Mid-Autumn Festival

11 September, 2008 at 11:06 pm | Posted in » Recipes, » Yummy Cakes | 1 Comment
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The Mid-Autumn festival, also known as the Mooncake or Moon festival, falls on September 14th this year.

Every year on the fifteenth day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar, when the moon is at its maximum brightness for the entire year, the Chinese celebrate ‘zhong qiu jie’. Children are told the story of the moon fairy living in a crystal palace, who comes out to dance on the moon’s shadowed surface. The legend surrounding the ‘lady living in the moon’ dates back to ancient times, to a day when ten suns appeared at once in the sky. The Emperor ordered a famous archer to shoot down the nine extra suns. Once the task was accomplished, Goddess of Western Heaven rewarded the archer with a pill that would make him immortal. However, his wife found the pill, took it, and was banished to the moon as a result. Legend says that her beauty is greatest on the day of the Moon festival.

Other Moon Festival Legends
According to another legend, on this day the ‘Man in the Moon’ was spotted at an inn, carrying a writing tablet. When questioned, he said he was recording the names of all the happy couples who were fated to marry and live happily forever after. Accordingly, just as June is the traditional month for exchanging nuptials in the west, many Chinese weddings are held during the eighth lunar month, with the fifteenth day being the most popular.

Of course, the most famous legend surrounding the Moon festival concerns its possible role in Chinese history. Overrun by the Mongols in the thirteenth century, the Chinese threw off their oppressors in 1368 AD. It is said that mooncakes – which the Mongols did not eat – were the perfect vehicle for hiding and passing along plans for the rebellion. Families were instructed not to eat the mooncakes until the day of the moon festival, which is when the rebellion took place.

How to Celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival
Today, Chinese people celebrate the Mid-Autumn festival with dances, feasting and moon gazing. Not to mention mooncakes. While baked goods are a common feature at most Chinese celebrations, mooncakes are inextricably linked with the Moon festival. One type of traditional mooncake is filled with lotus seed paste. Roughly the size of a human palm, these mooncakes are quite filling, meant to be cut diagonally in quarters and passed around. The salty yolk in the middle, representing the full moon, is an acquired taste.

More elaborate versions of mooncakes contain four egg yolks, which representing the four phases of the moon. Besides lotus seed paste, other traditional fillings include red bean paste and black bean paste.

While in the past mooncakes took up to four weeks to make, automation has speed up the process considerably. Today, mooncakes may be filled with everything from dates, nuts, and fruit to Chinese sausages. More exotic creations include green tea mooncakes, and ping pei or snowskin mooncakes, a Southeast Asian variation made with cooked glutinous rice flour. There is even a line of ice cream mooncakes.

This year is my 1st attempt to make both the traditional and snow skin mooncake.

Traditional Mooncake

Ingredients:
Make about 23 mini Mooncakes

Mooncake Pastry
350 grams – 400 grams Hong Kong Flour
230 grams sugar syrup
110 ml oil
1 Tablespoon alkaline water

Mooncake Filling
500 – 600 grams ready made white lotus paste (or any other flavour paste)
some melon seeds
some salted egg yolks, cooked and halved

Galze
1 egg, beaten

Method:

1. In a mixing bowl, mix together the sugar syrup, oil and alkaline water. Leave aside for at least 1 hour.
2. Add in the flour and mix well until the mixture is not sticky. Add in more flour if the mixture is running.
3. Mix together the ready made paste and melon. Divide into 45 grams each.
4. Wrap a egg yolk in the center of each paste and roll into a ball.
5. Divide the pastry skin into 30 grams each. Wrap the paste ball into the pastry skin. Press into mould.
6. Line a baking tray with baking paper and bake with top grill for about 5 mins.
7. Adjust the oven to top and bottom heat at 375 deg F. Brush the mooncake surface with egg wash. Bake for another 15-20 mins until golden brown.
8. Cool at room temperature.

Note: Traditional Mooncakes are best eaten 1-2 days after making. Mooncakes can be stored in air-tight containers up to 3 days after making, after that put in the fridge.

Snow Skin Mooncake

Ingredients:
Make about 18 Mini Mooncakes

Snow Skin Pastry
1 package (500 grams) snow skin premix
100 grams shortening
230 grams water
a few drops of flavored food color (I divide into 3 portion, 1 for green tea flavour, 1 for yam flavour, 1 for pandan flavour)

Mooncake Filling
500 grams ready made white lotus paste (or any other flavour paste)
some melon seeds
some salted egg yolks,
cooked and halved

Method:

1. Mix the water and the premix together.
2. Add in shortening and food color.
3. Leave aside for about 15 mins – 1 hour.
4. Mix together the ready made paste and the melon seeds. Divide into 45 grams each.
5. Wrap a egg yolk in the center of each paste and roll into a ball.
6. Divide the snow skin pastry into 35 grams each. Wrap the paste ball into the snow skin. Press into mould.
7. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

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1 Comment »

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  1. Your mooncakes look great! Great job on your first year making them, the photos are delicious. I would love to feature them on the demy, the first and only digital recipe reader. Please email sophiekiblogger@gmail.com if you’re interested. Thanks! :)


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