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Happy Mid-Autumn Festival to you! This is the time of the year when many bakeries, hotels, and restaurants will be promoting their own signature mooncake flavours. From traditional styled baked classic Cantonese mooncakes with lotus seed paste and salted egg yolks, to the soft and chewy ever-popular snow skin mooncakes with creative fillings such as cream cheese and Oreo, even to the healthy and light version of jelly mooncakes, and my low GI mooncake, businesses and bakers are getting more and more creative with their mooncake creations. In this recipe, I’m making the traditional classic Cantonese mooncakes with white lotus seed paste and double salted egg yolks. The flavours I’m accustomed to since I was little!
When is Mid-Autumn Festival
The Mid-Autumn festival or 中秋节 is an important Chinese festival that happens on every 15th day of the eighth Lunar month, and this day usually falls within September of the western calendar. On this day, the moon will be the brightest and fullest size, coinciding with harvest time in the middle of Autumn. Families and friends will take this opportunity to gather together and celebrate the festival by eating mooncakes, drinking tea and appreciating the bright round moon. Kids will carry lanterns of different shapes and colours, during the older days, our lanterns are all filled with candles so we have to be careful carrying it so as not to burn the lanterns.
The Mid-Autumn Festival was a time for people to enjoy the successful harvest of crops such as wheat and rice. Food offerings were made and offered to honour the moon.
The myth of the mooncake festival
The story of Chang’e flying to the moon is the most popular and a beautiful ancient myth about the Mid-Autumn festival. Chang’e is also known to many Chinese as the Moon Goddess of Immortality. The story goes this way: Chang’e is the wife of a hero named Hou Yi who was an expert in archery. One year, a big disaster happened to the people causing great harm, there were ten suns rising up to the sky together. To save the people, Hou Yi shot down nine suns, leaving one to provide sunlight to the crops. In appreciation of Hou Yi’s bravery, an immortal gave him the elixir of immortality. Chang’e got to know about it and swallowed the pill. Her body became so light that she floated to the sky and chose the moon as her residence, bringing along her bunny. The commoners treated her as a deity and often prayed to her with offerings.
What are Cantonese mooncakes
During the Mid-Autumn Festival, mooncakes are given as gifts and shared with loved ones. Mooncakes are a type of pastry, typically baked with a rich pastry crust, shortcrust pastry or flaky pastry crust. The fillings can vary from mung bean paste, lotus seed paste, custard, red bean paste, and etc. Very often, you will find salted egg yolk or nuts being added to the filling. However in Shanghai, the mooncakes are filled with savoury pork meat and highly prized by locals.
Cantonese mooncakes are baked pastries, filled with a rich sweet paste filling, wrapped with a thin glossy golden brown pastry crust. There are many mooncake moulds out there that helps produce beautifully crafted patterns.
Tips to making Cantonese mooncakes
- Rest the dough for about 30 minutes before wrapping the filling with it. This makes sure it doesn’t tear easily and yields a soft non-sticky dough.
- You can use either homemade paste or store bought paste for this recipe.
- The salted egg yolk can be very oily, you can dab off some of the oil with some baking paper while wrapping it with paste.
- Use a neutral flavoured cooking oil in the dough. You can use canola oil, peanut oil, seed oil. I wouldn’t recommend using olive oil as the flavour can be quite strong.
- The filling is not limited to using lotus seed paste. You can substitute with red bean paste, mung bean paste, or any other pastes you like.
- It might be tempting to want to savour the mooncakes immediately after baking but the best time to enjoy the mooncakes is 2-3 days after baking it. Allow the mooncakes enough time to develop the flavour fully by storing it in air tight containers for at least 2-3 days.
- These Cantonese mooncakes can be stored in the fridge in an air tight container for up to 2 weeks. The mooncakes will toughen once chilled, so do bring it to room temperature before serving.
Watch how to make mooncake on YouTube
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Classic Cantonese Mooncake with Double Yolk Lotus Seed Paste 双黄莲蓉广式月饼
- 150 g golden syrup
- ½ tsp lye water aka Kansui or 枧水
- 50 g neutral flavoured cooking oil such as canola oil, peanut oil, vegetable oil, sunflower oil
- 220 g plain flour or all-purpose flour
- 1-2 tbsp plain flour for dusting the mooncake mould
- 1 egg yolk room temperature, for egg wash
- 16 salted egg yolks
- 480 g white lotus seed paste store bought or homemade
- 1 tbsp Chinese wine
Cook the salted egg yolks
- Place the 16 salted egg yolks on a baking tray. Brush a thin layer of 1 tbsp Chinese wine over it. Note: If using a whole salted egg, remove the mud from the eggs and wash thoroughly. Then crack the egg to extract only the egg yolks.16 salted egg yolks, 1 tbsp Chinese wine
- Bake in pre-heat oven at 170C / 338F for about 12 minutes, until the sides of the egg yolks sizzle.Let the egg yolks cool completely.
Prepare the dough skin (yields 420g)
- In a large mixing bowl, mix 150 g golden syrup, 50 g neutral flavoured cooking oil and 1/2 tsp lye water until well-mixed and no separation of any liquid.150 g golden syrup, 1/2 tsp lye water, 50 g neutral flavoured cooking oil
- Add 220 g plain flour and use a spatula to mix the wet and dry ingredients together, until a rough dough is formed.220 g plain flour
- Then use your hand to manually knead the dough briefly to form a soft dough.
- Cover with cling wrap and rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.
- After resting, divide the dough into 50g-52.5g each.Note: rested dough should be soft and non-sticky.
Prepare the lotus seed paste and salted egg yolk fillings
- Divide 480 g white lotus seed paste into 60g each.480 g white lotus seed paste
- Roll each paste into a ball, then flatten. Add 2 salted egg yolks in the middle and cover the yolks with the paste as tightly as possible.Note: total weight should be about 90g-95g.
- Set aside until ready to use.
Assemble and bake the mooncakes
- Pre-heat oven to 180C/ 356F in a convection oven (upper & lower heating with no fan).
- Roll the dough ball, then flatten it thinly. Wrap the lotus seed paste and 2 salted egg yolks with the dough. Seal well to ensure no leakage.
- Coat the assembled mooncake with a thin layer of 1-2 tbsp plain flour.1-2 tbsp plain flour
- Place the mooncake into a mooncake mould. Place it downwards on the table or tray. Press it down a few times to form the shape and pattern. Then release the mould. Note: I'm using a 150g mooncake mould.
- Place all the mooncakes on a baking tray.Note: you can place baking paper on the baking tray but it's optional.
- Bake in pre-heat oven for 10 minutes, place the mooncakes on the middle rack.
- Meanwhile, crack egg to extract 1 egg yolk. Add in 1 tsp water and mix well. We will use this as the egg wash.1 egg yolk
- After 10 minutes of baking the mooncake, remove the mooncakes from the oven.Reduce the oven temperature to 160C / 320F.
- Use a brush to apply a thin layer of egg wash over the top and sides of the mooncakes. Note: make sure to swipe the brush bristols to remove excess egg wash from the brush, otherwise, too much egg wash will blur the mooncake patterns.
- Bake the mooncakes for another 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes of baking the mooncake, remove the mooncakes from the oven. Use a brush to apply a thin layer of egg wash over the top and sides of the mooncakes. Note: make sure to swipe the brush bristols to remove excess egg wash from the brush, otherwise, too much egg wash will blur the mooncake patterns.
- Bake the mooncakes for another 5-10 minutes until golden brown.
- Then remove the mooncakes from the oven. Let it cool for about 15 minutes, before transferring onto a cooling rack.
- Once the mooncakes are completely cooled, store in an air tight container. Note: storing at room temperature is fine.
- Let the flavour develop over the next 1-2 days before consumption. The mooncakes will be soft and delicious.