Traditional Baked Mooncakes
The mid-autumn festival (中秋节) falls on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month. That translates to Monday, 8 September this year. It is customary to eat mooncakes on this day. Do you make your own traditional baked mooncakes (中秋月饼)? Many years come and go but I never got around to doing so. I am so glad that I finally took the plunge this year, and tried my hand at making them.
Mooncake making turned out to be much easier than I expected, thanks to ready-made lotus filling (I am a happy cheater!), and an excellent youtube video to learn from.
My mooncakes may not be the most perfect or best looking ones around, but they certainly are delicious and I took pride in making them haha. I will probably not be buying anymore mooncakes in future since making them is both fun and cheaper.
Here are some of the ingredients and tools you will need to make moon cakes.
(A) ready made mooncake filling (lotus paste).
(B) golden syrup
(C) alkaline water (aka lye water) which balances the acidity of the golden syrup and gives it a beautiful brown finish.
(D) mini mooncake moulds.A, C and D from Phoon Huat (PH) or Kwong Cheong Thye (KCT); B from PH or KCT & supermarkets. For golden syrup, you can also get the squeeze bottle type (same brand) with maple flavour.
Note: KCT carries filling paste in minimum 500 grams pack (more information on my instagram), while PH sells in minimum 1kg pack.
In a large bowl, measure and add golden syrup, vegetable/olive oil, alkaline water and vanilla extract. Stir with a spatula until well combined.
Next, add in sifted floor. Stir with a spatula until just combined. Don’t over knead the dough, as you will still be working on it later, and over kneading will result in a dry and tough dough. Wrap the dough in cling wrap and allow it to rest at room temperature for 2 hours (醒面).
While waiting for the dough to be ready, measure and weigh 35 grams paste of lotus paste and shape them into a ball (x 12). If you like melon seeds, add about 1-2 tsp per ball (flatten the lotus paste on your palm first before adding the melon seeds so that they are evenly distributed).
If you want salted egg yolk filling, get raw salted duck eggs. Remove egg white and rinse the yolk, coat them in sesame oil (about 1 tsp per 4 yolks) and steam for 5 minutes. For the mini mould used in this recipe, you only need half egg yolk per mooncake. Weigh halved egg yolk and lotus paste to form 35 grams. Wrap lotus paste around the yolk and shape into a ball.
After the waiting time of 2 hours, the dough is ready. Mix it with some flour (1/2 tbsp at a time) and knead until smooth.
Weigh and cut the dough to 15 grams pieces.
Here’s the fun part, making the mooncakes! Take a piece of dough, flatten it to a circle either by hand or a rolling pin. Place the lotus paste ball in the center of the mooncake skin. Hold the skin in one palm, use your other hand to to close the skin over the lotus paste in a circular, rotating motion. When this is done, shape mooncake into a ball by gently rolling it in both palms. Remember to dust your work surface, hands and rolling pin with flour to prevent sticking.
Dust the mooncake ball in flour. Press it firmly into the mooncake mould. Turn the mould over and give it a few taps to loosen the mooncake. Repeat until the dough is used up.
Place the mooncakes on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Spray the mooncakes with water (to prevent the skin from cracking during baking). Bake in preheated oven of 180 °C (356 °F) for 10 minutes.
Take out the tray and let it cool outside for 20 minutes. This is to prevent the skin from cracking due to expansion of the filling.
After 20 minutes, brush mooncakes with egg wash.
Return to oven and continue to bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown.
When the mooncakes have cooled down, store them in air-tight containers for 1-2 days before serving. This is to allow the skin to be soft and shiny by allowing the oil to slowly seep through the skin (回油).
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