OCN C27 A Hundred Different Shapes

Xiao Ming glanced at Qian Huang again. For one, he wanted to make sure that his friend was still doing alright, and second, he couldn’t help but wonder if there weren’t any comments today. This was something he really wasn’t used to anymore.

Back when they had started the channel, this had been the norm. Nobody had commented for the first two or three months. And even after that, it took quite a bit of time before they could expect regular comments. Their channel had really been a slow-growing one.

But that had been five years ago. By now, they had tenths of thousands of subscribers. Even if only one percent of them commented, there would still be too many comments for them to read. So not hearing Qian Huang pipe up even once to inject what somebody had mentioned in the comment section felt weird. Well, maybe Qian Huang wasn’t doing well enough to even focus on the comments. He should continue and try to speed up. That way, Qian Huang could go and rest soon.

Thinking of that, Xiao Ming started with his introduction of the dish. “There are a lot of different types of buns and we’ve made quite a few here on the channel before. Just think of the figurative buns from two days ago, for example! But as you will remember, these buns were either steamed or maybe fried.

“Now, since I’ve already announced today’s third dish as ‘baked char siu buns’ before, it won’t come as a surprise to you that we will handle these buns a little differently. That’s right: Instead of preparing the buns like usual, we will bake these in the oven.” He smiled brightly, his eyes curving into small crescents. Since he had no idea what was actually going on in the comment section, he was still as relaxed as usual and could just continue.

“I’ve once again prepared the dough and the fillings already so we just need to shape the buns and then they can go into the oven. The process itself actually won’t take that long.” With that, he once again turned to the side and took two bowls, similar to the ones from before.

Back in the comments section, some viewers still hadn’t given up bad-mouthing Xiao Ming.

Knight with a Bucket on His Head: [Prepared again! What a surprise! Or maybe it’s best to say that it isn’t a surprise if the person doing it can’t actually cook?”

By now, some of the other regular viewers had had enough.

Cat Dancing on a Wire: [Upstairs, are you sure that you would be able to hold an impromptu presentation on the different types of frying? Because if you can’t, you’d better shut up!]

The other user wasn’t convinced of that reasoning though.

Knight with a Bucket on His Head: [Who says it’s an impromptu presentation? Maybe it was scripted by somebody who knows about these things and he’s just reading it off?]

Cat Dancing on a Wire: [If that was the case, you’d see his eyes move from side to side. But most of the time, he isn’t even looking at the camera. He is shaping the buns. Or do you think that the text he’s reading was engraved in them, huh?]

The other guy had to admit to himself that that was true but he still wasn’t willing to give up. After making one comment, it was hard to just agree that it had been a stupid one. Wouldn’t he look like an idiot then? Thus, he could only try to hold on and find another argument even though he was half-convinced that he might have been wrong.

Knight with a Bucket on His Head: [Then maybe he learned it by heart before. Anyway, being able to talk about the subject doesn’t mean that you know anything about it. I remember when I went to school, I also had presentations about lots of things I didn’t really understand.]

Another one of the regular viewers of Bright Yellow Water jumped in at that.

Food Enthusiast: [I see that one of the things you don’t know anything about is cooking. The dough that Xiao Ming will be using for the baked char siu buns is a wet dough which is made with yeast. It needs to rest for at least thirty minutes to an hour depending on the room temperature before he can use it.

Do you really think he has enough time to do all of that on stream? How long do you think he wants to let his viewers wait? It doesn’t make any sense to make the dough on stream unless he is going to talk about the process at length.

As others have pointed out before: He has actually done so in the past. Look at some of Bright Yellow Water’s streams before the live streams in preparation for ‘Golden Spoon’. In those, Xiao Ming went through entire recipes and demonstrated on screen how they are done, giving tips along the way what people should pay attention to.

Xiao Ming could do the same for these streams if not for the time constraint. But since he is speaking about a specific topic in each stream, he will focus on these because that is what he currently wants to teach everyone. Thus, it just makes more sense to prepare everything beforehand so that he can leave more time for the actual topic.]

This time, the other user was already squirming in his seat. He had only come here after a friend sent him the link to Misses Youya’s blogpost and he hadn’t actually watched a single video to judge whether Xiao Ming knew what he was doing or not. How was he supposed to argue now?

Knight with a Bucket on His Head: [Well, if it’s like this, then he should say so!]

Food Enthusiast: [Well, who says that he isn’t going to do so later on? Also, even if he doesn’t, this isn’t the subject of today’s special. Xiao Ming is probably just not expecting that everybody would just think the worst of him without even getting to know him and the channel. If you are new here, why don’t you just watch the stream and wait until the end before you make a judgment? That would be pretty easy.]

The user in question finally shut up at that, not daring to speak up again. It was already bad enough to have said those other things before. He’d just pretend he was dead now.

Back in front of the camera, Xiao Ming showed the bowl with the dough to the camera and then started to explain. “This is the dough for the buns. I’ve had it proof for a while and will have to knead it again now before it can be made into the individual pieces that we will use to wrap the filling. When we finish with that, the buns will have to proof a little longer later on. So give me a moment to prepare this dough for the filling. I’ll explain at the side.”

With that, he picked up the dough and started to knead it again, finally separating it as he had said before he would. He only glanced at the camera when he was putting a plastic sheet on top of them.

“I’ve said this in the past but if you’ve done buns like these before, or any dishes with this kind of dough really, then you will know that the dough will become dry very fast if you leave it out in the air. So when you’ve finished handling one piece, you should always put some plastic wrap on top so it stays wet enough.”

With that, he fell silent again, and soon enough, a few pieces of dough had been prepared. “Alright, now, we are just going to put the filling on top and then wrap it up.” Saying so, Xiao Ming went ahead and shaped the individual buns, finally putting them on a tray and once again putting some plastic wrap on top to cover them.

Finally, Xiao Ming took a step back, looked up, and smiled at the camera. “Alright, these will have to proof a little while longer while we should already preheat the oven.”

He turned on the oven and then looked back up at the camera, still smiling. “Now, while this is heating up, let’s talk a bit more about baking. Compared to frying, there aren’t as many different methods, especially if you keep in mind that we only talked about the most common frying methods before. As such, I will only give you a short overview of what I think is the most important to know.

“For one, there is a process called blind baking. You should use this method to bake a dough which will later on be filled. For that, you’d traditionally put tin foil, a parchment, or something similar on top of the dough and then add weights. This way, the dough can’t rise up. You have to take out the weights before the end of the baking process though so the dough can brown.”

Xiao Ming fell quiet for a moment and glanced at the buns lying next to him. Finally, he motioned over. “If you look at our char siu buns right now, you’ll see that they are very pale. That’s not strange, of course. There’s flour and milk in there which is both white while there aren’t any darker ingredients. How could the dough be any darker?

“But when baking, the color is important. Most doughs should be baked until they become lightly browned or might seem a little golden. In the best case, this color will also not only show at one part of the dish like the top or maybe the sides but everywhere. Basically, you want to try and achieve an even color.

“Especially in the beginning, this might not be easy to do because you have to keep several things in mind. Naturally, the ingredients will play a role. Each dough will be fully-baked in a different amount of time. They will also require different temperatures.

“This is especially important since the heat starts to affect the dough from the outside first and then to the inside. If the temperature you use is too high or too low or you leave your dough in the oven for an insufficient amount of time or maybe too long, then it can happen that the outside will burn while the inside will not be done yet. Sometimes, even if you get the crust right, the inside might still be the raw dough. This will not taste well, of course, and ruin your dish. Thus, you have to pay attention to these two variables.”

He glanced at the clock to see whether the buns were ready to go in the oven but there were still a couple of minutes left so he turned back to the camera. “When we talked about frying, I mentioned that different methods made the use of different cooking vessels necessary. In baking, this is pretty much the same. In fact, there are many different forms you can use.

“You can already see that our char siu buns will be baked on a tray and you have certainly seen the forms for some cakes. There will be round ones, rectangular ones, quadratic ones, and also shapes like hearts for special occasions. You probably also know about some traditional forms for specific types of cakes like the round quiche pans with wavy edges or a Bundt cake pan.

“You can even bake some dishes on a grid. For example, the char siu that I used in the filling of these buns was also baked on a grid.”

While Xiao Ming said so, he picked up a small bowl with some milk in it and a brush that was lying to the side. “Right, let’s get back to the buns for a moment: One thing that is important is that you should brush them with a bit of milk before you put them in the oven. This will help with giving them a nice color later on.” He smiled, dipped the brush in the milk, and then took the plastic wrap off the tray before brushing the buns.

Putting the brush down again, he motioned over to the oven. “Alright, the oven is already preheated. Now, we can put the buns in there for about twelve to fifteen minutes. If they need a bit longer to get a nice color, don’t worry about it. It might just be that the ratio of your ingredients was slightly different. Just give them a couple more minutes and they should be done. Make sure to keep an eye on them though.” He turned around, opened the oven, and then pushed the tray inside. After closing it, he took a glance at the clock to make sure that he would get the time right. Then, he turned back around to the camera.

“Speaking of ovens … you can actually bake in other ways too. Maybe the first thing that comes to your mind now is pizza which can be baked on a stone. There is also the possibility of combining heated stones or hot sand that go below the dish and hot ash to go on top to make dishes like ash cakes. I think this is worth giving a try if you’re a bit more adventurous but just an oven is already very good for baking.”

He smiled again and then fell quiet for a moment. “Well, as I mentioned before, I don’t have that much to say about baking compared to frying. So now, we have already covered everything I wanted to say. Are there any further questions?” He turned to look at Qian Huang, slightly raising his brows. Usually, with every dish, he would get at least one or two comments. Since nothing had been said yet even though he had almost finished the second dish already, he couldn’t help but wonder if something was up.

Qian Huang looked at the comment section, his expression a little tangled. Thanks to the viewers that had stuck up for them, things weren’t looking that bad anymore but it still couldn’t be said that it was the like in their usual live streams. Every now and then, there would still be a person jumping up to say that they really believed that Xiao Ming had only managed to get to where he was because the right relied on Nin Sha. Or some people who doubted his actual skills because of everything that had been prepared.

With all of that going on, the people who had genuine questions might not even be willing to come out and say anything. It really was a pity. Things had been going so well in the past few days. But he probably shouldn’t have hoped that it would always go on like this.

In the end, he could only give a wry smile. “I’m afraid you explain too well. Nobody has asked any questions about it.”

Xiao Ming rubbed his neck with some embarrassment. “So it’s like that … Well, I guess this was also a bit theoretical. I really would’ve liked to show you all the different methods with an example but even if I just went with the most common ones, we probably would need to do at least a dozen dishes. That’s a bit much for just one stream. But with all the other topics we’ve still planned for you, I’m afraid we won’t have time to cover all of that in the three weeks until ‘Golden Spoon’ will start.

“Well, on the bright side, I am going to demonstrate one of the techniques we have already talked about with the next dish but will also introduce a new one to you. Both this dish and the one following after are a bit special in terms of the preparation process. This is because they can actually be done in different ways.

“You could say that this is true for quite a few dishes. But with some dishes, the differences will only be minimal while with these, you can take completely different approaches. So let’s first have a look at one way to cook creamy cabbage casserole.”

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