Monday, 17 September 2012

Mooncake Making Lessons


As Mid-Autumn Festival draws near,  there are many Mooncake making classes taking place. Although I am not a huge fan of Mooncakes, I attended a class to learn how to make them so that when I get good at it, I can give them away as gifts!
The moon cake, also called “walnut cake”, “palace cake”, “small cake”, “moon pastry” and “reunion cake” etc, is a special pastry eaten on traditional Chinese Mid-autumn Festival. The annual festival custom of a whole family getting together, eating moon cakes and enjoying the moon dates back thousands of years. The moon cake first appeared in ancient times as an offering to the moon. At that time, emperors would pay homage to the sun in spring and to the moon in autumn. It was also a custom for the general public to worship or pay homage to the moon in mid autumn in every lunar August. The age-old custom was handed down to later generations and eating moon cakes at the Mid-autumn Festival has become an inseparable part of the celebrations.
The first recipe demonstrated by the instructor was the Peach and Lavender Snowskin with Lemon Cranberry Paste. 
It took me a while to get used to shaping the Snowskin dough as it is soft and elastic. I was desperately trying to smooth out the creases so that they do not show up when the Mooncakes are shaped.



There were two lovely ladies sharing the work table with me who are more experienced than me and they helped me along. My first try was not perfect but still presentable. If I do eat Mooncakes, I would normally choose the Snowskin type. I enjoyed this one as the filling, which consists of cranberries, lemon and citron mixed with green bean paste, was refreshing and zesty. The peach and lavender puree coloured the Snowskin dough with a sweet and pretty pink.
The second Mooncake I did in the class was the Shanghai Cheese Mooncake with Lotus Paste and Melon Topping. This type of Mooncake has a buttery and crumbly crust. I am not a lotus paste fan, but I really enjoyed the melt-in-the-mouth crust and melon seeds. This Mooncake is easier to make than the Snowskin as the dough skin is very much like the biscuit dough and easier to handle.
Peach and Lavender Snowskin with Lemon Cranberry Paste (14 small mooncakes)  
Both recipes from Phoon Huat
Snowskin Dough
  • Kou Fen (Ready-made Cooked Glutinous Rice Flour) 60 g
  • Cooked Hong Kong Flour (stir fry dry for 5 mins) 30 g
  • Ruby Peach and Lavender Puree 120 g (available at baking supply shops)
  • Shortening 30 g
  • Icing sugar 50 g
  • Corn flour 1.5 tbsp
Filling
  • Green Bean Paste 280 g
  • Dried Cranberries 50 g
  • Lemon Zest 1 tbsp
  • Citron Tea 2 tbsp
Method
1. Mix Kou Fen, Hong Kong flour, corn flour, icing sugar and shortening together in a big bowl. Pour in peach and lavender puree and form a dough.
2. Knead the dough till it is smooth and elastic. It needs to be smooth when you press down to flatten it. Wrap the dough in cling wrap and let it rest for at least ten minutes or till you use it.
3. Put all the ingredients for the filling (cranberries, lemon zest, green beat paste and citron) in a bowl and mix well. Refrigerate till it hardens slightly. Shape into balls of 25 g each.
4. Divide the snowskin dough into pieces of 20 g each and flatten each one using your hand till it is thin and elastic.
5. Divide the dough into pieces of 19-20g each. Flatten the piece of dough and make sure it is as thin and elastic as possible.
6. Wrap a ball of filling into flattened dough and pinch to close the edges.
7. Coat a little Kou Fen on your hand, and roll the ball gently till the creases are smoothed out (as much as possible).
8. Place the Mooncake ball into the Mooncake mould with the side showing the creases  facing up. Gently press it into the mould to form the shape. Unmould carefully by turning the mould upside down to dislodge the Mooncake.
Shanghai Cheese Mooncake with Lotus Paste and Melon Topping (9 servings)
Mooncake Skin
  • Parmesan Cheese Powder 20 g
  • Plain Flour 150 g
  • Egg Yolk 1
  • Fine sugar 25 g
  • Full cream milk powder 1 tbsp
  • Water 1 tbsp
  • Salted butter 125 g
Filling
  • Lotus Paste 250 g
  • White Sesame Seeds 20 g
1. Mix the butter and sugar together by hand till it is blended. Mix the egg yolk and water together, and add it into the butter mixture.
2. Combine the cheese, plain flour and milk powder. Mix it into the above mixture. Roll the dough into balls of 35-36 g each.
3. Mix the filling ingredients (lotus paste and sesame seeds) together and roll into balls of 30 g each.
4. Take one ball of Mooncake skin dough and flatten it into a circle.
5. Place one ball of lotus paste filling inside and seal the edges.
6. Using some plain flour, roll the ball gently between your palms to smoothen it.
7. Brush it with egg wash and top with melon seeds. Bake at 180 degrees C for 20 mins till brown.

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