I LOVE mooncakes. Every autumn (until this one) I track them down from my favorite Chinese bakery in New York City (Fay Da). Well, this year with.. everything.. I’m not making unnecessary trips to track down baked goods, so I figured I’d give them a try myself.
For the distinctive shape of the mooncakes, I knew I needed a press, so I hit Amazon. I didn’t spend a lot of time researching or anything, I pretty much looked for the one that would come quickest. I ended up with this set. They worked fine, albeit a little fidgety to swap the plates on the presses. I like that it comes with both round and square in both regular and mini sizes. I ended up making all minis this time around, but I suspect I would have had an easier time forming and pressing them if I went full size.
Let me start with the finished product before this post gets boring..
Besides the mold, I needed a few ingredients that were a bit foreign to me (no pun intended). I needed lotus paste.. I decided to just make my own, so I got dried lotus seeds from an Asian supermarket. Looking for them was funny because I had no idea what they looked like, and they weren’t what I expected at all. (They are in the dish in the photo above) I also needed Golden Syrup, which isn’t super foreign to me, but I usually just use corn syrup when it’s called for. Since I had never made this before I wasn’t sure how important actual golden syrup was to the recipe, so I got some. The other ingredient that really threw me was ‘Lye Water’ since I really only know lye as drain cleaner.. and poison. Sure enough, the Asian supermarket had that as well, so I got some. Most recipes also call for salted egg yolks to put in the center. I don’t mind them, and will usually get a mix of with and without egg when I buy them, but I knew my wife would hate it, so I left out the eggs.
I basically followed this recipe from Taste of Asian Food. The few differences, I noted.. No egg, I made lotus seed paste, and honestly I found their directions on amount of dough and paste difficult to follow, so I just experimented a bit to find what worked. I also haven’t seen cake flour in months, so I made my own, which is basically just add a bit of cornstarch to AP flour.
As you can see from the cross-section above, my mooncakes shape could use some work. I didn’t find the dough to be very easily workable. And once I had a ball of lotus more or less covered in dough I had to shove it into the mold, so the mooncakes ended up not super even. They worked though, and tasted great.
Would I make them again? Definitely. Will I buy them from the bakery next year assuming the world is back to normal? Definitely. 🙂