam unnecessary (just adds more sweetness and I don’t like using jam)

The shaping of this dough was quite interesting and something I’ve never done before. That’s something nice to learn as it makes a really aesthetically beautiful bread.

The dough was also super soft because it has a lot of butter, sugar and milk – no water. The dough wasn’t the easiest to work with and was really soft all the way, but still manageable. It’s shaped in English muffin rings to bake and I’m glad to find another use for my muffin rings besides making English Muffins.

And personally I think the bread tastes really nice! it’s really sweet so you should enjoy it with the mindset of eating a cake or dessert. I give it 5/5 for aesthetics and probably 3/5 for taste because the bread does dry out quite quickly and there’s no way you can warm this up as there’s toppings involved that can’t be warmed.

It’s also really sweet so not everyone can accept that, but I can and I quite liked the taste. The flavour combination worked well and that touch of Grand Marnier made a lot of difference! Otherwise it will probably be a 2/5.

Hungry Bird rating: 4/5

July Bread Basic – Genovese Sausage

This bread was so much nicer than last month’s Sausage Brunch Braid for sure. The flavours went nicely together! The bread is made this colour due to the addition of tomato juice in lieu of water. The shaping of the bread was interesting and the combination of pesto, sausage and cheese is always no fail.

The missing 0.5 is just because it isn’t very special. It’s within what you’d expect by judging from the looks of it. It’s just a sausage bread.

Hungry Bird rating: 4.5/5

August Bread Basic – Olive and Onion

 

The shaping wasn’t complicated but it needs to be done swiftly with confidence. Hesitating and doing it slowly may lead to pulling the soft dough out of shape.

I ate the ugliest piece on the spot and it’s so delicious! It’s so umami from the green olives, onions and rock salt. I had a “OMG this is the best bread ever” feeling upon tasting it and this will rank high on my favourite bread list!

I think it’s better than the olive rock salt bread from the previous menu. This bread is so delicious I wouldn’t do anything to edit the recipe!

Hungry Bird rating: 5/5

August Bread Basic – Seigle Fruits

I’ve seen a similar bread at Donq so I suppose Seigle does have popularity in Japan, but such breads with dried fruits isn’t typically something I’ll eat. I decided to try this recipe anyway with an open mind! This bread uses rye flour in the dough, something I’ve not worked with before and fillings of cranberries, green raisins and rum soaked raisins. For the shaping, a piece of cream cheese is wrapped within each piece.

After proofing the pattern is created by cutting with scissors and before baking we sprayed water. The water droplets is supposed to make the outside crisp up. I’ve never tried this with any bread before so it was something new!

When sliced up I realised the bread inside is really soft. It wasn’t hard at all like I imagined when I saw Seigle at Donq. The holes in this bread is a lot finer than most other breads I made. It’s more densely packed than the fluffy kind of texture, but it was very soft! I ate some of it at room temperature and the texture was soft and the bread was nice. When warmed up in oven toaster, the crust texture crisped up again and it became really nice. I love the crust!

Honestly I thought I wouldn’t really like this bread but it exceeded my expectations! I would really recommend this recipe if you want to try something new.

Hungry Bird rating: 4.5/5

August Bread Basic – Maple Almond

 

This bread was very basic with nothing inside. The dough is kneaded with maple syrup instead of sugar and you only need to shape it into round balls which is really basic. The action only starts after 2nd proofing where you slather on meringue like mixture of egg whites, maple syrup and almond powderThere’s also orange peel within the mixture. Not a fan of dried fruits here.

This bread looks quite different from the picture on the website, aesthetics wise. They probably use a different size of paper cup for this and honestly I’m quite disappointed but I guess no choice. In the original picture it looks like the rotiboy sort of polobao layer but the actual product isn’t so smooth – it was actually a meringue layer which is so difficult to even out nicely on the bread!

After the layer of meringue almond cream is on,  you need to sprinkle on pearl sugar and almond flakes. Sprinkle is not an exact term here because you actually need to place them on properly or else the pearl sugar just rolls off instead of adhering. This step took quite a while too before I was done and I found the bread over-proofing in the process because it got bigger and bigger.

When its right out of the oven, it’ll look like muffins with a mushroom cap expanding out of the paper cup, which is the main downfall of the aesthetics of this bread. Perhaps a bigger cup is key, like the size used in ABC Hong Kong studios, or perhaps this bread should not expand so much to stay within the size of the cup.

Taste wise, it’s one of the sweetest breads I had so far due to the topping layer; The bread itself is quite bland so all the sweetness is in the toppings. It could be from the maple syrup in the meringue, pearl sugar, the orange peel or the snow powder. Or a combination of everything.

Texture wise, it’s one of the softest breads I’ve made, but this is due to the high amount of yeast which resulted in many big holes. Some soft breads have the pillowy-cotton wool kind of texture whereby it streaks when you tear it apart but not this bread. This one had big holes within it, like a very loose sponge which isn’t that favourable.

Overall this recipe is not really value added and is one recipe which you can easily do on your own by following this recipe. There’s nothing fancy about the shaping and also recipe wise the ingredients used are very normal, nothing much to learn. I must say it’s suitable for beginners though! The bread is yummy but it did not exceed expectations. It did not deliver any surprise at all and basically tastes exactly as how it looks.

Hungry Bird rating: 3.5/5

August Bread Master – Croissant & Chocolat Croissant

I finally took my first Bread Master class – croissant! This is the very bread that got me keen on taking up Bread Master course.

This bread has so many steps, the recipe actually has 3 pages. The main ingredients for croissant is different from the regular – we had to use French cultured butter instead of regular butter. This kind of butter is drier with higher fat content than the usual. It has 84% fat. The flour for this recipe also uses French style bread flour which has higher ash content. They use Tomiz brand baguette flour from Japan. For the chocolate croissant they use stick compound chocolate as filling and that answers why the chocolate in Pain au Chocolat always looks like that! I’ve always wondered why it’s always a rod like chocolate which doesn’t really melt. Turns out a specific kind of chocolate is used.

The croissant the dough method was also very different – It wasn’t sent to the proofer at all! The dough was chilled multiple times between the steps. The final proofing was just table rest for 45mins. After 45mins, we had to apply egg wash and then it’s finally time to bake. This method uses butter within the layers to leaven up the bread (lamination), hence here is no need to depend on proofing by yeast as the main way to puff it up. This is my first time trying lamination method and making Viennoiseries!

Digressing, I watched a video from Tartine bakery (San Francisco) about how they make their legendary croissants (by the way it is truly, THE BEST CROISSANT EVER. I made sure I tried it when I was in San Francisco. I was recovering from food poisoning but still made sure I got to try it and it’s worth the hype! Even better than those I tried in France) and they have this big metal spray can which sprays on the egg wash. Taste wise it did taste really good and this is because good quality butter is being used.

I’ve tried many different levels of croissant and the low level supermarket kind doesn’t even have butter but I already kinda like it. On the other end of the spectrum there’s like Tartine which is so good because of quality ingredients and good technique. For this recipe at ABC of course the technique loses out to Tartine but that’s only expected from a homemade croissant. There’s no complex network of leavened air pockets like you would get from a Tartine croissant. But of course I don’t think anyone would get that in a home made setting for their first attempt.

Before attending this class, I’ve always been intimidated by the idea of making croissants and even after booking this lesson I still thought it was impossible for me. It’s kinda surreal that my dream of ever making croissant has come true! It isn’t as difficult as I imagined but probably more tiring than I could mentally prepare myself for. I don’t think I’ll do this at home anytime soon, until I get air-con in the kitchen, because keeping the butter in tact is very important.

I would say this Croissant master class is indeed worth the hype and is very different an experience from the basic bread lesson experience. Duration is already double of basic so that’s why the price is double too and I see the value in this class.

 Hungry Bird rating: 4.5/5

August Bread Riche – Kinako Walnut 

I finally started doing my first Bread Riche lesson! I chose to do Kinako Walnut, which is a bread with kinako and walnut pieces kneaded into the dough. For this recipe, interestingly shortening is used instead of butter for the choice of fat. Reason being shortening has a more neutral taste so the flavour of kinako and walnut can stand out. The taste of kinako actually varies across different brands so not all gives the same flavour and aroma. It’s best to use good quality kinako.

 

Recipe wise, the riche lesson is not much different from Basic. The only difference is we gotta weigh out the bread flour by ourselves and Japanese Kitanokaori flour is used for all riche lessons. The texture feels finer than typical bread flour and the colour is more yellowish too, almost looking like milk powder to me.

For my lesson it was really easy. The only tricky part is how sticky the dough was! Other than that, there’s nothing much that’s new. All the ingredients are within the dough (kinako and walnut) and the shape is just round buns so all I had to do was to shape them round.

 Hungry Bird rating: 3.5/5

July World Cooking – Savoury and Spicy Sichuan Meal

 

For this meal we’re gonna make:
1. Hot dan dan noodles
2. Cold dan dan noodles
(The picture online only showed 1 bowl of noodles but there’s actually TWO)
3. Dou miao with squid
4. Pan fried dumplings
5. Grapefruit jelly

I was most interested in the dumpling wrapping! But for this recipe the dumpling filling was super basic. The dumplings from the mapo tofu and dumpling class I did in March had better filling. Dumplings in this recipe was merely a side dish so it has very little effort put in. The filling was just pork, (frozen peeled) prawns, chives and seasoning, but at least the wrapping was interesting. It could’ve been much better if better (like fresh prawn) and more (like mushroom/ water chestnuts/ bamboo shoot etc) were used. I also found it to be quite bland. But at least it was juicy due to the method of cooking!

As for the noodles there was a hot and a cold version. We only cook one base of minced pork and basically all the toppings is the same. We just prepare soup of different temperature (the cold one was placed in the chiller) and then assemble in noodles, pork, five spice powder, la-yu and blanched vegetable. The noodles used was dry Shanghai noodles that was boiled for 4 minutes. The meat was stir fried in tian mian jiang which was weird because it’s too sweet. It was barely savoury and nothing like what I would expect from a Sichuan meal. Both soups were white sesame paste based but the cold soup had vinegar in it which stood out quite strong, not really in a good way. It would have been better if the vinegar taste was more pleasant.

Overall both noodles were edible but it doesn’t taste Sichuan style at all. It could’ve been better.

The dessert of grapefruit jelly was a simple one made using packet grapefruit juice, spiked with a little lychee liqueur which was barely detectable unless you think about it. Nothing special at all but good combination with this meal.

Overall I find that this recipe isn’t one of the best because:

  1. Doesn’t taste accurate to what Sichuan food should be like. Japanese-Sichuan restaurants like Chen Mapo /Shisen Hanten has more complex taste of spice too but this noodles tasted flat
  2. The dumpling filling was below average (but I get it that it’s all about learning the shaping here and I had fun with that)
  3. Lots of instant ingredients used – garlic paste instead of fresh garlic, chicken stock powder in many dishes, frozen peeled prawns, carton juice
  4. No expensive ingredients used in this meal – I’m usually not calculative but if the meal tastes average but at least expensive ingredients went in (truffle oil, sashimi etc) you at least feel better? This recipe used mostly cheap ingredients only – they didn’t even give us fresh prawns!

So overall I’d give this a 3/5 only because I like this combination of a meal and a hot and cold soup is a refreshing idea, but the recipe has a lot of room for improvement.

Hungry Bird rating: 3/5

July Best Selection Cooking – All-purpose Sauce in Variety of Japanese Set Meal

 

For this recipe they make a all purpose sauce to be used it in the main dish, miso soup and the side dish. Usually the instruction page on the recipe sheet would be full of text and illustration but the steps for this recipe is unusually few! And in fact the food prep for this lesson was indeed very simple and fast! However the time consuming part of this lesson was the actual cooking time. The stir frying of the main dish took quite long.

For the main dish we had to stir fry the vegetables first, put it aside, and then shallow fry the chicken thigh pieces.The chicken thigh pieces were marinated in the all purpose sauce and then coated with potato starch before shallow frying. The frying of chicken till crispy took quite long. After the chicken was cooked, we mixed the vegetables back into the wok and added the all purpose sauce again for the final mix.

The side dish was something like agedashi tofu except that the sauce would not be the typical dashi based sauce. I’ve never tried or seen how agedashi tofu is made actually and surprisingly it was quite easy. It made no explosive action or sound when lowered into the hot oil! They used firm pressed tofu here which was easy to handle but I’m sure the original version would be silken tofu because this one didn’t really taste as soft as the usual. It was coated with potato starch, fried and topped with grated daikon, mentaiko and shiso and served with the all purpose sauce. I felt that the tofu was too firm to be considered nice and I would prefer silken tofu if I could choose and I felt that the sauce didn’t really go well with it.

For dessert we make a trifle using Japanese castella cake, whipped cream and blueberry jam which was just assembly work and no baking involved.

So you might be wondering what is this “all purpose sauce”?

Well it’s a sauce based off sake, chicken stock powder (no dashi here surprise surprise!) and ginger.

Ginger and Chinese herbal taste is not my kind of flavour. That’s why most Chinese food isn’t my thing. But thankfully the ginger flavour was mellow in most parts of this meal and I actually enjoyed eating the whole meal. It was a very Chinese style like Japanese meal I’d say! I wouldn’t say I am a fan of this sauce though. I felt that it wasn’t particularly memorable and hence this recipe isn’t one which I would highly recommend if you’re very selective about your cooking classes.

 Hungry Bird rating: 3.5/5

August World Cooking – Indian Curry for Summer

I was aiming to do this cooking lesson since last year! It’s a World Cooking recipe so it’s offered at all 3 studios. It is supposed to be Indian cuisine but at ABC, everything is Japanese influenced even in the world cooking course, and everything is optimised to be doable in a home kitchen. The method used in this cooking is of course different from traditional style Indian cooking and also the flavour will be more like Muji style Indian curry rather than what you really eat at Indian restaurants.

Handmade naan is part of this menu but instead of baking it in a clay tandoor oven, we pan fried it, which is of course adapted to a home cooking environment.

For the curry, we make one base sauce with mainly onions and Japanese S&B Curry Powder (this is what makes it Muji style), and split it into 3 to make 3 variants – spinach curry, keema curry and butter chicken. Pan seared chicken thigh was the meat inside the spinach curry and butter chicken, while minced chicken was used for the keema. It is interesting how the method of cooking the chicken is actually the same as the Teriyaki Chicken cooking class in May, just that the sauce for this recipe is totally different. I like how the basic cooking techniques taught by ABC is transferable across their recipes. I can’t pin point which one I enjoyed the most because I liked having a variety of 3 to alternate within my meal.

We also made a side salad of blanched ladyfinger and  raw capsicum and zucchini, paired with a spicy edamame yogurt dip which was also nice! It’s something different from the usual mint (which I also like).

The dessert was a coconut milk mousse pudding with mango topping and it was delicious too.

Overall this meal was great! It’s not really like those I eat at North Indian restaurants and they used Thai jasmine rice instead of basmati rice, but I can overlook that. I basically polished everything from this meal clean. It’s one of my favourite cooking classes so far!

 Hungry Bird rating: 5/5

August Whole-Meal Cooking – Improve Body Circulation~ Basic Yakuzen

This is my very first Whole Meal Cooking class, which is now offered at 2 studios – Westgate and Funan, and the short story is – I didn’t really enjoy it.

I find that this recipe wasn’t very tasty and I understand that it is probably meant to be healthy as a priority, with taste taking the back seat, but overall the fact is – the flavours weren’t as good as the normal cooking course recipes.

Every recipe in the Whole Meal Cooking course has a theme, and the theme for this lesson is “Improve Body Circulation~ Basic Yakuzen”. Yakuzen is based off TCM and, where they believe certain types of food delivers certain health effects, and in this recipe they are using yakuzen theory to improve body circulation.

According to Yakuzen beliefs, black ingredients is a key in achieving better body circulation and in this recipe they included many black ingredients such as black tea (in the chashu sauce), black (brown) sugar, black vinegar, black fungus, black sesame and black beans in the rice.

We were to make chashu as the main, sour spicy soup, dumpling, some spicy sauce and jelly for dessert.

The most fun part of this class was rolling up the pork belly and tying it up to make chashu (Japanese style rolled pork belly, which was adapted from Chinese Char Siew) and the meat was cooked in a pressure cooker pot on the stove, typical of Japanese chashu.

Despite the char siew being cooked the Japanese way, it was basically a Chinese meal and what they did not state in the menu description is that this chashu was actually cooked with the Chinese herb Dang Gui which resulted in the meat being very Chinese tasting, tasting herbal. I personally don’t like herbal stuff and if I had known, I probably wouldn’t choose this recipe.

Dumpling was decent but most dumplings can’t go wrong anyway. The interesting addition was Tang-O within the filling. We also had to make a chilli oil to go with the dumplings, but I didn’t quite get what the sauce was supposed to taste like – it had too much turmeric.

Dessert was jelly with gooseberry (aka golden berry) and canned apricot. I think it would be better without the canned fruit. The gooseberry was featured as a super food in this recipe.

The only thing which I actually found tasty was the rice – even on it’s own. It was simply white Japanese rice cooked with black beans which had a subtle taste.

I get that this whole meal cooking course prioritizes healthy cooking over actual taste but this kind of cooking is just not my style. I didn’t like the main pork because the herbal taste ruined it and the portion was huge. The turmeric chill oil was weird (but edible)- basically I won’t miss this taste. The whole menu was just designed to be healthy, rather than tasty. The soup, dumplings and dessert was just average at best.

I do think this recipe has potential to taste much better if they do away with the supposed health benefits. If they choose ingredients based on taste rather than to have “body circulation” ingredients in mind they could do away with the Dang Gui, turmeric etc and it will really taste a lot better. But I get that this Whole Meal Cooking course’s primary objective is to teach meals with health benefits and that’s the main point why people will book this class.

Only after attending it then I fully understood what it entails and it doesn’t prioritize taste in first line of priority.

Hungry Bird rating: 2/5

August Best Selection Cooking – Handmade Bun with 3 Types of Sliders

This cooking lesson was pretty popular and difficult to book but thankfully I managed to get a slot eventually! I am glad I attended because I do think it’s quite possible to make this at home and I really like some of the items from this recipe.

On the menu we have:

  • Handmade Bun with 3 types of Sliders
    • Cod Fish Fillet
    • Bacon Hamburger
    • Cheeseburger
  • Potato Wedges
  • Mugi Barley Minestrone
  • Raspberry Yogurt Smoothie

For this meal we would be hand making mini buns for sliders, aka mini burgers. The recipe has actually a lot fewer steps than most of the other cooking classes but making the bun would take time, especially for those unfamiliar with bread making. I handled the dough pretty easily because of experience in bread classes, but if you’re unfamiliar with bread making it will take a lot longer.

The making of the beef patties were pretty simple, with just minced beef and chopped beef short ribs. Compared to the burger trial class from June, the patty was at least less compact.

My favourite slider however, is the cod fish fillet! Using cod is such a luxurious choice but a lot better than dory or other white fish. The cod was dipped in a batter and then into bread crumbs, giving it the best of both worlds if you can’t decide whether you prefer breaded or battered.

The side of potato wedges was russet potatoes cut with skin on and then deep fried twice. The same oil was reused for frying the fish.

The mugi barley minestrone soup was nothing worth mentioning, and the only let down of this menu. Even canned minestrone tasted better, but I guess this is just a simple fix and not the main focus here.

Instead of dessert, our sweet item for this meal was a raspberry smoothie which was a good match because milk shake is what completes a burger and fries meal isn’t it? This smoothie is not as rich as a milkshake because we used yogurt, not ice cream, but it’s a a nice complement!

Hungry Bird rating: 4/5

July Wagashi – Nerikiri

So for this class we’re just making chrysanthemum shape nerikiri. It is one of the most popular Wagashi lessons because it is beautiful. I actually attended Wagashi lesson in Japan which teaches this shaping of chrysanthemum nerikiri, and it is almost the same thing but with slight difference.

The difficulty/ time consuming part of this class is actually just:

1. Deciding what colour – we only make 2 types, so we could choose 2 colours
2. Kneading in the colour

Shaping the thing actually isn’t hard at all. In fact, the Yoshino & Yamabuki Nerikiri in September/ March and the Kinton-igaguri & Satsumaimo in October/ April is more difficult to shape in my opinion.

For this lesson we also don’t make the white bean paste from powder. We use ready made ones (either store bought packet or cooked from powder by the staff) so this class is really all about play-doh.

We made 2 designs -「寒菊」and 「着せ綿」.

The design of the pink one represents 寒菊, while the design of the orange nerikiri represents chrysanthemum during “菊の着せ綿 kiku no kisewata” festival on 9th September 重陽, where a a piece cotton wool is placed on top of a chrysanthemum flower overnight on the night of 8th September to collect the essence of the chrysanthemum via the morning dew the next morning, on the cotton wool. The cotton wool is then wiped all over your body for longevity and health.

This wagashi is very sweet and is best paired with matcha. The bitter matcha balances out the sweetness. It may not be the most interesting tasting wagashi, because it is essentially just bean paste, but the value of the lesson lies in learning the shaping and the use of the traditional wooden nerkiri shaping tool which you would only see in Japan otherwise.

Hungry Bird rating: 4/5

August Wagashi – Kingyoku and Minazuki 錦玉&水無月

This is my final Wagashi class of the current 12 Wagashi menu! I started on Wagashi exactly a year back and have been coming for classes once a month, choosing the wagashi based on the current season.

Kingyoku and Minazuki (錦玉&水無月) are both summer wagashi, typically eaten cold in summer.

Kingyoku 錦玉 is a agar or kanten jelly-like wagashi. It can be made into really intricate designs but for summer, it is commonly designed to look like scenery – either coloured to look like sky, ground or water. Another common design for summer kingyoku is that of goldfish in a pond, where the fish is made of white bean paste and with beans to represent pebbles, while the agar is tinted blue to represent water.

For this class we are making koi in pond design. To make the koi design, we had to make a marbled colour design in the white bean paste and then shape it into tiny fishes. Some beans are used to represent pebbles.

The agar is then boiled and sweetened, and while it cools off, umeshu is added, so this jelly essentially tastes subtly of plum wine. That’s the only flavour it has.

When the agar mixture is slightly slightly, we then pour it into the cups over the koi fish. Blue colour is then added to only the surface of the agar for ombré effect. Even though making an agar based jelly is very easy and probably something everyone knows how to do on their own, making the cute design of a koi fish pond is something new and this is the sole reason to make this lesson worth it.

As for Minazuki 水無月, it is a wagashi made flour and rice (uiro ういろう) and typically topped with adzuki beans to be steamed to cook and then chilled before being eaten cold, originating from Heian era in Kyoto. It’s only eaten in summer, especially on 30th June as a means of purifying yourself of bad things in the middle of the year.

The design of this wagashi is meant to resemble ice. In the past, ice is a luxury in summer and commoners would have no access to eating ice thus, they resort to eating minazuki instead. Therefore the bottom layer of uiro is typically white (to look like ice). Nowadays there’s many other variants like matcha flavour in uiro or use of kanoko beans instead of adzuki. The minazuki made in this class was 2 rectangles, which was cut into 8 triangles. Minazuki is always traditionally cut into triangles to look like a sharp pieces of ice.

For our recipe, it actually said to use kanoko beans but we were given mixed salad beans instead which is a bad substitute because such beans are hard, dry and tasteless. Actual kanoko beans (candied beans) would be better because they are soft and sweet and it looks prettier too. Otherwise I would think it’s better to use the traditional option of adzuki beans instead! I had to peel off the beans when eating the Minazuki because they were really not nice.

Hungry Bird rating: 3/5


One Day Lesson

It’s been a long time since I last attended a One Day Lesson! With the opening of Funan studio, they launched a few One Day Lessons like Tofu Making, Coffee pairing with cat tongue cookie, as well as seasonal one day lesson like Mooncake for Mid Autumn Festival and Chicken Rendang for National Day & Hari Raya.

Chicken Rendang

  

This class is open to non members too, but at a higher price. For members it is $88 which is actually slightly cheaper than the regular cooking class which would be $91.

I love rendang (and Indonesian food) so I was really interested in this! Rendang originates from Indonesia.

The rendang doesn’t adhere to traditional cooking method which could take a whole day, but they improvised this recipe to be doable within 2 hours, including all the side dishes. I’m happy to say that the final taste of it does taste pretty much like how I like my rendang to be despite the easier cooking!

Another interesting part of this recipe is how we steam the rice in banana leaf! I’ve never cooked rice this way before. The spices and banana leaf did impart subtle flavour to the steamed rice which was nice.

There’s also a side dish soup called Lodeh Veges which is curry vegetables but served like a soup and it is something I’m unfamiliar with and is on the sweet side. I can’t really give a good judgement because I don’t know what the original should taste like.

The drink in the background is a Assam Lime juice. It’s kinda too sweet for me but is a refreshing match with the rendang.

Hungry Bird rating: 3.5/5


Trial Lessons

July Seasonal Trial – TOFUlly Chewy Bun

This recipe has tofu kneaded into the bread dough. The shaping for this bread was super easy, almost nothing much to learn. It’s simply making rounds of dough. The fancy part about this bread lies in the decoration / filling.

The tofu taste blended into the background and I can’t make out the flavour, which is good. They use cane sugar (Kibisato) instead of white sugar for this so maybe that improved the flavour and texture too. The bun itself was delicious already. I love the bouncy texture which is very unlike the normal soft fluffy breads we make at trial lessons! The texture was a lot denser. When kneading this dough I did experience a lot of resistance too.

After baking, the bread is cut open and filled with white bean paste mixed with yuzu jam (I’m not a fan of Korean yuzu jam. For Yuzu flavour I prefer that of real Yuzu zest). We had 3 types of toppings, 2 of each bun. On the matcha sprinkled bun is black beans (honestly I can’t make out any distinct taste of it) and on the snow powder sprinkled buns are candied chestnuts (yellow) and marron glace. I found the white bean paste filling was kinda unnecessary and only served to add sweetness.

 Hungry Bird rating: 3.5/5

July Seasonal Trial – Berry Ooh-lava Cheesecake

The cake is basically a no-bake cheesecake and the entire thing is just frozen to set. They added frozen berry puree inside which will become a lava like texture when thawed in the center. The top was a layer of clear gelatin jelly and we placed sakura flowers inside. They also gave us dry rose buds (like rose tea) to decorate. This cake was one of the easiest to make among all trial lesson recipes, with barely any challenging steps, but no-bake cheesecake is typically like that – it’s not as if they used shortcut method to make it simple.

 Hungry Bird rating: 3.5/5

July Funan Trial – Hanjuku Cheesecake

Japanese Hanjuku Cheesecake was offered in the new Funan studio for the month of July, but this recipe is actually permanent in ABC Hong Kong and China. However, this cheesecake recipe is slightly different from Hong Kong and China’s Japanese cheesecake trial recipes – The proportion of cake flour and corn flour is different. They said it’s because of the different texture of cream cheese available – denser cream cheese should use more cake flour.

The taste of this one was good but texture was still not perfect. Japanese Cheesecakes is notoriously difficult to get right – the process may be easy but usually it takes many (like 20 or more) attempts to figure out the perfect modifications to get it right. Otherwise there may be imperfections to the cake which is what happened to mine. Even changing a brand of cheese can affect the final results.

I’ve seen the cakes done at Hong Kong or China studios and those indeed looks so perfect, probably because the recipes there have been perfected based on their respective ingredients and equipment used.

 Hungry Bird rating: 4/5

July Funan Trial – Nikujaga

Nikujaga 肉じゃが is a very typical Japanese home cooking dish, usually the comfort food of many. It is sort of like a stew filled with root vegetables and meat and would be perfect for cold winter days.

This cooking trial had very simple ingredients but I liked how it covers the basic cutting techniques and introduces the staple Japanese ingredients.

In Japanese cooking, they actually have names (yes names, not just descriptions) for all their cutting techniques and there’s a good reason behind why they choose a certain cut for certain ingredient. It could be practical reasons which helps in the cooking but also it improves the aesthetics of the dish and that is why Japanese cooking always looks so presentable.

The carrots and poatoes were cut in Rangiri (乱切り) – “Random Shape” Cut, which is literally random shapes but of around the same size for each piece, because the increase in surface area allows ingredients to cook evenly in less time, and absorb more flavor. The onions were cut in Kushigatagiri (くし形切り) – “Comb Shape” Cut.

This meal uses mirin, sake, dashi, bonito flakes and miso – basically all the ingredients quintessentially present in traditional Japanese cooking. It makes a really good trial lesson because we also get a crash introduction to all these.

For the cooking technique, the Otoshibuta (Drop Lid) 落し蓋の作り方 method for cooking was also introduced in this class. The instructor went through the whole logic behind using it and all and now I’m sold because it really makes a difference! We were taught on how to create a drop lid from baking paper, which anyone can do at home, but I’ve purchased a reusable one from Daiso.

Overall, I like the taste of the Nikujaga. The pork wasn’t smelly and it was really tender. It’s easy to prepare and doesn’t take too long to cook so I probably will make this again at home!

 Hungry Bird rating: 5/5

July Funan Trial – Ham Cheese & Café Mocha Swirl

This bread is the seasonal trial in the new Funan Studio for the opening month of July. The bread is basically the same as the regular bread trial lesson at Taka and Westgate but with slightly different toppings.

For the sweet bun, the regular trial recipe uses cinnamon powder with sugar and rum soaked raisins. For this new variant, instant coffee powder with sugar was spread all over and chocolate chips was scattered instead.

As for the ham cheese bread, it is basically the same with cheese replacing mayo.

The ham cheese bread was nice but basically just ham and cheese. It’s almost the same as the regular trial ham and mayo bread.

The café mocha swirl however, was completely different! The usual cinnamon roll was very basic and boring – it’s not like the classic kind of rich cinnamon roll with glaze but it’s just like a basic bun with some cinnamon and raisins. I never really liked that one and always preferred the savoury one when I did that recipe. This café mocha swirl however was aromatic from the coffee and rich from the chocolate chips. The nuts on top gave a slight crunch which contrasted well with the fluffy soft bread dough.

 Hungry Bird rating: 4.5/5

August Seasonal Trial – Royal Roulade

 

I’ve seen this cake trial offered in Malaysia and Taiwan and I was really happy when we finally got this in Singapore too! It is a Earl Grey tea roll cake filled with cream cheese mixed with whipped cream and strawberry liqueur, which gave it a sweet shade of pink, and strawberry syrup soaked peaches.

I’m personally not a fan of canned peach or canned fruits in general. It all tastes so preserved. I would use fresh strawberries if I could choose because strawberry and earl grey tea is a good match

This cake batter was a bit different from the usual. It’s not like a sponge cake where the whole egg is beaten, and also not like a chiffon cake where the whites and yolk is folded in to mix. For this one we beat the meringue to a soft peak only and then add in egg yolks and mix it in with the beaters, before adding in all the dry ingredients and liquid.

I’ve never done a cake this way before and the result is a denser cake that is easy to roll up without cracking!

This is one of my favourite trial lesson cakes so far and it is a lot better than many others because you get to learn various techniques and the cake tastes great.

Hungry Bird rating: 5/5


Overseas Lesson

July Cake Basic (China) – Gateau Weekend Citron 

Booking classes in ABC China is a breeze because the customer service is super responsive. Shenzhen’s studio is located in Mixc World, near Hi Tech Park station. This is easily accessible via the metro from Futian station, where we got to from Hong Kong via the High Speed Rail.  The studio has 11 tables, bigger than Westgate and Funan!

This mall is located in Nanshan area where the offices and CBD is. Therefore morning classes at ABC here are not packed because people will need to squeeze in the rush hour traffic to get here and I had a solo class in the end! They said afternoon is way more popular. My class happened to be 10:15am. They do intend to open one more in Shenzhen which will be nearer to the residential area.

I initially wanted to visit China in June to attend another lesson at ABC Cooking but due to changes in my travel dates, I only got here in July. From the options on the July menu, I chose to learn this 柠檬黄油小方 because we don’t have this in Singapore at the current moment. It used to be offered here way before I even joined as a member. However, this recipe turned out much nicer than I had imagined and I was so happy to attend this!

It’s kinda like a pound cake but not really. It uses browned butter and overall less butter than flour and sugar so it’s not really a pound cake! Before you think I only made 3 pieces (I thought so too, looking at the recipe’s picture), I actually had 6 of these! And they provided a pink box for the cake! It’s similar to the one from Taiwan.

My friend did cooking lesson here today and for cooking classes in ABC China it is entirely individual work. They have 4 inductions and 4 frying pans and everyone cooks their own portion. Even the sides and desserts are individually made. For the prep work, the instructor splits the vegetable into 4 for them to cut their own pieces! Only rice is mass cooked in a rice cooker. I really wish ABC in Singapore could be like this! The cooking lesson will be way more popular if we could adopt this method. They also provided box for takeaway!

Cloth aprons are provided here (no guilt for wastage of disposable apron) and so is dish washing service. Overall their service is one of the better ABC studios I’ve been to. And they give pink boxes for cake lessons too!

 Hungry Bird rating: 5/5

July Cake Basic (Hong Kong) – Tartelette au The

For my ABC Passport class in Hong Kong, I chose to do it at Taikoo Cityplaza outlet. I like how Taikoo Cityplaza mall is fully connected to Taikoo MTR station so there’s totally no exposure to the outside climate at all which is ideal for summer months. The Central PMQ studio will require walking a distance from MTR in the open and PMQ is not an enclosed mall either. I don’t like that. The other studio at Tsim Sha Tsui K11 did not have ideal time slot.

Taikoo Cityplaza is the biggest studio in Hong Kong with 13 tables. That’s bigger the Westgate and Funan but smaller than Takashimaya, which is basically already unusually big compared to other countries’ ABC Studios.

I booked Tartelette au Thé which is a recipe from the first generation Cake Basic menu in ABC Singapore. This was before I joined so at least I get to attend it overseas!

The tart is a pâte sucrée base and has filling of orange peel. It is then filled with earl grey almond cream and chopped almonds. The teacher prompted us to take a picture before baking it. During the lesson, the teacher here actually asked us to take photos at various steps. What a difference in studio policies.

This tart base is actually the same tart pastry used in many of the ABC cooking recipes, such as the Apple Tart from the previous menu.

By the time I got to try it, on the next day, the base was kinda soft, like I can easily dig it out with my fingernail, like a soft subway cookie texture. I guess this is bound to happen because the tart wasn’t blind baked. It was baked 1 time only with the almond cream filling!

This means that when just out of the oven, the outside is quite crisped up but the inside – the surface in contact with the filling could still be moist. Over time diffusion of moisture happens and it’ll turn soft which I only realised in retrospect. I should’ve eaten some on the first day to know exactly how much it’ll change!

But anyway it’s still nice. Not my favourite recipe (or rather this kind of tart flavour is not my favourite) but I’m happy to learn something different!

 Hungry Bird rating: 4.5/5

July Bread Basic (Indonesia) – Maccha Sesame

ABC in Indonesia gave me a good reason to travel here for a weekend getaway! I’ve visited Jakarta once before and I enjoyed this place more than I thought I would because I realised that I really like Indonesian food. Coming here for ABC Cooking is a great reason to book another trip!

Indonesia studios are relatively new, only opening last year. They opened 2 in quick succession, first one at the upscale mall Senayan City and subsequently at the new Central Park.

Booking of class was easy – they gave us a temporary account to book class ourselves. The classes are not full until probably a week prior, people start booking. This class I booked with my friend only had both of us until the very day before where 2 more people booked in.

There are 16 tables here, finally a studio as big as Takashimaya’s! But apparently the Saturday 7:30pm slot is unpopular and our bread class was the only regular class ongoing. One other table was doing a trial class. 7:30pm on most other days are really empty too with many classes 0% booked especially at their second studio, from what I noticed in the booking system. And there’s only 1 bread class per time slot per day (4 slots a day) so it’s not as if they scheduled in too many classes. In Singapore we have as many as 12 slots of bread classes going on in a day!

I chose to do Sesame Maccha bread which was actually offered in Singapore too, in the very first bread menu, before I even joined ABC (almost all classes I took overseas with Passport used to be offered in Singapore!). Among all breads offered in Indonesia, this was the only one that was different from the 2017-2019 Singapore bread basic! They have this instead of Matcha Daifuku.

The bread was kneaded with matcha and had a filling of black sesame ground almond paste. To finish off, we poured matcha icing on top, which was probably the most challenging part of this bread. Unfortunately, the icing sugar topping on my bread dissolved badly overnight so I had to angle my photos strategically.

It’s quite yummy though! Texture when fresh out of the oven was pillow-y soft. Overnight it became like normal bread. Matcha lovers will like this.

 Hungry Bird rating: 4/5


Home Baking

Choux

This recipe is actually fairly simple and quick and I didn’t take more than 2h to complete everything including cleaning up and assembling, but my choux isn’t perfect, but I think it’ll get better with more practice! I got the filling done right though – chocolate pastry cream and vanilla creme diplomat.

Gateau Weekend Citron

This recipe was offered in the first generation of Cake Basic at ABC Cooking Singapore, but that was before I joined the studio, so I attended this class in ABC Cooking China as written above in this post. Although it looks simple, it actually turned out better than I expected hence I was craving to have it again and so I decided to make it. It wasn’t as easy as I thought and my first batch failed. My second attempt was better but still did not have 100% the same texture and taste as compared to the one I did in China. But still, it is really delicious and I really like this recipe!

Strawberry Cranberry Bread

This bread is really easy to make, because the ingredients are kneaded into the dough. But the challenge is scoring the bread to make the design. I still need more practice with my scoring. I changed the recipe a little, using milk instead of skim milk powder and water, and I actually omitted the dried strawberries and used entirely cranberries instead. It turned out just as good!


ABC Cooking Seasonal Trial Classes – September

Only at Funan, they have Bread trial of Smoked Salmon and Edamame pizza!

At Takashimaya and Westgate, they have a Cake trial of Rocher in the Woods, a log shape cake with chocolate, hazelnuts and caramel.

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 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 
Singapore 238873

3 Gateway Drive, #03-01
Westgate
Singapore 608532

107 North Bridge Road, #02-29
Funan Mall
Singapore 179105

 

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