This is my maiden attempt at making mooncakes. A few weeks before the Mid-Autumn Festival, I saw mooncake books lying around in Popular bookstore. The book covers caught my attention and the idea of making mooncakes immediately glued to my mind. Initially, I was all hyped up with enthusiasm. Little did I know that there were many underlying challenges behind the making of mooncakes. I shall share my mooncake making experience with greater details.
My pineapple tart kakis gathered at my place the day before Mid Autumn. We had planned to make both the traditional and snowskin mooncakes on the same day. Well, I guess we were too ambitious and things certainly did not turn out as planned.
Making the traditional mooncake pastry was pretty straight forward. But when it came to wrapping the dough over the fillings and moulding the mooncakes, we were in for some serious challenges. The recipe (from one of the mooncake books I caught hold from Popular) asked for 30g mooncake pastry skin and 140g lotus paste filling. The proportion of pastry was far too little to wrap around the fillings. We increased the amount to about 45g and it worked out to be much better. However, it takes a lot of skills to ensure the skin is evenly distributed around the filling. As shown in the picture above, some parts of the pastry skin were too thin and the lotus filling can be seen.
The first attempt to mould the mooncakes ended up in total disaster with a mooncake being stucked in the mould. I had to scrape the unbaked mooncake out but there were still lotus paste stuck in the carvings. As a result, I had to use a hose and spray at high pressure. Learning from this little nasty episode, we ensured that the mould and mooncakes were dusted generously with flour before we did the unmoulding. Thankfully, subsequent unmoulding of mooncakes turned out smoothly. We even found a way to get the unmould mooncakes without banging the wooden mould. Simply overturn the mould and start flicking the mooncake/s out. The air pressure will slowly release the mooncake/s.
As compared to the first few batches of mooncakes, the final batch browned to a nice golden colour (see picture above). However, it is still a far cry from the desired colour of a traditional mooncakes, which is that of a deep-brown tone (my mooncakes were quite pale).
Where traditional mooncakes are concerned, the type of golden syrup used is important. I used Lyle's golden syrup ( golden amber in colour) here instead of homemade golden syrup. When homemade golden syrup ages, it darkens to deep amber. Using aged homemade syrup would give mooncakes a much deeper brown skin tone. One would require advance planning when making homemade syrup as it takes a least 6 months for the syrup to age to a desirable colour. Another crucial element in getting the desirable skin tone would be the egg wash which contributes to a certain degree of browning of the mooncake skin.
mooncake with durian paste
Overall, I felt it was more of a mooncake baking lesson which I have attended at home. There is still lots of room for improvement when it comes to me making mooncakes. After visiting blogs of fellow bake bloggers, I learnt that baked mooncakes should be left to sit for 3 days before consumption, something unheard of prior to this baking lesson. Allowing the mooncakes to sit for 3 days would allow the oil to seep out and the mooncakes will darken to a deeper shade of brown. Apart from that, the other advantage of letting the mooncakes sit over the 3-day period is to allow the skin to soften.
After making the traditional mooncakes, there were still some storebought lotus paste left. I will be attempting to make snowskin mooncakes with the rest of the paste. Wish me lots of luck on that...
Learning points for Bakertan in future mooncake making lessons:
1) Find a good balance between the ratio of the skin and filling.
2) Ensure that mooncake skin is uniform in thickness.
3) Dust mould genorously with flour when unmoulding mooncakes.
4) Prepare homemade golden syrup and allow sufficient time for it to age.
5) Add sugar/syrup to egg wash.
6) Allow mooncakes to sit for 3 days before consuming.