September 18, 2011

Lotus Paste Double Yolk Mooncake 雙黃白蓮蓉月餅

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By Published: 2011-09-18 
 Every once in a while I veer off the path of sanity and attempt the uncharted, the dangerous, the unsurmountable.  All in the name of good food, of course.  This time it was mooncakes or 雙黃白蓮蓉月餅, Chinese mooncakes for the Mid Autumn Festival, 中秋節.  

I decided that this year I would attempt to make my own mooncakes despite never having made them by hand before and, actually now that I think about it, never having eaten homemade mooncake ever in my life.  But once the delectable thought entered my mind, who was I to resist?

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We first looked for the mooncake mold or 餅印, a hand carved wood mold specifically for mooncakes.  We found it in, of all places, our local ten dollar shop/household goods store.  If you're not lucky like us, I'm sure that you could find plenty in the kitchen stores along Shanghai Street 上海街 in Yau Ma Tei, Kowloon.  That's where we were going to go except that we found what we needed in our neighborhood.  

There are all kinds of carved patterns, really lovely handcrafted stuff.  We bought the regular size one, as opposed to the small one, and, once home, placed it prominently on the mantle where we could admire it in all its glory.

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White Lotus Seeds 蓮子

Then we foraged for all the the raw materials for 雙黃白蓮蓉月餅, or Lotus Paste Double Yolk  Mooncake, which is the most popular of all the traditional style mooncakes.  Some ingredients took a little bit of looking/finding.  

We found most of it at the wet markets and one traditional item, lard , was finally found at, of all places, Citysuper, a fancy grocery store in the high end mall IFC.  We could have just made some homemade lard but were too lazy.  We wanted to use lard because traditionally lard was always used for mooncakes, for the smoothness and for the extra flavor.  Most times nowadays some kind of oil is substituted.  

For the lotus seed paste filling, we looked for white lotus seeds , which are skinless, to get that golden hue.  Cook the lotus seeds with our special easy method and you'll get lusciously creamy smooth lotus seed paste in no time at all.  

We located and purchased the infamous lye water or 鹼水 at our wet market noodle vendor.  The salted duck eggs or 鹹蛋 we bought also at the wet market. (Check out how to make your own Salted Duck Eggs!)  The syrup for the dough was cooked.  The dough was mixed, kneaded and rested.  

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Salted Duck Egg 鹹蛋

chinese, dessert, double yolk, festival cake, how to make mooncake, lotus paste, mid autumn festival, moon cake, recipe, salted egg yolk, 雙黃白蓮蓉月餅
Salted Duck Egg Yolk  鹹蛋

Finally, after two hot days of cooking, peeling, stirring, steaming, mixing, kneading, pounding, and poking away in the kitchen, after two almost major disasters in the kitchen: lotus seeds barely saved from burning, sugar seizing to rock hardness; I was at long last ready to actually make the mooncakes!  

The dough was rolled and wrapped thinly around a ball of lotus seed paste that in turn enclosed double spheres of vivid orange yolk (double the luck!), pinched closed and patted back into roundness.  Careful, careful!  The ball was dropped into the waiting wood mold and pressed down firmly.  There, it was all in!

Update: Check out our easy mooncake wrapping 'cheat', perfect for wrapping the mooncake with a thin, even skin!

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Now for the hardest part. The mooncake mold was to be flipped over and banged with a certain deft touch onto the working surface. The prettily molded mooncake was then suppose to fall out in one gorgeous mooncake shaped piece onto the table.  

So, taking a deep breath, I banged...  Oh, the beat of my heart!  Nothing happened.  I banged again and finally could see the mooncake drooping a bit.  I quickly banged a few more times (in a panic, I'll admit) and then, pop!, there she finally was, as beautiful as a new born babe.

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This one moment of creation, of making this really beautiful thing with my own two hands, more than made up for the two days of sweat and effort.  If there is any reason to attempt a daunting task like this, this must be it: to be able to create an object coming from hundreds of years of tradition and to understand for the briefest moment all of it. 

Or, on the other hand, maybe I'm just plain crazy.

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Double Yolk White Lotus Paste Mooncake Recipe 雙黃白蓮蓉月餅
(Makes 8 cakes) (Prep time: 3 hrs 30 mins Cook time: 30 mins)

Ingredients
  • 16 salted duck eggs, 鹹蛋
  • 800g lotus seed paste (see our recipe here for homemade lotus seed paste, you will need to double it)

   Syrup for Dough (or you can buy premade Golden Syrup)
  • 3/4 cup sugar (156g)
  • 1/2 cup water (177 ml)
  • 1 lemon slice

   Mooncake Skin Dough
  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour (156g)
  • 6 tbsp Syrup for Dough (127g) (or use Golden Syrup)
  • 2.5 tbsp lard or peanut oil (34g)
  • 1/2 tsp lye water 鹼水
  • 1 egg, lightly whisked

Directions:

Making the Lotus Paste:  Make the lotus seed paste according to our easy and guaranteed creamy smooth lotus seed paste recipe.  For use in these mooncakes double the amount of oil used to make the lotus seed paste.  The final mix should be more moist and oily, the reason being that the mooncake skin actually absorbs alot of the oil during the 油, or mooncake 'resting' phase.  More explanation on this later.

Preparing the Salted Duck Eggs:  Carefully rinse the ash off the salted duck eggs.  Prepare a large bowl for catching the egg white and a smaller shallow bowl for catching the yolks.  Crack the eggs into the large bowl.  After cracking the egg, you will see that the yolk is in a semi-solid state.  Just pick yolk out, rinse lightly under water just to get off any egg white sticking on and place into your smaller shallow bowl.  Dry off lightly with paper towel.

Making the Syrup for Dough:  Add the water, sugar and lemon to a small pot and stir til combined. Over a low fire, stir the sugar until it starts to boil.  If any sugar is sticking to the side of the pot, use a wet brush to wash down.  Once mix boils, don't stir any more.  Simmer at low heat for 30 mins or longer until it reaches 236°F (114°C) or until the mixture turns a golden brown color.  Let cool.

Making the Mooncake Skin Dough:  Mix the flour, syrup, oil, and lye water in a large bowl.  Knead the dough until smooth.  Cover and let rest for 3 hours.  Divide the dough into 8 equal portions.

Putting the Mooncake together: Here you probably should have some kind of kitchen scale because otherwise you are going to have a really hard time getting the right size of dough and filling to fit the wooden mooncake mold.  

The thing is you can't really make it larger than the mold because you have to slam it out.  Much smaller than the mold wouldn't work either.  We got a cheap plastic one at the local household goods store which works just fine.

Weigh out the dough portion to around 50g.  Lightly flour the work surface and roll out the dough into a circle of 6 inches.  Weigh out a portion of the lotus paste of 90g.  Put two of the salted duck yolks in the lotus paste and form into a neat sphere, trying to space out the yolks evenly.  

Wrap the rolled out dough around it and pinch shut, neatly tearing off any extra dough and pinching shut those cracks (since the dough is oily it will stick together again easily.) The idea here is to have a thin even skin all around the mooncake.  
Pssst...Check out our easy mooncake wrapping 'cheat', perfect for wrapping the mooncake with a thin, even skin!

Flour the inside of the mooncake mold each time.  Shake off excess flour.  Lightly flour the round of dough and filling.  Drop the round of dough and filling carefully into the mold, making sure the sides don't catch on to the points of the wood mold.  Press down lightly with your palm until the dough/filling have filled up all parts of the mold.  If the weight calculations are correct, it should just fill your mold.  If not, be sure to adjust for the next mooncake.

Flip over the mold.  Bang flat down on the table (holding your breath, of course).  If you are really good at these sort of things the perfect mooncake will be waiting for you when you lift.  Or, if you are like the rest of us, nothing will happen.  Do not fear.  Bang again.  Check.  

If you see the mooncake beginning to droop from the mold, bang again, but not flat down as before as you do not want to mush the part of the mooncake that has come down already.  Just bang at a slight angle that protects any drooping part of the mooncake from contact with the table.  A couple of sharp knocks here and there will get the rest of that sucker down, I promise.  And then.. What can I say?  A thing of beauty.

Heat the oven to 375 F.  Bake the mooncakes for 15 minutes and then bring out and brush with egg wash.  Bake for 10-15 minutes more or until the mooncake is golden brown.  Take out and let cool. When completely cool place mooncakes on a plate and cover with plastic wrap or place in an airtight container.

Let the mooncakes sit in a cool place (not the fridge) for 2 to 3 days. This is the resting phase or the 油 phase. (We only found out about this afterwards.  When we made our mooncakes, we at first thought that the skin came out a bit hard or dry.  But then we found out from an old timer that you have to 'wait for it'.  Things change but don't change, eh?)  What happens is that the mooncake skin starts to absorb the oil from the filling, becoming tender and scented in the process.  All the flavors inside and out mix up together.  

So after a few days the mooncakes are finally ready to eat!  Cut a mooncake into eight wedges and share with your friends and family along with some good chinese tea.  What a journey, eh?  Well, enjoy your mooncakes so deliciously hard won and Happy Mid Autumn Festival!

Marvelous Mooncakes at The Hong Kong Cookery:

Chinese candied citrus, chinese olive seed, cooked glutinous rice flour, five kernel mooncake, Five Nuts Mooncake, homemade golden syrup, mid autumn festival, recipe, 五仁月餅, 桔餅, 欖仁, 糕粉Five Nuts Mooncake Part I 五仁月餅

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baked, chinese, easy way, how to, how to wrap, mooncake, Snow Skin, traditional, 月餅皮做法, 月餅製作How to Wrap a Mooncake 月餅皮做法

8 comments:

  1. Wow! You are as passionate (if not more) as I about cooking authentic regional cuisine! What a great recipe and experience...you are a master of the kitchen...I'm not sure I could get this one done! Congrats on your success and please invite me over for tea and moon cakes someday! ��

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    1. Hi The BDC - Thanks! We do like exploring authentic food recipes and this mooncake one is definitely a keeper ~ellen

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  2. Dear lawdy - the uncharted, the dangerous, and the unsurmountable indeed! Your mooncakes look incredible!!! I'm going to keep an eye out for mooncake moulds when I am in HK later this year, and give it a go :-)
    Thanks for sharing your culinary adventures. Your blog is charming and I'm glad to have found it. I'm inspired by your commitment to authentic Chinese food and also by your fearlessness!
    Can I ask where you find traditional recipes such as this? Sometimes I have fleeting mad ideas but wouldn't know where to begin looking.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Izzy - Thanks! We mostly get our traditional recipe ideas from our own memories and from bugging the old timers for tips and such and also from our collection of old Chinese cookbooks. I hope you have fun mooncake mould shopping, they are so gorgeous! ~ellen

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  3. Hi Ellen, your mooncakes look great. Can you please share the measurements in metric weight? I tried using the conversion online and i'm not sure if I got them accurately.
    The mooncake skin seems to be a little too dry, even after leaving for 2-3 "resting" days (as per your advice). Hope you can enlighten me with your experience. Thank you so much.
    Btw, tried your recipe for the snowskin mooncakes. They turned out excellent!! Foolproof recipe!! ~christine

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    Replies
    1. Hey christine - Wow, you're quite the mooncake baker! Your friends and family are so lucky. I've updated above for metric conversions. As for the mooncake skin being dry, did you cover (airtight) the mooncakes as they rested? Did you leave at room temp? They should be absorbing the oil from the filling as they sit. Was your filling nice and oily? Let me know if this helps. ~ellen

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    2. Hi Ellen, Thx so much for updating the recipe. Will give it another try this weekend. :)
      Left them at room temp and in airtight container. Filling looks oily to me, maybe not enough..haha.. will take note of these at my next attempt.
      Happy Mooncake Festival to you and your family.

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    3. Happy Mid Autumn Festival to you and yours as well!

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