On Sunday, I spent a fun couple of hours at Penny’s house with Anh, Celeste and Anna, making mooncakes. Mooncakes are Chinese pastries that are normally eaten during the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival. They’re very sweet, and high in calories, plus they’re relatively expensive per cake (I think a box of four here, depending on the quality, sells for ~$20-$25. But you’re not supposed to eat a whole one by yourself at one go – I wouldn’t eat more than 1/4 at a time.)
The Mid-Autumn Festival is held on the 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese calendar, and it’s meant to be when the moon is at its maximum brightness for the entire year. (The Chinese calendar is a lunar calendar, with the months following the cycles of the moon.) The Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated in many Asian countries – such as China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and the Phillippines, and this year it’s officially today! Happy Mid-Autumn/Moon Festival!
You can get all different variations of mooncakes, but I prefer the traditional ones with a thin baked skin that have a filling of sweet lotus paste and salted egg. For me, they MUST have a salted egg yolk – it’s the best part of the mooncake! You can get mooncakes with several egg yolks – the more the better! The salted egg yolks are quite rich, and only a little bit salty, and they’re meant to symbolise the moon.
Anh had spent quite some time practicing mooncake making before our session, so she was able to pass on her knowledge – thanks Anh! Not many people make their own mooncakes nowadays, because it’s a rather involved process. For the recipe for baked mooncakes, check out Anh’s blog.
My contribution to the day was the salted eggs. I prepared the egg yolks beforehand – which basically just involved soaking raw chicken eggs in a brine a month before our moon cake making session. I also purchased three salted duck eggs from an Asian supermarket because I didn’t salt enough chicken eggs. On the day, I separated the egg whites and the egg yolks, and steamed the yolks. After a month of sitting in the salt water, the yolks had transformed and were bright orange, round and firm. (I didn’t discard the egg whites as they can be eaten too, though they are VERY salty. I’m going to cook them up in some dishes.)
Anh had prepared the mooncake skin the night before. It’s made from golden syrup, oil, lye water, flour and baking soda. A couple of the others had brought along pre-prepared lotus paste, and mooncake moulds. We were ready for some mooncaking!
Anh said that the ratio of skin to filling should be around 1:2, and the amount of skin and filling needed depends on the size of the mould. Unfortunately, none of the moulds said how much would fit into them, so there was some trial and error involved.
We ended up using 150g of filling, and 50g of skin. First we weighed the yolk, and then added enough lotus seed paste to make 150g.
Next, we weighed out 50g of skin.
The lotus seed paste was flattened out, with the egg yolk placed in the middle. Then it was rolled up into a ball.
The skin was then flattened out and placed around the lotus seed paste. There was a bit of working around and fiddling about to make sure it completely enveloped the filling.
We put a bit of flour on the mooncake ball, and into the mould. Then the mooncake went into the mould, where it was pressed down.
After which it was pressed out – and hey presto! A mooncake!
We had enough egg yolks for us all to try making one. After they were all made, they were baked in the oven for about ten minutes, allowed to cool for thirty minutes, and then brushed with eggwash and baked for another ten minutes. Unfortunately, since they need to sit for a couple of days before they can be eaten, I don’t know how they taste! I’m sure they’re good though, with the yolk being the best part. 😉
Anh also taught us how to make snow skin versions. The skin for these ones are made from fried glutinous flour, icing sugar, shortening, and water.
She added pandan extract to half of the skin, so they would be two toned. Check out the recipe on her blog.
The snow skin versions don’t need to be baked – after they’re made, they need a bit of chilling time, and then they can be eaten.
We made smaller versions for these ones, and used a ratio of 1:1 for the skin and filling. We had 25g of lotus seed paste for the filling, and 25g for the skin (a combination of both the green and white).
They were then prepared in pretty much the same way as the baked versions, except without the egg yolk.
A ball of lotus paste was placed into the skin.
It all went into the mini mould.
And voila! Two toned snow skin mooncakes! Aren’t they just gorgeous?
Thanks again to Anh for teaching us how to make mooncakes and thanks to Penny for hosting. It was great fun, and even though I don’t think I’ll be making them myself next year, it was great to find out how they’re made.
In other news, Alastair and I are on holiday as of TONIGHT. We are going to the UK and stopping by Singapore on the way back. But don’t worry! I have posts scheduled to go up while we’re away, though replies to comments may be slower than usual until we get back in three weeks time.
Stay safe, and eat well!