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Moon Cakes


Gary Soup
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I have to admit, I've never much cared for mooncakes. But I read a short blurb in Newsweek recently about some mooncakes I'd love to try! A short quotation:

Raffles The Plaza, in Singapore, is offering a mini snow-skin litchi, almond and dark-chocolate mooncake as well as a more health-conscious baked mooncake with wolfberries, figs and lingzhi—known as the "mushroom of immortality" —in red lotus paste ($30; https:// order.singapore-plaza.raffles.com). At the Ritz-Carlton, gourmands can find mooncakes filled with a strawberry vodka cream ($28; ritzcarltonmooncakes.com). But for those who really want to impress, the Oriental Hotel has mooncakes made from hand-rolled chocolate truffles infused with the exclusive Louis Roederer Cristal champagne and topped with edible gold leaf.

If only I could be in Singapore right now!

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Seeing as the mooncake festival is fast approaching, I was wondering about making some ping pei mooncake myself. Anyway, I was thinking about flavors to incorporate into the skin and was hoping that maybe... just maybe I can add coffee to it.

Now my question would be whether to make the coffee and add to the flour mixture as the liquid component or use instant coffee powder as a flavor additive ala matcha powder.

Try using the instant coffee powder. The additional water could make it too wet to flake up. Just my guess from what I learned second hand from my culinary/pastry schoolmate.

I dislike ping pei because they're so friggin DRY! (Well, to me at least). I have in my hands a 4 yolk white lotus mooncake tin from Wing Wah. I was going to give it to my Dai Goo but my mom tells me not to overwhelm her with something so darn rich. Then she tells me not to eat it because 4 yolks is a bit much.

I suppose I could give Dai Goo a 2 yolk white lotus tin but isn't it pass the season? I won't be able to see her until two weeks from now so would it be tacky for me to give it to her then? I think it would be, but maybe I'm overthinking things.

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Dean Barrett, in his travelogue Don Quixote in China goes into quite some detail on moon cakes and their traditions.

We always end up with a present of them when we're in Bangkok at this time of the year. The first time my daughter, Serena, was ecstatic. It was a beautiful red box with fairies in all sorts of poses on the top.

Then she bit into the durian.

Now she hides when we bring them home.

But, we know people who like them, so they don't go to waste (contrary to legend, moon cakes from the 1400's are not still circulating as gifts).

For those lucky enough to be in Singapore, Asia ECuisine has a great round up of the big name moon cakes on offer!

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have a general question about moon cakes, of which I've eaten my share over the years.

Is it generally considered a virtue for a moon cake to have a thin pastry skin, or a thick one? What is considered better for Hong Kong or Cantonese moon cakes? Is it a regional variation, or just personal preference?

I have to say I prefer to buy the small moon cakes or regular-sized moon cakes with thicker skins, because I feel it results in a better ratio of pastry to filling.

Edited by sanrensho (log)
Baker of "impaired" cakes...
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I just tried a lotus bean paste and a red bean paste mooncake. (Each specified '1 yolk'). I enjoyed them both. They are quite filling and I think one would be sufficient for a substantial snack with a cup of tea.

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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Each year I'm a day late and a dollar short, but I have my molds finally and will be making some this week. So let me ask a very rudimentary question. Is "cooked glutinous rice flour" just rice flour or is it something else. I have Swad brand (Indian) rice flour that I used in some Filipino desserts, but I'm not sure if its the same thing. Thanks.

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I can tell you my personal preference which probably doesn't mean squat in regards to virtue!

Thin pastry skin versus thick

Thinner is better. The filling costs more to make (labor and product) so having a thick skin means the bakery's trying to cut corners. Plus, I would gather a thin-skinned pastry is more difficult to handle and therefore you need to be more skilled to create one. More skill=more money=more upscale.

Hong Kong versus Cantonese

Well, isn't that one in the same (almost)? If you mean HK versus China, it's HK all the way. Especially now given all the product recalls. Hell, I don't want some random thing in my moocake. Unless it's a 24K gold necklace.

Now if you ask me ping pei versus traditional skin...I HATE PING PEI! Phwah, so dry!

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Is "cooked glutinous rice flour" just rice flour or is it something else.  I have Swad brand (Indian) rice flour that I used in some Filipino desserts, but I'm not sure if its the same thing.  Thanks.

"Glutinous rice flour" is rice flour made from sticky glutinous (sweet, mochi) rice. "Rice flour" is made from regular rice. They're sold as separate items AFAIK.

Baker of "impaired" cakes...
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That's unfortunate. Is it unreasonable to take my sweet rice and make it into flour in the processor?

Also, many recipes just say "flour" not "rice flour." Does that mean I can us AP or are they assuming I'm not stupid enough to use AP?

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Thinner is better.  More skill=more money=more upscale.

That was my educated guess as well.

Hong Kong versus Cantonese

Well, isn't that one in the same (almost)?  If you mean HK versus China, it's HK all the way.  Especially now given all the product recalls.  Hell, I don't want some random thing in my moocake.  Unless it's a 24K gold necklace.

Maybe I phrased my question poorly. I was wondering if there are specific skin preferences (thin vs. thick) for HK moon cakes. Since those are what I'm most likely to get here in Vancouver. I guess your comments above answers my question.

I was also wondering if there are regional preferences in skin thickness, such as thicker skins being preferred in other parts of China. Maybe not?

Baker of "impaired" cakes...
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That's unfortunate.  Is it unreasonable to take my sweet rice and make it into flour in the processor?

I don't know if you might be able substitute one with the other. My gut instinct says "No" but maybe someone else has tried it?

Baker of "impaired" cakes...
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I think it is the general belief that the thinner the skin (mooncake) the better. As you can see when some shops advertise their mooncake, they would emphasize "thin skin". I think one of the reasons is the thinner the skin, the harder it is to make. It takes a lot of mastermanship (did I say this right?). A lot of "see fu".

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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It takes a lot of mastermanship (did I say this right?).

Thanks for your input. I think the word you are looking for is "craftsmanship."

BTW, what is the Chinese pronunciation for moon cake? (I only know the Japanese pronunciation--"geppei.")

Baker of "impaired" cakes...
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...Taste the yolk alone and try to identify any off flavors.  When I brought home my 4-yolk mooncake, he saw that TWO of the @#$! yolks were fake.  The colors were off and it was like a crumbly paste instead of a smooth and oily, well, YOLK!

What is a fake yolk? What is it made of?

I think it's mainly flour, colour & flavouring.

I thought real egg yolks aren't uniform in colour - there should be a thin outer layer to the yolk that is lighter in colour, and as you get get closer to the centre of the yolk, it should get harder & become a darker orange. The centre shouldn't be crumbly.

It takes a lot of mastermanship (did I say this right?).

Thanks for your input. I think the word you are looking for is "craftsmanship."

BTW, what is the Chinese pronunciation for moon cake? (I only know the Japanese pronunciation--"geppei.")

The Cantonese pronunciation is "yeuet bang".

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Well, I guess real egg yolks vary in terms of color & color variation. But regardless, they should be nice and oily. Definitely not crumbly.

I wouldn't take my sewet rice and put it in the food processor. In the old days, they would use one of those large granite food mills that allows you to mill your rice & water to make some sort of flour.

Or I could be wrong!

Elders: How long would mooncakes last in the freezer? My four yolk white lotus paste mooncakes from Wing Wah have not yet been consumed. Considering how much I spent ( :laugh: ) I would like to eat them but not all at once ( :wacko: ).

I am having a triple yolk white lotus paste mooncake for b-fast today with my coffee. Yay!

Edited by Gastro888 (log)
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Elders: How long would mooncakes last in the freezer?  My four yolk white lotus paste mooncakes from Wing Wah have not yet been consumed.  Considering how much I spent ( :laugh: ) I would like to eat them but not all at once ( :wacko: ). 

I am having a triple yolk white lotus paste mooncake for b-fast today with my coffee.  Yay!

I'm not sure if I can be considered an elder - yet - but they keep a long time in the freezer. I used to bring several boxes to my mother (before they were banned) and they'd last at least six months. They were the lotus seed paste type with two yolks - not sure how long the other types last.

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Was so busy with cakes this year, I didn't really have time to make many mooncakes. I did around 100 goong chai paengs ('doll' biscuits) with red bean and green tea paste fillings to give away to friends' children. For our own consumption I made a few 5-nuts and egg yolk wrapped in green tea paste, then white lotus paste mooncakes. The pastes were bought and were low-sugar. Dangerous...because it made me eat more!

gallery_12248_5238_73707.jpg

I'm an incurable mould collector. Just bought these 'doll' moulds...apparently, they are from HK. My Melissa-in-the-middle helped make them.

gallery_12248_5238_1247.jpg

Sheetz, don't make me wait till 'my neck is long'....

Edited by Tepee (log)

TPcal!

Food Pix (plus others)

Please take pictures of all the food you get to try (and if you can, the food at the next tables)............................Dejah

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Tepee! The five nut mooncakes are my favourite! FedEx please. :laugh:

When Ben-Sook was here, he ate the last of the mooncakes I had on hand. He's retired and enjoying life! :biggrin:

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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  • 4 weeks later...

Sorry about catching on with these discussions late. (Been extremely busy lately)

During a recent trip to the San Jose area (just before Mid-Autumn Festival), I found all kinds of mooncakes for sale in 99 Ranch Market.

gallery_19795_163_42687.jpg

I examined some of these boxes... about half of them are imported from Hong Kong or elsewhere in China. They include single yolk or double yolk lotus seed mooncakes. That really got me puzzled about the US Custom's policy. Why was Aprilmei denied bringing in the mooncakes containing egg yolks? These mooncakes containing egg yolks came through containers and freight ships to the US soil in bulks. Why can't individuals bring them in person?

gallery_19795_163_21348.jpg

I picked up a familiar box. "Wing Wah" brand. Very old and famous brand name in Hong Kong. 57 years making mooncakes. You can see that the box clearly labelled that the mooncakes were made in Hong Kong. I don't know what the fuzz with the Custom Officiers at the airport is all about.

gallery_19795_163_27706.jpg

I didn't buy any mooncake this year. The problem with it is there are 4 cakes in a box, and it's just too much (too rich) for 2 persons to consume just for the occasion. I got some from my MIL. Some local restaurant mades. Single yolk. Lotus seed. *sigh* They are no TP.

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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  • 9 months later...

gallery_59865_6000_69848.jpg

I love red bean moon cakes and have enjoyed this thread. Tepee, your mooncakes are beautiful.

I have lived in SF for 30 years, and I started getting moon cakes at Eastern Bakery, but I got some there this past year and they were inedible. Anyone know why the change? I'm glad someone helped me figure out how to make my own, disaster preparedness.

This mold came from the Wok Shop in SF.

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I have lived in SF for 30 years, and I started getting moon cakes at Eastern Bakery, but I got some there this past year and they were inedible.  Anyone know why the change?  I'm glad someone helped me figure out how to make my own, disaster preparedness.

I am reading this with a slight amusement. :raz: How "inedible"? You don't like the taste of their mooncake? I have been to Eastern Bakery on Grant but am not impressed by them. I remember them displaying a month-old pineapple bao in a plastic-wrap on the window display.

My favorite is "AA Bakery", one block uphill from Eastern, on Stockton and about Jackson.

AA Bakery & Cafe‎

1068 Stockton St, San Francisco, CA -

(415) 981-0123‎

I like their mooncakes and all sorts of Hong kong style bakery items in general.

Edited by hzrt8w (log)
W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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Growing up in LA decades ago we got shipments of mooncakes from Eastern Bakery in SF. Yeah, they were dry and stale, but at the time I didn't know any better so they seemed fine to me. Now that I'm used to eating higher quality brands I can never go back.

This thread reminds me that Moon Festival is coming up soon, so time to break out the mooncake mold!

Edited by sheetz (log)
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