Mid-Autumn Festival is also loosely known as Mooncake Festival, and boy do I have wonderful memories of it. I remember carrying lanterns around the neighborhood, and feeling upset when the wind blew and the flame of my candle would burn a hole in my lantern which rapidly grew causing the whole lantern to burst into flames. I also remember competing with my brothers to see who had the most long-lasting lantern. Nowadays, parents get those battery-operated lanterns for their kids, which is rather sad because I think battery operated lanterns are just not as fun. Anyway, because I came from a Chinese secondary school, Mooncake Festival was quite a big thing. Our school would hold a concert, and because we were all under 16 years old, I remember we had to get our parents’ permission to stay in school after 6pm. Our school also invited our parents for the celebration, and at 6pm, the celebration would start. After the principal’s opening speech, the Chinese Orchestra would play, then the Chinese dancers would dance a traditional dance, with rabbits and all. I remember some Chinese drama group performance as well. And the highlight of the night would definitely be the moon cake eating. Our chool would ask each class to donate a few boxes of moon cakes, and these would be laid out on a long row of tables at the back of our quadrangle, all sliced and ready to be shared. At the same time, tea would be served, and together with 猜燈謎 games, literally lantern riddles in which prizes were awarded, the students would run off to play with lanterns and sparklers. It was probably the only time when we could roam about our school campus in the dark. Many a teenage secret was shared as friends strolled around in groups, carrying lanterns or sparklers.
Back to way way back, when I still found joy in carrying paper lanterns around the neighborhood, I would rather have the pale green snow skin moon cake instead of the brown baked moon cake. As far as I can remember, I’ve never liked baked moon cakes. I’ve always like the cool snow skin moon cakes, and every year without fail, my mom would get a pandan flavored green snow skin moon cake for me. I also remember not liking the salted egg yolks when I was younger, but as I get older, my taste preferences lean towards the salty, and I find myself liking moon cakes with 1-2 egg yolks in them. Not 4 though, that’s too little lotus filling for me =p So this year, seeing that moon cakes have increased in prices, I decided that it was high time I made some of my own. My mom has her own moon cake mould, so why not use it? In both Malaysia and Singapore, the baking supplies shops bring out their cooked glutinous rice flour packets and out comes the lotus paste, red bean paste, and various other flavored lotus pastes. I simply got myself a packet of koh fun and lotus paste and I was set!
My recipe is more of a suggested recipe as compared to a proper recipe with fixed numbers because I made a combination of small and large moon cakes. All you need to remember is the golden ratio is 1:2, 1 part of skin to 2 parts of filling, and if you stay within this ratio, you shouldn’t go wrong.
- Sift the koh fun and icing sugar in a mixing bowl. Gently rub the shortening into the flour mixture, combining until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs. Mix in the cold water and knead until a soft dough forms. If you wish to add in food coloring, add it in together with the cold water. Let the dough rest for at least 30 minutes before using.
- After rested, divide the dough into balls of equal weight.
- In the meantime, add the melon seeds to the lotus paste and mix evenly. Divide the lotus paste into balls of equal weight.
- To make the moon cake, lightly dust your hands and the mould with the koh fun. Flatten the ball of snow skin until you get a rough circle. Place the ball of filling in the centre of the dough and seal the ball with your snow skin. Make sure that there is no air trapped between the dough and filling and seal the edges tightly. Put the ball seam-side up into the floured mould and pack it in gently. Then, rap it against the counter on all sides so that the moon cake falls out nicely. Chill for at least 6 hours before consuming.
- Notes: Please note that you CANNOT substitute shortening for butter. It doesn’t work. Believe me I’ve tried. Also, if you wish to get multi colored moon cakes like those above, simply apportion your doughs and color them separately. Then, flatten each colored dough into a rectangular sheet and place the doughs one on top of the other. Proceed to roll up them, swiss roll style. Next, cut off a part of the dough, making sure that it fits your mould Proceed to then flatten the part of the dough into a round circle and proceed as per step 4 above. You will get swirls of color. Like in the 2 multicolored moon cakes above, the one of the left had more yellow than pink and one on the right had more pink than yellow. It’s all a matter of preference really. The white ones are the original color.
- Taste: I’m not a particular fan of fancy fillings, and I particularly love white lotus paste, so this was perfect. I also don’t have a very sweet tooth, so I chose the low-sugar option. The end result was fantastic, in my opinion.
- Texture: Although this texture certainly does not beat the smooth texture that you might get for commercial moon cakes, I find it pretty okay and I like the smooth lotus paste which I got from Malaysia. I liked that I could add as much melon seeds as I wanted to the lotus paste to give it that contrast to the smooth paste.
- Serving size: Each mini moon cake is about 2-3 bites worth, which is just lovely. And not to mention that buying the ingredients for the moon cakes cost me less than RM25 (S$12), and I got so many moon cakes. Definitely something to consider for the future!
- Storage: The moon cakes store quite well in the fridge. Be sure to keep them in an airtight container and make sure they don’t stick to one another. Mine lasted for about a week before they were gone!
- Would I make this again?: This is the definitely the cheaper and better way – and what else is better than knowing what goes into what you are eating?
|Another close up of the first photo :]|
|Same photo, but I decided to use a film effect to emulate the ‘shining moon’ hanging in the dark sky. Not too successful with that huh? ;p|
Anyway, I am submitting this to Aspiring Bakers #11: Mid-Autumn Treats (September 2011), hosted by Happy Home Baking. Have a great Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋節) everyone – may your moon cakes be yummy and your lanterns shine brightly 😀