Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Bread Baking Class #1

I recently signed up at ABC Cooking Studio. They offer classes in cooking, bread, and cakes, and I am going to learn how to make bread from scratch, without using any mixers or blenders. What I like about this cooking school is that they offer classes every day, every 2 hours from about 10 am to 8 pm, and you just make a reservation online or by phone, whenever and wherever you like. Out of the 83 branches throughout Japan, there are 16 branches in Tokyo, all in convenient locations near the station. Maximum 5 students per class, and everyone makes their own bread by themselves, from measuring the flour to kneading the dough, so it's really hands-on, which I thought is necessary to really learn how to do this. The classrooms are clean and bright and nice and new, and most of the staff are (relatively) young women. (During my free trial lesson, I asked why they don't take male students, and the teacher said there were several episodes where the male students "came for purposes other than learning how to cook".)

The cost for Bread Course Class A, (if this were an American cooking school, it would be called Bread making 101) which are 7 basic classes that everyone must take first, is 28,350 yen (about $240), but I got 50% off that, yay! However, what pisses me off is that they charge 12,600 yen (about $106) for the nyukaikin (a one time only admissions fee, or a membership fee. Literally, "money to enter the club"). I HATE this system in Japan. I mean, what am I paying for? What do I get for 12,600 yen? I would be much happier if they got rid of the nyukaikin, and raised the price of each class by 1,000 yen or something. If they are going to give me a 50% off discount on the tuition, why do they charge full price for the stupid nyukaikin??? My guess is, if I decide not to take the classes, they are required by some kind of consumer law to give me back my money for the tuition, but they can keep the nyukaikin? Japanese companies are SO behind the U.S. on concepts like transparency, accountability, and disclosure, it makes me sick. Anyway, I regard this nyukaikin system pretty much as legalized fraud, and definitely do not support this!

This school CLEARLY targets beginners, as you can see from the recipes they hand out:

I am OK with the illustrated step by step instructions,but the style of the drawings and the handwriting make me feel as if I am back in junior high. I don't like how the recipe leaves a blank space, on purpose, for the temperature of the oven and how long you are supposed to bake the bread. Again, as if I am in junior high and such a gimmick is necessary to make me pay attention during class, duh! So for this Almond Crown, the teacher told us to write this down: 14-17 minutes at 190 C for an electric oven, 9-12 minutes at 180 C for a gas oven, and 13-16 minutes at 190 C for an internet oven. I thought, what the heck is an internet oven? I can turn it on and preheat it on my way home with my cell phone, so it's already hot when I arrive with a raw chicken or something??? I have never actually seen or heard of an oven like that, but I can easily see that happening soon. The technology is already here, it must be just a matter of cost and demand. Either way, that sounds like an electric oven, not what I have. So I ask, what about gas convection ovens? The teacher didn't seem to know what a convection oven was, and asked me if it's the type of oven that hot air circulates inside. I said yes. She said those are internet ovens, so 13-16minutes at 190 C. I knew, from the free trial class, that the teachers here are not real cooking professionals, but just female home chefs like me, and I went into this expecting nothing more. But I expected the bread teacher to at least have HEARD OF a convection oven. Oh well. I see it as a great way to learn different types of bread,and getting hands-on practice of kneading dough. Yes, I could do this at home, but I know I won't. It's the same thing as paying for membership at a gym. You could just run, or do pilates with a dvd at home, but I rarely, if ever, do that. The guilt that comes from paying good money is a big motivational factor. Anyway, I think I did a great job, considering it was my first real class. :)

Next class is butter rolls. I think it's amazing how they organized everything so you are done in 2 hours. I'm going to see how the first 7 classes go, and decide if I want to continue to the next 7 lessons in Class B.


Blogger Sara said...

Been reading your blog...and I would love to take bread baking classes - but, they are few and far between here where I am in New Hampshire...small town...

I have no idea how much a yen is worth - so, it was difficult figuring out the cost...

I am enjoying reading your blog and learning about Japan...

6:41 AM  

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