In the early days when I was still young *hrm* I too went out to look for baking classes to attend. That is the fastest way to learn. Some were good. Others not. These exposures gave me good ideas to how I should be conducting my own.
Let me see if I can recall the things I look out for in choosing which baking class to attend.. Just for sharing if it helps somebody out there.
1. What you want is to learn to bake first and foremost. This is a no brainer to most. Most people will have one or two things in mind - their most desirable cakes they wanted to learn immediately. If you don't, it's okay too - which might be the best scenario actually; you will probably want to start learning the fundamentals and start with basic baking classes.. i.e. from cupcakes, muffins, chiffons to breads, fondant decorated cakes, macarons, etc...
2. Which baking school teaches what? Not all children are born equal. Likewise, not all school are made equal. You will probably google it. E.g. "Japanese Swiss Rolls Baking Class". And you will probably checkout those websites in the first couple of pages. Here, intuition counts. You may or may not like the website - the way it looks, though looks do count to catch your attention; and this invariably also makes you decide to sign up or not with this school or service provider. The logic is that if it spent efforts in presenting clear information and pleasant looking website, you would probably inferred that the school took the same amount of pride and effort in getting excellent teachers, great teaching materials and creating a conducive learning environment.
3. Generally, you will want to know who is the baking instructor you will learn from. Is his or her experience coming from commerical or home baking? Commerical baking tend to focus on large quantities production making cakes & pastries. It is not uncommon that they use chemical products like glycerin, stabalizer, etc... to either enhance the taste or keep it looking fresh for the longest time possible. Whereas, a specialised home baker instructor will teach you how to utilise home baking appliances fully, and advise on ingredients that are healthier - for the simple reason that you are baking for yourself and loved ones to eat; so eat healthily and unlikely to be stingy on good ingredients.
So ask yourself if you are learning to be a professional baker or for personal enrichment. It does make a difference if you know what i mean. Apart from looking at his/her profile, check out for testimonials or google reviews on the class and/or instructor. It will give you more indications. But note that there will always be positive and negative feedbacks for any schools or instructors. If there are only 100% good feedbacks with 0% negative, then you should be wary too. No one is perfect. And each school serves different customer segments/needs. For example, the customers going to Community Centre to learn baking will likely be different than those going to some branded baking school.
4. Next, check out the specific baking workshop details that you are interested in. Note the skills level needed. Some are designed for advanced students. Personally, I was quite focused in this area then, as I know exactly what i want to learn in terms of methods and certain techniques.
So don't sign up the wrong class! And note whether it is a demo class or hands on. Usually you can get the clues based on the price. Demo class, of course, will be cheaper. Exceptions are high-end demos e.g. with celebrity chefs, may not be cheap though.. While talking about price, some published prices do not include ingredients costs, and you pay the instructor during the class. This is a common practice at CC (community centre).
Another is, number of recipes taught. Some workshop teach only one recipe while others two or more. This may not be obvious to you at first, but if the pricing is low, then it is more likely that only one recipe will be taught. So it is better to compare apple to apple i.e. price of one recipe to one recipe classes, or two recipes to two recipes classes. You may find it more value for money to attend a two-recipe class than one of one-recipe.
5. Quality of recipe. Now, this is one of the most crucial aspect, if not the most, in choosing which baking class to attend. The output of the recipe must be delicious! Right? Okay.. this is really up to individual taste and perception. And you won't know till you attended the class. Or maybe you can ask someone who have attended the class before to find out about the quality of the bake (aka recipe). Understandably this is difficult to assess without first going through it yourself. Perhaps this is part of the culinary journey one has to travel thru. I did mine too. ; )
6. Location-wise, unlike in other countries where you can drive for hours, Singapore is fortunately (or unfortunately) small enough, where it took at most an hour to go from anywhere. But I guess some will beg to differ.. ; ) Some people will like it to be in town. Others don't mind travelling to some off-the-town places that seemed less stressful and away from the busy 'buzzy' city.. To each, it's own.. a matter of preference.
7. This is very important to me - Class format/structure. Different schools will teach using different methods. Some only do demonstration while the students watch only. Some will do one round of demo and then the students make their own (hands on). But usually for such classes it only teaches less or just one recipe due to time constraints. Another method, full hands on, where the teacher only demo specific steps (not the full demo) to guide the students along during their hands on class. I prefer this method due to personal learning preference and also the fact that the teacher can then squeeze in one or more recipes for the students. So, find out how the class will be conducted? And whether the baking is done individually or in group? These are most likely reflected in the cost of the class too.
8. Of course, attending a baking class does not end with one lesson unless you are a casual baker who just want to experience it for once-in-a-lifetime. Otherwise, you will want to assess the whole experience and ask yourself if you will want to attend future classes with the same baker or school again. Back then, i would return to the school for more mouthwatery lessons. The teaching style of the instructor plays a very important part of my learning. So it must fit your learning style too. I like instructors who are open and sincere in his/her sharing of techniques especially certain tips that you can't get from a recipe book. There are many online teeaching materials too. But nothing beats an instructor who guides you along during a hands on lesson.
Mmm... so roughly seven ideas I've shared. Wish you all the best in your baking journey! And certainly hope to see you at BakinCalf baking classes! ; )