Mid-Autumn Mooncakes

On August 15 of the lunar calendar, Chinese families make mooncake from scratch or haul metal tins from Costco. While my family usually opt for the latter, we finally tried the seemingly daunting yet highly-approachable recipe for my last Mid-Autumn at home.

Mooncakes, just like dumplings, have an architecture. Encased by a simple thin-layer crust, mooncakes find their flavor in their rich paste-like fillings, the most popular being red bean, lotus, or dates.  For the adventurous, there is mixed nut with bacon and candied winter melon. For the salty-sweet flavorists, you can find 1, 2, even 4 duck egg yolks filled with red bean paste in one mooncake.  Nowadays, young people go for ice cream filled, chocolate or Matcha flavor mooncakes.

Despite the inexhaustible varieties of flavor, mooncake is always meant to be shared: ancient Chinese tradition tells that households should cut mooncake slices based on the number of your family, near or far, in equal portion. Fortunately, each Wang family member consumes a quarter, but 1/6 when the grandparents are over, or 1/15990900 if the neighbors decide to part take.

Ingredients:

  • Flour 240 g
  • Milk powder 240 g
  • Honey 150 g
  • Oil 70 g
  • Alkaline water 70g (1/3 baking soda and 8 oz. water)
  • Lotus paste 510 g
  • Egg wash (1 egg yolk and 1/3 tsp water)
  • Spray bottle with water
  • Lined baking sheet
  • Mooncake mold, can be purchased off of Amazon
  • Pastry brush

Preparation:

Make alkaline water with 1/3 tsp of baking soda and 8 oz water. Mix well and set aside.

Make egg wash with 1 egg yolk and 1/3 tsp of water. Mix well and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 200C (or 400F)

Process:

(1). In a large bowl, mix flour and milk powder.

(2). In another bowl, mix honey, oil and 70g of alkaline water together.

(3). Pour (2) to (1), mixing until a dough forms. Knead dough with hand in the bowl, form it into a ball.

(4). Divide the dough into 6 equal portions of 50 g each. Roll each portion into a ball.

(5). Roll it out with a rolling pin into a flat circle of approximately 10 cm. in diameter

(6). Divide lotus paste into 85 g each portion, roll it into a ball. 

(7). Place the lotus paste ball onto the flat circular dough. Lift up the edge of the dough and wrap up the lotus paste ball, close the opening and pinch off the extra dough. Roll it in both palms into a ball.  Dust it with flour generously.

Video outlining the following steps:

(8). Press it firmly into the mold so the impression of the mold will show clearly on the cake.

(9). Bang the mold on all four sides to release the dough.  Finally, drop and catch the dough into your palm.

(10). Place the mooncake on a lined baking tray, spray them with water to keep them moist. Keep a distance from the mooncake.

(11). Bake in 200C or (400F) for 5 minutes to set the pattern. Take them out, let them cool down a bit before you gently brush on egg wash. Avoid pressing your brush too firmly and eroding the print.

(12). Bake them in 375F oven for another 15 minutes or till golden brown. My prints did not come out as strong; avoid this by pressing your raw mooncake firmer into the mold, as well as misting water farther away and avoiding pockets of egg wash trapped in the print.

Let them cool down. Devour the cake by moonlight.

Published by holidaysallyearround

For most cultures, holidays serve as the only opportunities in the year in which we come together: to reunite with faraway relatives, reconcile our past ancestors, and refill stomachs. And for most, holidays fall deep into history, myths, or grandma's fictitious tales that dictate the food boiling after a sacrificial ceremony to the decorations adorned on doors.

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