Saturday, October 13, 2012

Traditional Baked Mooncake

The annual Mooncake festival is here again. Time really flies. I remembered my first attempt at making the traditional baked mooncake last year. It was not really successful. The skin was too hard. I wanted to try again this year but was hesitant, partly due to the fact that it was in the midst of the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE). Anyway, I made the mooncake golden syrup two weeks ago first. It was advised that the longer you keep the mooncake syrup, the more flavourful your mooncake skin will turn out. If I did not make the mooncake this time, I can always keep it for next year.
Instead of cooking the lotus paste myself, I bought a packet of low sugar lotus paste from Phoon Huat. It is not cheap though, about $18.75 for a 1kg pack. My aim is to be successful in making baked mooncake skin. After deliberating on whether to make the mooncake, I finally made the plunge on the day after the Mooncake festival. I guess it's better late than never. And I did not regret doing it. It was successful this time. The dough was soft and pliable. I managed to roll the skin to be very thin. End result - a nice, thin, and soft layer of baked mooncake wrapping around a generous amount of lotus paste. The pattern on the mooncake was more distinct this time and the shape and colour were fabulous. I will definitely bake it again next year and let my relatives and friends sample. Next year's challenge - make the lotus paste myself.
I adapted the mooncake syrup and dough recipe from Food & Travel magazine and a Mooncake recipe book. For the mooncake syrup, I made it a point not to overcook the syrup. You want the syrup to be like runny honey when cooled. The one I made last year was so hard after cooling that I had difficulty mixing it with the flour and oil.

It is very easy to make the dough and the ingredients are simple - Hong Kong Pau flour, mooncake syrup, peanut oil and alkaline water. The purpose of the alkaline water is to neutralize the acidity of the mooncake syrup and to bring color to the baked mooncake.

Mooncake Golden Syrup

400g sugar
200g water
2 slices of lemon

  1. Mix the sugar and water together in a saucepan.
  2. Bring to boil over medium heat. Add in the lemon slices and bring to boil again.
  3. Reduce heat to low. Do not stir the mixture.
  4. When the sugar syrup turns amber in color and consistency is like runny honey, turn off the heat.
  5. Transfer the syrup to a clean glass jar and let it cool completely.
** Note **
When you put a drop of the syrup into a bowl of water, the syrup should not disperse.
It is best to keep the syrup for about 3 months before using it. The longer you keep the syrup, the better the color and lustre. The dough will taste better too.

Mooncake Dough

150g Hong Kong Pau flour
3/4 tsp alkaline water
90g mooncake syrup
80g peanut oil

600g lotus paste
Shape the lotus paste into balls of 150g each.

Egg yolk wash
Add 1 tsp of cold water to 1 egg yolk. Mix well.

Preheat oven to 180ºC.

  1. Add the alkaline water, mooncake syrup and peanut oil into a bowl.
  2. Mix well until smooth.
  3. Sift the flour into a stainless steel bowl. Move some of the flour out from the centre of the bowl to the side.
  4. Pour in the syrup-peanut oil mixture into the centre of the stainless steel bowl.
  5. Using a rubber or silicone spatula, gently knead the flour and syrup-peanut oil mixture into a smooth dough.
  6. Rest the dough for a minimum of 2 hours before using it. Wrap the dough with a cling wrap or cover the bowl containing the dough in a cling wrap.
  7. After the rest period, divide the dough into 4 pieces of about 45-50g each. Roll into a ball.
  8. Roll out the dough into a thin circular disc.
  9. Put a portion of lotus paste into the centre of the dough and wrap the dough around the lotus paste. Shape it into a round ball.
  10. Flour the wooden mooncake mould and shake off excess flour.
  11. Put the mooncake from Step 9 into the centre of the mould and press it down firmly.
  12. Gently knock the mould on all your sides.
  13. Flip the mould over and place the mooncake onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
  14. Repeat steps 8-13 for the other 3 portions.
  15. Bake for about 10 minutes. Remove from oven.
  16. Glaze the mooncake with the egg yolk wash. Rest for 5 minutes.
  17. Put it back to the oven and bake for another 5-10 minutes until golden brown.
  18. Remove from the oven and let it cool completely before storing in an air-tight container.
** Note **
Leave the baked mooncake for 1-2 days before consuming. You will notice that the color of the mooncake will turn darker with a shinier lustre. Skin will be softer.

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