SML Extra: A Sweet Treat (6)

Li Ming smiled and nodded at the magazine in his hands. “That was the last ingredient, by the way. So let’s start with the first recipe?”

“Sure!” Mo Fang came back to the table and looked at everything they had gathered. He had read all the recipes ahead of time so he knew what to expect from which one. He didn’t want to make all the decisions by himself though. This was supposed to be their joined project, after all. “Which one do you want to start with?”

Li Ming had only seen the recipes today and wasn’t much into baking so he wasn’t too familiar with them. Looking at the last one they had chosen, he gave a hum. “This one needs us to refrigerate the dough for at least four hours.” His brows raised as he continued to read. “Actually, it says we can refrigerate it for up to two days.” He looked up at Mo Fang in a daze. Two days … that would be one long date.

Mo Fang only smiled though. “Four hours should be enough. Let’s start with that dough then. We can make the other two while we wait for it to finish. Anyway, it might take a while.”

Li Ming gave another hum. Since he was already holding the magazine, he started to tell Mo Fang the steps. “First, we should melt the butter. That’s … 125 grams.”

Mo Fang nodded, picked up the butter and a pan, and walked over to the stovetop. “That’ll take a moment. Do you want to measure the other ingredients in the meantime?” Usually, he did that ahead of time but with an additional pair of hands there, he felt that they didn’t need to be too particular. Anyway, the ingredients had been gathered and only needed to be measured now.

“Sure.” Li Ming got up, grabbed the flour and the measuring jug, and got to work. “How do you want me to do the vanilla extract and the baking powder?” He glanced at Mo Fang, also taking a look at the butter while he was at it. It seemed he’d still have a moment.

Mo Fang looked over his shoulder and then reached up to open a cupboard next to him. “There are some small bowls in there. I usually just pour the ingredients in there. I also have some plates for seasonings that are small enough to just hold a teaspoon or two so you can take that as well.”

“Alright.” Li Ming walked over and looked through the cupboard, taking out a few of the dishes. He felt a bit strange doing this. He didn’t think that he had ever looked into anyone’s cupboards or taken anything out unless it was a family member or a longtime boyfriend. It had certainly never happened on a first date. But then, nobody had ever invited him to bake together on a first date so maybe this wasn’t too odd.

To be honest, even though he wasn’t a nosy person, it was interesting to see. Even though he had only quickly taken what he needed, he had seen at a glance that everything in the cupboard seemed to fit very well together. It was the same style with light colors and open forms.

Li Ming went back to measure the remaining ingredients while thinking about it and used the opportunity to look around everything else that was currently out in the open in the kitchen. Now that he paid attention, it seemed that the style of the dishes remained the same throughout. “Did you choose the dishes?”

Mo Fang had just finished with the butter and faintly raised his brows. “The bowls and plates? I did. What should I do with the butter?”

“Oh, put that aside first. Next, we need a mixer.”

Mo Fang nodded and went to get it, feeling that he should have thought of that earlier. Ah, he couldn’t help it though! Even though he might sound casual while talking, he was a bit nervous about this date. Even though it was going well so far, there was no guarantee it would stay that way. He wished it would though.

He tried not to think too much and just faintly cleared his throat, talking to get his nerves to calm down again. “Well, I said that Yu Ting didn’t have the patience for cooking, right? So even though he chose very well in regard to the appliances, the details were a bit lacking for daily use.”

He grabbed a mixing bowl while he was at it and then walked back to Li Ming’s side. “At first, I couldn’t bring myself to change anything in the apartment. Later, the kitchen was the room where I started to personalize everything. Anyway, in here, I could tell myself that it didn’t matter. After all, between the two of us, it was always me who was cooking. He wouldn’t have minded if I changed anything.”

“It seems very nice. Both from a practical standpoint and also the design.” He glanced at the small bowls he had taken out again. “I don’t know if you remember but my dishes could be called a hodgepodge. I started gathering them as soon as I moved out from my parents and then only slowly added to them over the years. Some were gifts as well.”

Mo Fang hummed while glancing at the recipe and adding the ingredients into the mixing bowl. “It’s nice though, isn’t it? I mean, with every single piece, you have something you relate to it. It’s very personal, no matter how it may look.”

Li Ming couldn’t deny that. “I actually do remember where I got every single piece.”

“See?” Mo Fang added the last ingredient and then handed the bowl to Li Ming. “How about you mix this? I can measure the ingredients for the next recipe already.”

Li Ming nodded, glanced at the recipe to make sure they hadn’t forgotten anything, and then got to work. With the sound of the mixer, talking wasn’t as comfortable so they both fell silent and just quietly worked side by side.

When Li Ming finished mixing the dough, he turned to look at Mo Fang with a smile. “I remember my mother baking while I was still a child. She’d turn on some Christmas music every time, saying it helped with getting into the mood.”

Mo Fang hummed. “I could probably find a few songs online. Although this might feel like less of a date then.”

Li Ming thought about it and shook his head. “Aren’t most Christmas songs love songs anyway? I don’t think it’d be a problem.”

Mo Fang chuckled in response and took out his phone, indeed looking up a few songs to play. He made sure not to turn up the sound too much though. After all, even though he was willing to create a Christmas-y atmosphere, he still wanted to talk with Li Ming and not just get swept up in the holiday spirit.

While Mo Fang was busy, Li Ming hesitated for a moment but then went to put the dough in the fridge by himself. Anyway, four hours were four hours. They shouldn’t waste time. He still felt a bit guilty about rearranging Mo Fang’s groceries though. Clearly, he was the type who loved a well-organized kitchen.

Mo Fang gave a hum when he was done with the music and put his phone on the windowsill where it wouldn’t get in the way. “Alright, let’s do the gingerbread then? I think that dough also has to rest for two hours.”

Li Ming couldn’t help but laugh. “Maybe we should switch to something else?”

Mo Fang hesitated. To be honest, this might indeed be better. But then … “I do think gingerbread is about as Christmas-y as it gets. Also, we have to wait four hours for the Madeleines anyway. What’s two hours in the meantime?”

Li Ming nodded. “I guess that’s also true. Well, let’s start with the gingerbread then.”

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