The moon cake has been called the "Christmas fruitcake of China", forever being regifted and recirculated because people feel obligated to give them, but no one actually likes eating it. I don't know what they heck they're talking about, because I love, love, LOVE mooncakes. Boxes of luxury lotus seed moon cakes are given to us by relatives and friends as fast as we are polishing them off. If it wasn't for the health concerns associated with eating moon cakes to excess (800 calories per moon cake!!!), I would capitalise on their ubiquity around this time of year, and eat them 24/7.
As it is, I try and limit myself to no more than a quarter of a mooncake per day. It's harder than it sounds, and there is alway that acute sense of disappointment with the last bite. *sigh*. I have full intentions of letting myself go completely once I reach 60 years of age, and eating as much moon cake as I want. I'm sure my aged pancreas would be ecstatic afterward.
Nothing impresses my family more than when I try to recreate a traditional dish/dessert in my very own kitchen. I stumbled upon a beautiful moon cake mould at a knives shop in Burwood, and handed over $38 for it with only a slight wince. Of course they're a lot cheaper in China (thank you, Grandmother, for repeatedly pointing that out to me), but it's not like I can just snap my fingers and and go shopping in Beijing. After some research, I decided on the recipe for the moon cake skin given by Florence at Do What I Like. The filling presented more of a problem since the canned lotus seed paste I acquired from a local Asian grocery store was very runny and insipid in flavour, and tasted nothing like the rich, nutty lotus paste in professionally-made moon cakes. I remedied that by mixing in some peanut oil and honey, and then drying the whole thing over a stove, until I got a thick paste with an almost dough-like consistency. And then it was a simple case of wrapping the dough over the filling, plopping it into the floured mould, and then banging the living daylights out of it over a counter to remove the now perfectly formed moon cake.
I decided to make another batch earlier this week, except this time...they were porcine-shaped!
Recipe for Baked Mooncake with lotus seed paste filling
Adapted from Do What I Like
Ingredients (makes many small ones, or a few large ones ;P)
For the skin pastry dough:
500g all-purpose/plain flour
150g peanut oil
325g golden syrup
2.5 teaspoons lye water (available from Asian groceries)
For the filling:
2 cans of lotus seed paste, around 1150g in total
150ml peanut oil
2 tablespoons honey
For the egg wash:
1 egg yolk + 1 tsp water, lightly beaten and strained.
To make the filling:
1. Combine everything, and mix until well incorporated. Heat over medium flame, stirring constantly, until a thick dough-like paste forms.
2. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Place in fridge once cooled for 1 hour.
To make the pastry:
1. Combine peanut oil, golden syrup and lye water in a small bowl and heat over a pot of boiling water until everyting is combined. Allow to cool slightly (but not cold) and add to the flour. Mix into a dough, and set aside for 1 hour.
To make the mooncake:
Please refer to Florence's blog post :D