Quick, list your top 3 reasons for why you don’t bake your own desserts!
“I don’t know how.”
“I don’t have the ingredients.”
“I don’t have the supplies.”
“My kitchen is too small.”
“Too lazy to clean everything.”
“It’s not that fun.”
“I have no time, not even an hour and a half.”
DIY Baking Club No. 3 (自己做烘焙聚樂部） is here to solve all of your excuses–all except the last one. Nobody can magically make time appear out of thin air, not even computer scientists. Sorry.
But at DIY Baking Club, within walking distance from MRT Zhongxiao Dunhua and surrounding bus stops, you’ll see that anyone can make cookies and cake!
It’s two floors of wooden furniture, colorful IKEA kitchen tools, expert pastry employees, and open space for people to come and bake everything from earl grey madeleines to chocolate chiffon cake to swiss rolls. They have a national hotline for reservations (5 stores throughout Taiwan), but walk-ins are acceptable too, as long as you’re willing to wait an indefinite amount of time for a phone call letting you know you need to be there in 15 minutes, stat.
When you walk in, you immediately smell chocolate and caramelized sugar, and see all these happy people wearing aprons, whisking away. It’s a lovely sight. Also major PSA: Go make your own desserts! It’s super fun, and I think also very informative to see the ingredients that go into your favorite sweets. How does butter and sugar become madeleines? How does egg white become meringues? How much liquor is in Tiramisu? (Answer: not that much.) When you make your own breads/desserts/cakes, you see what goes into in, and also know that whatever you’re about to eat is free from corporate preservatives. Don’t even get me started on Sara Lee White Bread.
We went upstairs with our bill in hand, having chosen the dishes we want to make: almond thins and earl grey madeleines (boom, there goes Chekov’s gun)! Yum.
Once upstairs, the staff will lead you to your seats, then hand each person an iPad with video and text recipes. You watch the video first, then follow the text step by step to actually complete it. The company policy is that you’re not allowed to record the video or take pictures of the text recipes, because it’s copyrighted. I would imagine it’s not too hard to find similar recipes online though. You could always start by searching on my favorite cooking blogs: in Chinese and in English. 🙂
Once you watch the video, the really exciting part begins! Ingredient hunting!
Ahhh I love this. Two parallel rows of cabinets with bowls, dry ingredients, whisks, and digital scales. A sampling of what’s available: cake flour, digestive crackers–kind of like graham crackers–cranberries, cornstarch, pepper, wine… As for tools, we’ve got: bowls, sieves, whisks, parers, spatulas, graters, utensils, the whole lot.
This is the baking supplies section, with molds, sheet pans, cake pans, cookie cutters, cupcake liners, pie pans, so on and so forth. Everything is in a proper cubby with nice labels, neat and clean and stacked. Dream kitchen, this. A place for everything and everything in its place.
Here’s the microwave and fridge area, for things like butter, cream cheese, egg whites, egg yolk, milk, heavy cream, etc. Are you in love with the level of organization yet?
I think I took an inordinate amount of time making sure my bowls were complimentary colors and playing with the scales just because I enjoyed it too much. They even tell you to use ceramic bowls instead of plastic bowls for butter, since plastic bowls is hard to rid of oil. Plus, the UI makes it so ridiculously easy to understand. I’ve used digital scales quite often, but I had to admit the combination of pictures and corresponding buttons on the scale is so user-friendly. Even the app on the tablets for recipes is crazy intuitive in terms of swiping and progress tracking. It’s incredible how technology can be used in every field.
After you put all your ingredients on a clean white tray, you go back to your seat and begin. The recipes tell you exactly how many times to whisk the batter LOL. This honestly is a great place to take beginner friends and expert chefs alike. The more challenging cakes take 2+ hours, but I chose the almond thins for 1.5 hours so it’s super duper simple. I like the almond thins in Taiwanese bakeries quite a lot, yet I’ve never made them myself, so I thought it’s worth a shot.
My recipe calls for hand whisking, but if you go for something schmancy you might get to use the stand mixers.
Sneaking look over at the earl grey madeleine molds…
I made my batter, wrapped the bowl with saran wrap, then placed it in the fridge for chilling. While waiting, you can go and preheat an oven. 2 rows of ovens available, all you need to do is pick an open one, then put a sticky note with your name and food item on the door!
Once the batter is chilled, I spread it out on a baking sheet, then into the oven it goes. DIY Baking Club has cute timers too so you don’t burn your precious crackers.
As your dessert bakes, the staff will come over and check in every once in a white, and give you some advice on how to package the food once it comes out. While waiting, you should go wash your dishes first, and then…
Enjoy the drinks bar! They have tea and juices, and some benches for your sitting leisure. There’s also a wallpaper emblazoned with desserts that I imagine is very popular amongst the Instagrammers.
It’s ready 🙂 Golden brown and super-thin, so crispy and fragrant. Yum. Sliced almonds are my favorite. Whole almonds are a bit challenging to bite into.
One must always sample her products to ensure quality. Yup, delicious. Pretty on par with the ones I’ve had in bakeries, and dare I say even better because mine are thinner? The light crunch is delectable.
Pick an appropriately sized box, and off we go! Goodbye my dear DIY Baking Club No. 4, what a lovely afternoon we had ^.^