ABC Cooking Studio Singapore – Part 20

It’s 2021 now and within the first few weeks of the year, ABC Cooking organized the License seminar for members interested in pursuing Master level course or obtaining the ABC License. Attractive discounts were offered to attendees of the session and I decided it was the right time to get both Cake and Bread ABC License.

I completed both Bread and Cake master courses in September and December 2020 respectively. With the ABC License, I can access all the past and present recipes as well a a detailed video which is very useful because my memory of the steps of earlier classes is indeed quite hazy, since some of these lessons I attended dated back to 2017 when I first joined.

Also I missed out on the entire Cake and Bread basic and Cake Master first generation recipes which was phased out in 2017 before I joined. I was feeling the FOMO of not being able to learn these recipes and even looked out for overseas studios which offered them and actually took a couple of these with my ABC Passport overseas! Examples are Gateau Weekend Citron (China), Tartlettes au The (Hong Kong), Florentines (Malaysia) and Matcha Sesame (Indonesia).

I actually made plans to travel to Taiwan, Hong Kong and Thailand attend more past season recipes which were currently offered in these countries but when the travel ban happened, I had to forgo these plans. In a way, having the License would subdue my desire to travel (when we all can’t) and it also saves money in the long run because travelling to so many places will add up in cost!


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

January Cake Basic – Double Cheesecake

When this cake was first offered in Japan as a seasonal regular lesson, I was really excited because it looks like the Double Fromage from LeTAO which I love, but I was also sad that I couldn’t attend it in Japan because it was not in my travel plans and it was only offered for one month. Subsequently, ABC Korea had this recipe in their Cake Basic renewal and that made me want to visit Korea. It was the final destination on my ABC Passport as well and it also motivated me to travel. I was glad I did that trip because it was the last long trip before all travel halted and that trip was an enjoyable one, reversing some negative impressions I had of Korea from my first visit the year before.

However, the recipe and class in Korea was entirely in Korean, which I do not understand a word of. So when this recipe came to ABC Singapore, I just had to attend it again for better understanding! No regrets because it was utterly delicious. The kind of cream cheese and cream used for this recipe is from Liberty Lane and Elle & Vire and that made the cake taste very nice.

The bottommost chocolate sponge was provided and had a baked cheesecake layer baked over the sponge. After that part has cooled, we placed it in a mousse cake ring with acetate and topped the baked layer with non-baked mascarpone cheesecake which was set in the freezer.

The cake was then frosted and coated with cake soboro. What was missing from the ABC Korean version was the piping of whipped cream on top, which wasn’t as easy as it looks to make look cute. I still really enjoyed this class despite doing it before in Korea and once at home. This time it felt less intimidating somehow! Different flavours can also be created from this recipe such as matcha, chocolate or whatever LeTAO offers seasonally.

Hungry Bird rating: 5/5

February Cake Basic – Fraiser

Firstly, I’ll address that I know my cake looks very different from the product picture advertised. This is because the size of the acetate used was shorter and the width of the cake mould was also different. As I have ABC License access, I viewed the video of the original method from Japan and indeed, the size used in ABC Singapore was off. This makes the cake look shorter and not as beautiful. The topping also had a dark bluish red colour which was not so nice, because of the kind of strawberry syrup added. The kind of glaze used in the original recipe was made of an entirely different recipe.

I think I might like the cake better if the original proportions and ingredients was used! But anyway this lesson is a non-baking class where the sponge was already made for us. The focus of this class was to make the custard cream which is infused with real vanilla pod and learning how to assemble it up. The entire cake was like a custard mousse cake. There has been polar opposite reviews of this cake. If you do not enjoy rich and heavy flavours and textures, this might not be a cake you’d enjoy. But if you like things rich, sweet and eggy, you may love it.

Hungry Bird rating: 3.5/5

January Cake Virtual – Lychee and Framboise Mille-Crêpe

I have prior experience attending 2 other mille-crêpe so making mille-crêpes isn’t  foreign to me. However this recipe was different because we trim the ends to make it a clean cut. The taste was alright but I think it could be better if better kind of lychee puree was used, as the brand they provided us was kind of too sweet. I think this is not an easy recipe to deliver via virtual because many areas could go wrong and physical guidance would be better.

Hungry Bird rating: 3.5/5

January Bread Master – Pain Rustique ~Pancetta Rucola & Praline Marron~

Bread Master course is finally renewed at ABC Singapore! The previous Bread Master has been there since the beginning and in fact, in Japan it remained for 9 years or something. 

The first recipe I attended from the brand new menu was this no-kneading bread. I certianly didn’t know what to expect from it but I was in for a pleasant surprise because it had texture and flavour which was new and delicious to me!

From the same dough we made 2 flavours – savoury containing rocket leaves and pancetta (something like a cold cut like bacon, which is supposed to be used in some beef stews or carbonara) while sweet has maron glaces and caramelized pecans. I usually get more impressed with savoury breads but the sweet one really stood out this time! When eaten fresh, it was really nice with crunchy texture outside and still soft inside.

However, when it has cooled, no kind of reheating can restore the same texture and the bread becomes chewy and tough to bite. It is best eaten immediately and my rating would be based on the best consumed condition.

Hungry Bird rating: 4.5/5

January Bread Master – Kouign-Amann

To be honest, I would not reach out to Kouign-Amann when picking up bread and pastries. The only one I have tried was from Gontran Cherrier in Paris and I found it overly sweet. However, this version at ABC has changed my impression of Kouign-Amann!

Usually laminated doughs needs days to prepare but at ABC they have shortened the process to 2.5-3hrs. For this new round of Bread Master, all recipes are quicker because we use instant or frozen dry yeast which proofs at the usual timing and temperature rather than the previous Shirakami Kodama yeast which requires longer proofing. The method of folding the laminated though was also different and required less resting in between. The final product has a lot of sugar but it was really flaky and delicious! The leftover scraps was also cut into small pieces and baked in cups, with maple syrup drizzled over and actually I found that part even more delicious than the main product.

Hungry Bird rating: 5/5

February Bread Master – Chocolate Babka

Among all the new Master course recipes, Babka was the one I was most excited about because it’s a popular bread in New York! I love New York, but I also know the origins of Babka comes from Poland. This is a rich chocolaty loaf, traditionally always baked in pairs. However, the proportions here looks a bit off because the mould used at ABC Singapore was not like the original. Originally they used 2 pound cake moulds but here we are using 2 bread loaf tins. They did increase the volume of the dough for us (while chocolate fillings remains the same) but it still isn’t enough to fully fill both tins, hence the short-ish height.

This bread was very delicious and I couldn’t stop eating it! Among all the chocolate loaves from ABC – Chocolate Marble from 2015-2019 Basic and Chocolate Loaf from Riche course, this Chocolate Babka was the richest of them all as we fill it with ganache and not just chocolate chips or coverture. It is a must try for chocolate lovers!

Hungry Bird rating: 5/5

February Bread Master – Croissant

Croissants are my favourite. I took croissant from the old menu as my very first Bread Master class the very day after I completed my 24 Bread Basic classes back in 2019. I remember that class being intimidating and nerve wrecking because I felt like a lost sheep and was lagging behind in most of the steps. Master level classes are faster paced due to higher skill level of participants, so I’d say Croissant isn’t a good idea for the first class. Croissant making is similar to kouign-amann where we laminate dough with butter and have to work fast to make sure the butter doesn’t melt.

However, I felt this recipe seems easier and now I’m not so adverse to ever making croissants at home myself in future. The croissant also looks flakier and fatter on the outside than the old recipe and I think it is better overall!

Hungry Bird rating: 5/5

March Bread Master – Rice Flour and Wasanbon Shokupan

Isn’t this loaf of bread the cutest? In the old Bread Master we learnt Yudane Shokupan in the shape of Yama Shoku, where the dough was split into 3 rounds. This time, the shape was just one piece and it was allowed to grow out of the mould to have a cute muffin top. It looks pretty much like a cartoon bread emoji! Other than the new shape, what’s unique about this bread is that it has Joshinko (Japanese Rice Flour) in the dough. Joshinko was used to make Yudane, instead of bread flour, and instead of regular Kohakuto (Japanese White Sugar), we used Wasanbon. These new ingredients gives the bread a subtle Japanese flavour profile overall. The bread texture was very soft and it was a good plain loaf. Compared to the old bread master recipe, I’ll say the old recipe has better taste and texture, but this new recipe has better aesthetics.

Hungry Bird rating: 5/5

March Bread Master – Fruity 50

So far I’ve been loving most of the new bread master breads I’ve tried but this bread here falls short for me. It was supposed to look like a pseudo sourdough bread, with 50% of the volume being dried fruits and nuts. We added sourdough powder to make it pseudo sourdough but I found that it did nothing obvious for this bread. The bread was just like normal fruit bread flavour which I do not like in the first place. The texture was also rather dense and not really crispy on the outside. The only quite interesting part was the scoring of the bread.

Hungry Bird rating: 3/5

January Bread Riche – Fraise Fromage

The official picture of this recipe looked cute and beautiful but I must say the actual product I made got me a little disappointed because the dried strawberries were maroon instead of bright red. Aesthetics aside, this bread was quite soft and special because it has cream cheese kneaded into the dough. You can’t really tell the cheese flavour but it just has a subtle fragrance to it. I am not a fan of dried fruit bread but this is one of the better ones.

Hungry Bird rating: 4.5/5

February Bread Riche – Spinach Corn Cheese

This bread looks like the Pain Rustique from January’s Bread Master class but it is actually totally different. The dough was like normal white bread dough but it actually had comsomme powder kneaded into it for a savoury flavour. The fillings consisted of fresh spinach leaves, corn kernels and cheese. It is the kind of bread that can serve as a satiating meal.

Hungry Bird rating: 4/5

March Bread Riche – Rice Sesame

The final bread Riche class I have from the March/ July/ November cycle is Rice Sesame. Clearly I left this for the last because it was the one I was most disinterested in. This bread has black sesame and Joshinko kneaded into the dough for some fragrance. It was quite a plain bread overall and not one which I’m particularly interested in eating. However, it can be used as a slider bun because of the size and shape and I find it was better when eaten with ingredients rather than eating it straight.

Hungry Bird rating: 3/5

January Bread Virtual – Double Chocolate Ring

When this recipe was offered under Virtual lessons, I did not hesitate to purchase a ring mould which was used in the recipe when this class is conducted in Japan. In Singapore’s Virtual lesson, they conducted the class without using any mould so the ring would actually grow out of shape, but since I had the mould I could use it to keep everything looking neat and nice. The flavour of this bread was super rich and chocolatey. It has 2 types of chocolate chips and chocolate almond cream filling which made everything rich and fudgey. It is one of my favourite chocolate breads!

However, my bread looks small and deflated because there was a problem with the yeast given in the baking kit, which did not make the dough rise to the amount that it should.

Hungry Bird rating: 5/5

March Bread Virtual – Chocolate Marron

I recognized this bread as a seasonal regular lesson in Japan and was interested to do it because it looks unique and the flavour was chocolate and marron, both flavours I loved. The black part was actually crushed oreo cookies.

However, the taste and texture of this bread was kind of disappointing, probably because the recipe was changed. The texture was very dry and the flavour was not sweet enough, which I believe was due to using cocoa powder instead of melted chocolate kneaded into the dough, like the original recipe in Japan asked for. If I were to do this again I would definitely try using melted chocolate instead.

Hungry Bird rating: 3.5/5

February ABC Best Selection – A Taste of Romance

This meal was designed for Valentine’s Day. In fact, I really cooked it on Valentine’s Day which was a week after my lesson!

My favourite item of the recipe was the chocolate truffles which has crunch from crushed digestive biscuits inside, as well as alcoholic flavour from Grand Marnier. It was so addictively delicious.

My next favourite dish was the shrimp curry baked rice. We learnt to make béchamel sauce with shrimp and onion, and then seasoned cooked Japanese rice with curry powder before assembling it in a casserole and baking in the oven with cheese.

We also made chicken winglets with a special sauce containing chocolate – to match the theme of Valentine’s, as well was sweet potato strips. Many people liked the chicken but I felt it was alright only for me. The side salad was just plain but there for a pop of colour.

Hungry Bird rating: 3.5/5

February Whole Meal Cooking – A Day’s Worth of Vitamin C and Glowing Skin

Firstly, I would say I was very excited for this recipe because it looks like deep fried crispy noodles with seafood slurry – a popular Chinese dish in Japan. However, this whole recipe was not anything like what it looked like. It’s actually some healthy meal where every cooking method was changed to be “healthier”.

The crispy noodles was actually only pan fried, not deep fried, and the texture was tough and hard to chew rather than crispy. The ingredients in the slurry sauce was all blanched, not deep fried, making the taste pretty bland. There’s another cooking menu which has something similar – Taiwanese Delicacies, and that one was much better because all the ingredients were deep fried before adding to the sauce.

The fried spring roll on the side was actually only pan fried, not deep fried, and I felt it was quite unnecessary to do so because the spring roll soaks up a lot of oil still – which doesn’t make it any healthier, and it takes up way more time than deep frying. The side dish of cabbage as well as cabbage “shao mai” was also quite bad. The “shao mai” had quite an awful mushy texture while the cabbage salad was just… raw cabbage.

The only good item of the recipe was the almond pudding dessert which was really nice! It uses almond extract with milk, so there’s no almond milk involved. The almond extract they used was from Nielsen-Massey.

Overall this meal was a fail for me because it has potential to taste much better if only they did not swap out the original cooking methods for something like this.

Hungry Bird rating: 2/5


ABC License

For the License requirement, we need to take a written exam (50 MCQ) and do a practical test which is basically just attending a master lesson but not use assistance from the instructor to complete our product. We would be graded based on how well we performed. The exam class would be separate from the lessons we attend in our 12 Master classes, so it would be a repeat of something we have done before. Having experience doing it before does make everything simpler. It is advisable to choose a recipe which is easy or something you’re comfortable with handling. The product from the exam class would have to remain in the studio and you can share it with your instructors. However, some recipes does produce extra pieces aside from the main yield stated in the recipe and for these extra pieces they may let you take them back. Only the main product remains in the studio.

Cake License Exam – Eclair

I chose to do Elcairs because the lesson duration wasn’t as long as other cakes. The recipe makes 8 eclairs but since there was extra, I got to take the extra pieces at least! 

Bread License Exam – Chocolate Babka

I did the Babka again shortly after doing it the first time because I loved how it tastes.

I got to taste a bit of it right after baking it was delicious!


Events

Scallop in Paradise

I got a 500g box of Japanese Senrei Sashimi Grade scallops sent to my door step. These large scallops are frozen using Cells Alive System (CAS) which makes it possible to store seafood for a long time without losing the taste and flavor of high quality of seafood harvested in Sanriku-Onagawa area.

I decided to make Scallop Risotto, which I’ve cooked once during last year using ABC’s online recipe for Sea Urchin Risotto. Instead of arborio rice, this recipe was cooked using rinse free Japanese rice which could also deliver the same al dente texture. I modified the recipe slightly adding saffron to the cooking stock because saffron goes really well with seared scallops.

It also helped that just 2 weeks before, I was watching a cooking show on TV and the chef provided valuable tips on how to sear scallops. Frozen scallops should never be defrosted by soaking them in water. Instead, we can place them in the fridge one day before cooking to allow it to slowly thaw and then pat dry gently with good quality paper towels. We need the scallops as dry as possible for a nice sear. So I place them into a Ziploc bag to thaw and when the scallops were defrosted, I could even collect some flavourful scallop liquid which came out from the frozen scallops and adding it to the stock gave my risotto an even stronger umami profile!

These Japanese scallops can be purchased from: https://fisk.com.sg/singapore-fish-market/frozen-scallop-japan-l-size-sashimi-grade-senrei-500g/

Senrei Microwavable Fish

I was given 5 types of Senrei Japanese fish products which can be stored at room temperature without preservatives or chemical seasoning and to consume. I only needed to microwave it for 30s at 500W in the original packaging! It was that simple.

Spring was coming so I made myself a Japanese meal of takenoko gohan (bamboo rice) and saba fish to welcome the season 🌸. This looks like a wholesome set meal which takes effort to prepare but it was actually effortless because I didn’t have to cook the fish! The one here is simmered saba.

Best part? It actually tastes really good! I was shookt because I didn’t expect packaged fish to taste like restaurant standard. In fact, I think it tastes better than some “freshly” cooked saba actually because most saba I’ve had in SG has fishy taste and dry texture but I understand that handling raw fish is not easy – the blood, the bones, the innards.

For more information do check out https://www.onagawa-senrei.co.jp/en/lineup/nitsuke/


1 Day Lesson

January 1 Day Lesson – Chilli Crab

I was super excited when this iconic Singaporean local delicacy was going to be taught at ABC and I registered without any hesitation!

I didn’t realise that we were actually going to make mantou from scratch as well and it was a pleasant surprise. I was under the impression that mantou wasn’t easy to get right on first attempt because many people (albeit they are self taught home bakers) seemed to have trouble getting the aesthetics right, like all wrinkled and ugly. 

I was actually surprised that my mantou from this class turned out pretty good for my very first attempt and I’d say this is my favourite and most satisfying part of the lesson!

The main course of chilli crab was not the most authentic version but I appreciate how it’s rather simple and doable at home with short preparation time and was still delicious. Killing the live crab was a part of this lesson. The mango sago dessert was super easy yet yummy.

Hungry Bird rating: 4/5

February 1 Day Lesson – Mikan Nerikiri

Mikan is a the Japanese name for Mandarin oranges originally from China. For this wagashi, we peel the skin off from a tiny mandarin orange and replace the exterior with nerikiri dough made of white bean paste and gyuhi to reconstruct the look of a peeled Mandarin orange. 

Actually I would prefer if this was entirely made of bean paste rather than putting a real orange inside. The oranges uses were regular regionally sources ones and not Japanese fruit whatsoever.

Hungry Bird rating: 3/5


Trial Lessons

January Seasonal Trial – Oriental Violetta

This is not a good looking cake but the taste was pretty good. It is the first time Castella cake was offered at ABC under the trial classes which was purple sweet potato flavour with a piece of processed cheese slice inside and beetroot powder crumble on top with purple sweet potato cubes. I’d say this is a rather Chinese/ East Asian style of cakes rather than the typical western cakes we make.

Hungry Bird rating: 3.5/5

March Seasonal Trial – Takoyaki Bun

Everybody loves takoyaki and takoyaki always looks cute. For March’s trial, we made bread that looks like takoyaki but it is actually just bread. It was quite an interesting recipe, especially the mashed potato fillings.

Hungry Bird rating: 4/5


Home Baking / Cooking

Cake Basic – Shortcake

 

I got myself some of my favourite strawberries – Amaou from Fukuoka, Japan, since it was in season, so I thought it’s time to challenge myself to making ABC’s Strawberry Shortcake. This decoration style is very typical in Japanese cake shops in Japan and I bought a Saint Honore piping tip just to do it. It was 3 years since I learnt this recipe in class so it was a challenge to attempt it now.

I used Elle & Vire cream to do it instead of Millac Gold and I was pleased that it remained stable and smooth enough for me to get a pretty looking cake. Using fresh cream is much more challenging but the taste is superior to non-dairy creams like Millac Gold. Note that the brand of whipping cream does matter – some really poor quality brands would get you dismal results.

It was also my first time getting satisfactory results baking a Genoise vanilla sponge at home! Overall I think my baking skills did improve considerably because I used to always fail at making shortcake at home.

Aside from the Amaou ichigo, all ingredients used for this cake was actually from the 2nd set of ingredients I received for the Mille-Crêpe virtual class which made it really convenient for me!

Cake Baking Kit – Orange Butter Cookie Sandwich

For Chinese New Year, I made these Orange Cookie Sandwiches from a previous ABC baking kit recipe, which has orange buttercream sandwiched between two layers of icebox butter cookies. Creating the orange pattern within the dough required wasn’t that easy but I love how cute it looks!

Cake Basic (Taiwan) – Carre Alsacein & Sale Stick

I learnt a few versions of Florentine from ABC so far, but this one I learnt in Taiwan using ABC Passport has a crispy pâte brisée base which is so good.

Bread Virtual – Double Chocolate Ring

I redid the chocolate ring virtual class recipe since my first attempt during the virtual had problem proofing as they gave me a dead pack of yeast from Redman. Sometimes this happens so I would just stay away from Redman yeast from now. 

Cake Trial – Raspberry Romance (Strawberry)

This was a old trial lesson recipe and it was very easy to do! I decided to try this to use up some leftover cream cheese and digestive biscuits.

ABC Best Selection Cooking – A Taste of Romance

 

For Valentine’s Day, I made chocolate truffles and shrimp curry baked rice which I learnt earlier in the month. It is a practical meal to do at home because it was simple and delicious. The Béchamel sauce can also be used to make Mac’n’cheese!


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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