Moon Cake - Must-eat Food at Mid-Autumn Festival
The moon cake is a traditional Chinese food eaten at the Mid-Autumn Festival. The festival is also called the Mooncake Festival, it is the second most important festival for a family reunion in China, after the Spring Festival.
What Do Moon cakes Taste Like?
Moon cakes typically have pastry skins and rich fillings stuffed inside. With various fillings like bean pastes, yolks, nuts, and roast pork, moon cakes taste savory, sweet, and salty.
Since the ingredients contain high fat, high sugar, high salt, the moon cake has a lot of calories. It is better not to take more than 100 grams of moon cakes per day.
Why Do People Eat Moon Cakes at Mid-Autumn Festival?
In Chinese culture, the circle symbolizes completeness and perfection. Shaped like the full moon, the moon cake is round.
Originally, Chinese people worshipped the moon for harvests in autumn. The moon cake was offered as a sacrifice to the moon. Later, it was eaten when families gathered together, enjoying the beauty of the full and bright moon.
Nowadays, the Mid-Autumn Festival celebration is not complete without eating the round-shaped moon cakes, which convey people’s desires for family reunion and happiness.
Why Is Moon Cake So Expensive?
As a compulsory festive food, moon cakes are always a best-seller around the time of the Mid-Autumn Festival. Most are intended as gifts for friends and relatives, with luxurious and exquisite packaging. It’s a bit ridiculous but true that sometimes the gift boxes are even more expensive than the moon cakes themselves!
On the other hand, moon cakes may cost a lot to make, when for example they have costly ingredients like seafood or high-quality tea, or use special baking methods, like snow skin moon cakes.
Where and When to Buy Moon Cakes?
You can buy various moon cakes at supermarkets, bakeries, or online shops around one month before the Mid-Autumn Festival.
Some fancy hotels such as Shangri-la, Mandarin Oriental, and Raffles Hotel, will provide high-end moon cakes, too. The moon cakes in the gift box are more expensive and better packaged.
Most Popular Chinese Moon Cake Flavors
1. Five Kernel and Roast Pork
Five kernels and roast pork is the most famous traditional flavor in China. Its filling consists of roast pork and 5 types of chopped nuts and seeds which vary according to the region but commonly include walnuts, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, dried winter melon seeds, sesame seeds, or almonds.
2. Lotus Seed Paste with Yolk
Made of dried lotus seeds with one round salted duck egg, this kind of moon cake is considered by some to be the most delicious, and possibly the most luxurious as well.
3. Sweet Bean Paste
There are several types of bean paste for this kind of filling – including red bean paste, mung bean paste, and black bean paste. Red bean paste is the most common.
4. Snow Skin
Chilled rather than baked, snow skin moon cakes are named after their translucent skin. They have become increasingly popular in recent years among young adults, kids, and westerners.
5. Green Tea
It is ideal for those who want their dessert to have health benefits. Green tea moon cake is popular among those who can’t quite stomach the sweetness of candy coverings.
Best-Known Regional Styles of Moon Cakes
The form, texture, and method of baking moon cakes all vary throughout the country. They come in different local styles.
- Cantonese-Style Moon Cake: tender and rich, with thin crusts and thick fillings.
- Chaoshan-Style Moon Cake: crisp skin and fine fillings, sweet and oily, but not greasy.
- Beijing-Style Moon Cake: crispy outside and soft inside, not too sweet as a whole, using much sesame oil and a 2:3 proportion of crust and filling.
- Suzhou-Style Moon Cake: crispy skin and soft layers, heavy oil but not greasy, with stuffing that is sweet and a bit salty.
- Yunnan-Style Moon Cake: crispy skin and sweet flavors with a taste of salt, with fillings of ham and flowers.
Moon Cake Recipe
Why not follow this sample recipe to make some cute moon cakes at home? You can adjust the taste based on your preference. Giving homemade moon cakes as gifts can also show your sincerity.
Ingredients and Preparations
To make 12 sweet bean paste moon cakes, you’ll need: 350g self-raising flour, 3 teaspoons baking powder, 150g sugar, 180ml vegetable oil, 3 eggs (cracked into a bowl and lightly beaten), and about 175ml cold water
Plus: oil or butter for greasing the baking tray, about 450g sweet red bean paste, 1 egg (cracked into a bowl and beaten for brushing)
How to make red bean paste: red azuki beans are boiled, then pureed and sweetened.
Making Moon Cakes
- Step 1. Hold a large sieve over a bowl, tip in the flour, and shake gently so the flour falls into the bowl. Add the sugar, oil, and eggs.
- Step 2. Knead everything with your hands or with the kneading hooks of a mixer. The dough should hold together but not be sticky. Add a little water, until it holds well together.
- Step 3. Put a little oil or butter on a kitchen towel and grease a muffin tray (or another different shape of mold). Take a piece of dough the size of a table tennis ball. Dust your work area with flour, and then roll out the dough with a rolling pin to make a 100-125mm circle.
- Step 4. Place each circle in a hollow in the muffin tray so it overhangs. Put 1 tablespoon of bean paste in each one. Brush the pastry edges with water.
- Step 5. Heat the oven to 200℃ (gas mark 6). Make 12 walnut-sized balls and roll them out to make 50-75mm circles. Put the smaller circles on top of the paste in the larger ones. Gently press all around the “lid” to close in the paste.
- Step 6. Brush the top of the moon cakes with the beaten egg. Bake them for about 25 minutes.
Would you like to learn to make moon cakes from locals, when traveling in China? Contact us and we can customize a moon cake class for you!