Make this easy mooncake recipe with about 1000 calories per piece, so you will be able to enjoy its delicious taste and texture when you can’t buy them where you live.
This year (2015) the Chinese population will celebrate the Mooncake Festival on september 27th. This yearly festival takes place on the 15th day of the Eight Lunar Month in the Chinese calendar and is therefore also known as the Mid-Autumn festival.
Traditionally, children come out to play with lanterns and mooncakes are exchanged like these cute ones given to us by our Chinese neighbour 10 years ago:
We woke up today and got a text message from our neighbour saying that "there are some piggies hanging on your fence". Turns out that these "piggies" were mooncakes shaped as a pig. Traditionally however, mooncakes are simply flat, 4 inch (2 cm) broad cylindrical pastries (kind of like an ice hockey disk).
Depending on the filling, they tend to be extremely delicious (these ones were sweet, with a little touch of lard and peanuts), what explains why half of the cake was already gone by the time I had taken my camera out.
What is the Chinese mooncake festival all about?
At this time of the Chinese lunar year, the moon is at its fullest and brightest: an ideal time to celebrate the abundance of the summer’s harvest. It is the most important Chinese lunar calendar day after the Chinese lunar new Year.
Since the moon is celebrated, it is common to have roasted pig barbecues after sunset, accompanied by exchanging mooncakes and pomelos: a green citrus fruit that looks like a humongous grapefruit, but with a less pronounced taste.
Since the landing on the moon by the Americans, much of the cultural significance of the mooncake festival has disappeared… During the first landing on the moon in 1969, no camera captured "Chang-Er": the Chinese goddess of immortality who supposedly lived on the moon , nor "Wu Gang": the woodcutter who was banished to the moon and became Chang-Er‘s friend and servant. Wu Gang was punished "to cut down a cassia tree", which is an impossible task that can never be completed: the cassia tree is immortal and will grow back each time it is felled.
Never mind that Neil Armstrong has landed on the moon and has “spoilt” these ancient beliefs, the Chinese still celebrate it year after year.
What is a mooncake?
Mooncakes are sweet confectionary and are shaped like the moon: round 🙂 .
Inside the mooncakes there are sweet fillings and over the years, new flavors have emerged and as such, you can get a wide variety of different mooncakes to give to your family members and friends.
Children will walk around the neighborhood with their lanterns. The lanterns come in all shapes and sizes. Some of them resemble animals and others are just plain lanterns. The adults sit around drinking tea with a piece of cake, and if they catch the reflection of the moon in their tea, that would be the perfect moment for them.
Old Chinese ceremony scripts mention that it was the task of the emperor to make special offerings to the sun in spring and to the moon in autumn. Mooncakes where part of these offerings.
Legend has it that during Chinese history, messages where hidden in or written on mooncakes: the message was delivered, read and then eaten as to erase all evidence of the secret message.
Easy mooncake recipe and ingredients
This recipe makes 15 lotus paste mooncakes
How to make the lotus seed paste
- 21 ounce (600gr) lotus seed
- 1 teaspoon alkaline water
- 21 ounce (600gr) sugar
- 1 tablespoon maltose
- 14 ounce (400g) groundnut oil
- Cover lotus seeds with boiling water and add alkaline water. Cover container for 20 minutes. Rub the skin off the lotus seeds, then drain and wash them in clean water.
- Cover the seeds again with water and boil until soft. Blend seeds into a paste.
- In a non-stick wok or saucepan, heat up half of the oil with half of the sugar and cook until mixture turns into the color of golden caramel.
- Pour in lotus paste and continue stirring. Add the remaining oil and sugar. Cook until the paste thickens and doesn’t stick to the sides of the wok or pan. Add maltose and stir for a while.
- To test if the paste is ready, scoop a little into your hand and flatten it. If it doesn’t feel sticky, the paste is ready. Dish out the paste and leave to cool.
How to make the syrup
- 21 ounce (600gr) sugar
- 13.6 fluid ounce (400ml) water
- 3 slices lemon
- Put sugar, water and lemon slices into a saucepan. Boil over a slow fire until golden brown. Discard the lemon slices.
- Cool sufficiently before use.
How to make the skin
- 21 ounce (600gr) flour
- 21 ounce (600gr) syrup
- 4 + 3/4 fluid ounce (140ml) groundnut oil
- 1 teaspoon alkaline water
- Mix flour, syrup, oil and alkaline water and knead until elastic.
- Set aside for three hours.
- Divide the dough into 15 equal portions.
How to make mooncake
- Take a portion of the dough and roll into a thin circular piece. Take a 5+1/4 oz (150gr) ball of lotus paste and wrap with the mooncake skin.
- Dust a mooncake mould with flour. Press the dough with filling into the mould. Tap lightly to de-mould.
- Grease baking tray and bake cakes in oven at 425 °F (220 °C) for about 20 to 30 minutes.
- For a glossy shine, bake your mooncakes for about 10 minutes, then brush them with egg wash and continue to bake until golden brown.