Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Bakertan's Maiden Mooncake Baking Lesson

Sorry folks, I have been rather tied up with project work lately. Hence, I will be blogging and baking at a slower pace. This post comes as a rather late one, especially when the Mid-Autumn Festival has passed by for more than a week.

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.


  1. ZY, for a first timer, you done pretty well with the skin wrapping. It is evenly thinned out. Can't wait to see more next year.

  2. Good attempt ZY. I have not gain enough courage to try out the baked version as of to date. Although the colour is not as dark, it still looked nicely moulded and the skin thickness just right. Hope to see even nicer mooncakes made from you next year. Btw, is that the filling Shirley bought? I still have like 300g left....guess is lotus bao for me, lol!

  3. good attempt bakertan till now I still do not have the courage to make mooncakes!!

  4. Aiyo! First time and can churn out this yummy looking mooncake is unbelievable already!

    Thank you for sharing the recipe, finally get to see it heheheh... :P

    Happy belated mid autumn festival to you, yeah!

  5. ZY, you baked mooncake only the day before the festival??!! No way! You need to do this at least 3-4 days in advance to age it! I didn't get to work on mine until the last weekend before the festival... Lyle golden syrup is good enough - restuarants also use that - don't bother to cook your own syrup. (I have a feeling that maple syrup can also work but try next year...) Also I learnt that the alkali water is important. My alkali water is rather old so I believe it is not as alkaline hence colour of the mooncake was not as 'golden'.

  6. ZY, well done for the 1st attempt. For the sugar syrup, I am using 广祥泰, recommended in one of the forum which I cant remember which one :P.

  7. Your mooncakes look so pretty! Great job!

  8. I learned several new things by reading this post. Thanks for sharing what you learned. Will you be sharing the recipe for the mooncakes? Also how do you make golden syrup? Is it also known as corn syrup?

  9. Bakertan,
    Congrats with your first attempt with mooncakes.
    The skin looks very thin and I'd say they look pretty good.
    But I'm not a mooncake eater, hence will never attempt making one. But looking at yours is good enough for me.

  10. Hey Edith,

    Thanks for the kind words =]. I must ask for tips on mooncake making from you ladies when we meet up.


    hey BeeBee,

    Thanks for being so encouraging! Hope I have the mood to do more mooncakes next year despite a not so satisfactory first attempt, haha. I havent used the lotus paste from Shirley. Will use it for my snowskin mooncakes.


    hey Jess,

    thanks! you may want to try making it next year, probably making snowskin for a start would be a good idea.


    hey Jenny,

    happy belated mi-autumn to you and all other bloggers =] Thanks for the kind words.


    hey Shirley,

    I didn't know mah, haha. I only knew about it when I read your entry and blessed homemaker's entry. Next year I will make mooncakes one week in advance.

  11. hey Jesslyn,

    Thanks for the encouragement. I heard 广祥泰. Din know they have golden syrup. Some bakers get their paste from them.


    Hi Indie.tea,

    thanks for the compliments =]


    Hi x3baking,

    I wont be sharing this recipe as I am not very satisfied with it. There are other more experienced bloggers with pretty trustworthy recipes =]. You can look them up in my [bloggers page] below my header

    Golden syrup is golden caramel in colour whereas corn syrup is colourless. Golden syrup has a more pronounced flavour than corn syrup. Golden syrup is made by boiling water and sugar until the syrup becomes golden.

  12. hey wendy,

    thanks for the kind words =]. I am a big fan of mooncakes hence the idea of making them intrigued me immediately when I saw the books.

  13. Bakertan,
    You did a great job. Your mooncakes look pretty and yummy! Did you let your mooncake pastry dough rest before moulding? I heard that at least we need to let it rest at least 2 hours or longer before moulding. The longer you let it rest, the brown colour skin you get.

  14. Hey ZY,

    I think u did pretty well leh. *^_^*

  15. This year is also my first year making mooncakes, hence I can understand the trial and error and learning along the way.

    I did not try baked mooncakes as I prefer snowskin mooncakes. Haha... But 30g skin to 140g filling is really too challenging. I already find myself having issues with 20g skin to 30g filling for snowskin mooncakes. Haha...

    Hope to see your snowskin mooncakes debut! :)

  16. Hi DG,

    Thanks for the kind words! I rested the dough for 2 hours as indicated by the recipe. Will let it rest 4 hours or longer next time. Thanks for sharing this tip! =]


    Hi Cathy and Anncoo,

    thanks for the compliments!


    hi hanushi,

    I myself prefer baked mooncakes. I have made the snowskin mooncakes, will post them up in one or two days time. Saw the mooncakes you made, they are lovely =]

  17. Hey, for a first timer, I'd say these are good enough! I remember when I was wrapping mooncakes for the first time at my aunt's last year, I almost had her "dough" and home-made lotus paste messed up. She was a bit upset. Haha! (Her mooncake skin dough is wet and sticky.) I love how your last pic of the mooncakes ... the thinness of the mooncake skin. I think it's pretty well wrapped for maiden attempt. Seriously! Of course, we can always make mooncakes for the purpose of practice anytime of the year. =)

    Yea, that was why I said if I have the time to make mooncakes this year, I'd have made and aged my syrup LONG ago too ... like shortly after my mooncake-making session with my aunt. That would give the syrup 1 year to age.

    Now, I shall wait for your snowskin mooncakes to appear here. However, take your time! 加油 in your report!

  18. Lovely mooncakes you've made! I wouldn't notice that it's homemade until you mentioned it.

    Did you grab those thin asia published books from Popular? There are a few gems out there. They have good basic recipes but they sometimes tend to be kinda unreliable or miss out giving some tips.


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