Mooncakes are traditional Chinese pastries that are usually eaten during the Mid-Autumn Festival, which falls on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar. This year, the festival is on September 21st, which means it’s time to start making some delicious mooncakes!
Mooncakes are round or square and have a thin crust with a sweet filling, usually made from lotus seed paste or red bean paste. Some mooncakes also have salted egg yolks in the centre, which represent the moon. Mooncakes are considered a symbol of family reunion and happiness and are often given as gifts to relatives and friends during the festival.
Making mooncakes from scratch can be quite challenging and time-consuming, as it involves making the dough, the filling, the egg wash, and using a special mooncake mold to shape and imprint the mooncakes. However, there are some ways to simplify the process and make it faster and easier. Here are some tips and tricks on how to make mooncakes simply and quickly:
- Use ready-made filling. You can buy lotus seed paste or red bean paste from Asian grocery stores or online platforms. They usually come in cans or packages and have different flavors and textures. You can also add some nuts, dried fruits, or other ingredients to enhance the taste and variety of your filling.
- Use alkaline water and golden syrup for the dough. Alkaline water is also known as lye water or kansui, and it is a solution of potassium carbonate that helps to give the dough a soft and elastic texture. Golden syrup is a type of inverted sugar syrup that helps to give the dough a golden colour and a sweet flavour. You can buy alkaline water and golden syrup from Asian grocery stores or online platforms.
- Use a kitchen scale to measure the ingredients accurately. The ratio of the dough to the filling is very important for making mooncakes. If you use too much dough, the mooncakes will be too thick and dry. If you use too little dough, the mooncakes will be too thin and crack easily. A general rule of thumb is to use 1 part of dough to 3 parts of filling by weight. For example, if you use 20 grams of dough, you should use 60 grams of filling.
- Refrigerate the dough before shaping. After mixing the ingredients for the dough, you should cover it with cling wrap and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes. This will help the dough relax and become more elastic, which will make it easier to shape and wrap around the filling.
- Use a mooncake mold with a plunger. A mooncake mold is a tool that helps you shape and imprint your mooncakes with different patterns and designs. A mooncake mold with a plunger is easier to use than a traditional wooden mold, as it allows you to press out the mooncake without sticking or breaking. You can buy a mooncake mold with a plunger from Asian grocery stores or online platforms.
- Brush egg wash lightly and evenly. Egg wash is a mixture of egg yolk and egg white that helps to give your mooncakes a shiny and golden appearance. You should brush egg wash lightly and evenly on your mooncakes before baking them in the oven. You should also remove any excess egg wash trapped in the crevices of the pattern with a kitchen paper towel.
- Bake at low temperature for a longer time. The ideal temperature for baking mooncakes is between 160°C to 180°C (320°F to 350°F). If you bake at a higher temperature, your mooncakes will brown too quickly and crack easily. If you bake at a lower temperature, your mooncakes will not brown enough and have a pale colour. You should also bake your mooncakes for a longer time, about 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the size of your mooncakes.
By following these tips and tricks, you can make your own homemade mooncakes simply and quickly. You can also experiment with different fillings, flavours, colours, and patterns to create your own unique mooncakes. Enjoy your mooncakes with your family and friends, and celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival!