What started out as a hobby turned into a baking business for Foo Cuen Cuen that has a mission to bring “baking happiness” to people.
Located in the peaceful neighbourhood of Edgedale Plains in Punggol, The Bake School is a well-equipped kitchen workspace with pristine countertops, ever ready to welcome its students. It is a place where bakers can try their hand at kitchen-tested recipes and gain confidence as they recreate their favourite bakes from scratch.
City Harvest member, Foo Cuen Cuen, 40, is the founder and senior instructor at The Bake School. She has 15 years of experience in pastry-making behind her.
“From the time I was about 7, I was helping my grandmother while she cooked—you could always find me in the kitchen! When I was introduced to Home Economics in school, it affirmed my love for baking,” recalls Cuen Cuen.
“When I got married and moved into my own home, I started baking and found that I really enjoyed it. I would bake for my two children and then I started to give my pastries away to others—family, friends and church members around me,” she shares.
Cuen Cuen works full time as a marketer for a multi-national company, but enjoys a flexible work schedule that allows her to run The Bake School This busy lady has also been a cell group leader the last 14 years in CHC.
SHARING THE JOY OF BAKING
Cuen Cuen’s years of baking, coupled with a spirit of excellence, led her to simplify complex recipes. Being a person who loves to share her passion for baking, teaching others to create pastries and bakes felt like a natural step to her.
It began around Easter 2018, when she and her cell group members ran a baking “class” as a bonding activity for friends who were new to CHC. “My cell group members and I organised a tea party after the Easter weekend services for our new friends, and I taught them how to make their own scones and macarons,” she recalls.
One day, while she was buying items from a home business, it dawned upon her that she too could conduct baking lessons from her own home. Tailoring the lessons to her students’ needs and skillsets, Cuen Cuen began teaching out of her home in 2019. To date, she has taught home bakers as well as those who have gone on to sell their bakes.
“I had a student who would practice and send me photos of her bakes every day. She improved over time and sold her pastries to create an income source for her family,” she shares with pride.
ADAPTATION IS KEY
When the COVID-19 Circuit Breaker happened in March 2020, Cuen Cuen took her baking classes online. The classes were well-received and as the year wore on, there were requests for physical classes.
When the opportunity came for her to use a commercial space, Cuen Cuen recognised that the commercial kitchen could house a range of better equipment and allow her to interact with her students more. Being physically present meant that she could observe individual students’ progress, correct or advise them on the spot. This gave a personal touch to their learning experience.
Plans to start her in-person baking school began in July 2020 while Cuen Cuen filmed baking videos to prepare for online classes. From November to December 2020, when the nation moved towards Phase 3 of reopening, Cuen Cuen renovated a physical space that would become The Bake School.
The school prides itself on its low instructor-to-student ratio, encouraging interaction and conversation between the instructor and students. Students can learn to bake a wide range of goods—from macarons and keto scones to burnt cheesecakes and fresh flower naked cakes. “We want to keep the class size small and personable because we want to connect with every student,” explains Cuen Cuen.
The Bake School envisions reaching out to the community and strengthening relationships among loved ones through baking. This mission is very much reflective of CHC’s DNA: to find a need and meet it.
One of the school’s most well-received classes, Bake & Bond, does exactly that. The two-hour guided class is a great way for parents to spend time with their children while learning to create fun desserts like a Baby Shark Mini Cake or Unicorn Dream Cupcakes.
“Recently, one mother told us how happy she was to spend an afternoon baking with her daughter, as she had been trying to get her young daughter to reduce her screen-time,” Cuen Cuen says. “This really meets The Bake School’s aim of helping parents to engage their kids in a meaningful way.”
At the time of writing, Singapore is in Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) and The Bake School has halted the Bake & Bond classes but regular classes continue on-site with a maximum of two participants. The Bake School has future plans to create baking classes catered to friends, couples, and families to reach out to more of the community and bring them #bakinghappiness. For the time being, you can still head to their website—there are free tutorials for some yummy bakes you can make right at home.