May 31, 2011
People, I feel thankful for the support you’d given me in my last post. I’ve been going through a rough time, unfortunately, and to be honest, but reading your comments did cheer me up. There are a few mornings on which I woke up to your encouraging words, and, you know what, I smiled. For all that, THANK YOU!
One of the things I’ve learned, besides being grateful for all that I’ve been blessed with, is to cherish trust. Trust must be treated right; once violated, you’ll lose grip of it, forever. Among the key ingredients for trust are sincerity, honesty, and faith. Trust is hard work: In every relationship, it has to be built from scratch and then, to preserve it, must be continuously nourished and fortified.
Because of my and the others’ breaking of the Trust Rules, over the years, I have lost friends and come to be paranoid. It was tragic, a painful lesson learned. And I don’t want the same to happen to you, my reader. So to the promise I made a month ago, that I would share with you before May ends, here’s another post on the tangzhong (湯種). This time, it is, however, prepared on not the stove but in the microwave. And the charcoal-black buns at the top of this page are made with microwaved tangzhong. They taste so good!
(Yep. I do love to cook and bake, but since my sophomore year of college, the microwave has been an indispensable part of my kitchen, because, after all, I’m a leftover queen.)
Actually, microwave to prepare tangzhong is no novelty. It’s a method that’s been circulating, for several years, among the Chinese bloggers in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, and mainland China. In fact, since I first read about it on a Chinese baking blog, in the summer of 2008, I’ve been occasionally relying on the microwave to prepare tangzhong.
Sorry that I can’t link you to the site where I first learned about the nuked tangzhong. I’ve failed to recall how I chanced upon it and, worse comes worst, the name of the site. (Oh dear, is this a sign of dementia?) What I can be sure of, though, is that the microwave method is particularly useful in making a small batch of tangzhong. You know how most tangzhong recipes tell you to whisk together 50 grams of flour and 250 grams of water, right? That golden ratio of one to five? How obnoxious it is, that 300 grams of tangzhong, in the end, gives you too much left over to deal with? (If you’re planning to bake two kilograms of bread, the story will be different. Because you are going to use up the entire batch of tangzhong, anyway.)
Essentially, alongside the usual ingredients of bread flour and water (or milk, if that’s what you use), you’ll need plastic wrap, a small or medium-size microwavable bowl, a microwave (most households do have one, eh?), and a mini egg beater or fork or, what works nicely for me is, a pair of chopsticks. That’s it. Next, simply adhere to the five-parts-water-to-one-part-flour ratio — depending on the tangzhong bread recipe you’ve chosen to try, do the math and adjust the quantities accordingly — and proceed with the instructions below for preparing tangzhong. Do note that a smidgen of flexibility is necessary along the way.
So I’m leaving you with the instructions for microwaved tangzhong. But before I go, I do have to tell you that I’m drained. I’ve been struggling, physically and emotionally, to find the most suitable path for my career.
My close friends have been supportive and lending an ear to me. Fellow writers whom I know have given me words of wisdom to reflect upon. I’m handling the crisis the best that I can. But I’m too tired and overwhelmed. While I can’t say much at the moment, I hope I can share more about this stage of my life, in retrospect, with you in a few years. Till then, it shall be a matter of whether you’re still listening to me and if this blog is still around. I know this crisis isn’t something that can be resolved overnight; I suppose it’ll take years. It’s part of the process of growing up and understanding myself better.
With all that, I hate saying this: but I’ll have to take things slower, even, on here. Needless to say, mood swings(!) slow my writing, too. (Erm, I’m a moody writer.) What you can be assured of, though, is occasional updates on this blog, and that I’ll always be checking incoming messages from you and, if needed, reply to them the soonest possible and to the best that I can.
I’m working hard, for all the trust you’ve put in me, because I don’t want to lose it.
Microwaved Tangzhong (微波爐湯種)
This recipe should be treated as a reference. Depending on the amount of tangzhong called for in the recipe you’re using, you’ll need to adjust the quantities for the below ingredients accordingly. Remember, what always stands is: five parts water to one part flour.
20 grams plain bread flour
100 grams water or milk
Adjust the microwave’s setting. You’ll want to cook the flour-and-water mixture in a moderate heat — neither too strong nor too gentle. Having said that, I always set mine to medium-high.
In a small microwavable bowl, whisk to thoroughly combine the flour and water. The mixture should be smooth and free of lump.
Send the bowl to the microwave, and start off by nuking the mixture for 30 seconds. Remove the bowl from the microwave and give the mixture a good stir. Return to the microwave and, depending on how much you’re making, nuke for another 30 to 40 seconds. At this point, check the mixture for its consistency every seven to 10 seconds. Be more careful, especially toward the end; otherwise, you may risk overcooking the mixture. It’s tangzhong when, with every stir, there are lines trailing behind the beater or fork or chopsticks (whichever one you’re using for this purpose). The tangzhong should also be somewhat runny. Stop cooking the mixture and remove it from the microwave.
To prevent a layer of skin from forming, immediately seal the surface of the tangzhong with a sheet of plastic wrap. The plastic wrap must be touching the surface of the tangzhong. Set the tangzhong aside, let it cool completely before using. If you’re not going to use it shortly thereafter, refrigerate it. The tangzhong keeps for up to three days, chilled. Just be sure that it’s brought to room temperature the next time you want to use it.
Yield: 115 grams tangzhong