Homemade mooncakes by Helen of Cook in Shanghai
Monday is the Mid-Autumn Festival, so we asked Helen from Cook In Shanghai to teach us how to make homemade mooncakes. Now, most people just buy mooncakes in the store, but we wanted some flavors they don't stock at the local supermarket -- flavors like bacon and cheddar, peanut butter and Nutella, and dried strawberry with almond and chocolate.
Pictured here is all you will need: Low-gluten flour (低筋面粉，dī jīn miànfěn), corn or sunflower oil (玉米油/葵花籽油, Yùmǐ yóu/ Kuíhuā zǐ yóu), Lyle's golden syrup (糖浆，tángjiāng…check the wet market or get it from the Avocado Lady), grams alkaline water (碱性水, jiǎn xìng shuǐ), a plastic bag, one egg (鸡蛋, Jīdàn), and some filling. Harder fillings work better.
You'll also need mooncake molds (月饼模子，Yuèbǐng múzi) or cookie cutter. And an oven.
In a mixing bowl, add the oil into the flour and stir.
Add that syrup in the mix and keep stirring...
Use chopsticks or a spoon to mix that up real nice...
You just need 1.25 grams of alkaline, but without this crucial ingredient your cakes will not cake.
Put the dough in a plastic bag and keep kneading it until it's smooth and even. Then set the dough aside for 1–3 hours. You could go shorter, but making the cakes will be harder.
After you let your dough sit, break off between 12–15 grams and roll it into a ball.
Press the ball flat in the palm of your hand. Do this slowly and delicately until the dough is completely flat and even.
Here comes the hard part. Be delicate, otherwise the dough will break. Add 2 to 5 grams of filling to the middle of the flattened dough then start to work the dough around the filling.
Keep working that dough around the filling. The skin should remain flat and evenly dispersed. If you get some little holes, just patch those up with some extra dough.
Keep working the dough...slowly...delicately...until the filling is completely covered. Then you can roll the ball around in your hand until it's perfectly round.
Sprinkle some flour into the mold to make sure your cake doesn't get stuck in there.
Doesn't even know he's about to become a cake...Slowly put the mould over the ball.
Press down on the mold and boom, now you've got a raw mooncake.
Look at that. Looks like a Tang Dynasty artifact. I think they just sold one of these for 38 million rmb to some guy who owns a museum.
Ok here is the old school method for making the cakes. This is how Grandma Zhou did it back in the day. You could also do this with a cookie mold. If you're not using this method, maybe just skip ahead to the baking part.
Again, you'll want to prep the mold by brushing a little oil in there and sprinkling some flour on top.
So here's the difference -- in the old school method, you make the base first, then add the filling, then cover up the top. This is easier than the ball method. Again, flatten a 15 gram dough ball, then use a bit more than half of that to cover the sides and bottom of the mold.
Again, add 2-5 grams of filling into the middle. Here we used Nutella, dried strawberries, and almond slices.
With the remaining dough (from your 15 grams), spread another flat piece over the top and knead the edges together.
If any bits of dough are hanging over the edges, cut them off.
This is actually a little difficult. Hopefully you lubed up the mold with plenty of oil and flour. Just beat the mold against the table until the cake falls out.
Yeah look at that. That's poetry.
Preheat your oven to 150 degrees Celsius, oil up a baking sheet, and get those cakes lined up. Put them in the oven for ten minutes.
While you're waiting, separate the yolk from an egg and whisk that up with some chopsticks. In a moment, we'll brush the cakes with that yolk so they look nice and shiny.
Looking good. Let's make them look even better.
Hmmm, that cake in front looks like The Secret of The Ooze. That one can't be saved, but let's brush the others with the egg yolk then throw these back in the oven for ten more minutes.
Boom, look at those cakes. Way cooler than anything you'll find at expensive ice cream shops or five-star hotels. Give one to Ayi, give one to Grandma Zhou, give one to your Bao'an, and save one for the rabbit on the moon making Chinese medicine.
If you don't want to do this in your own house, Cook In Shanghai has a Mooncake making party on Monday, September 8. More info about that here.
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