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8 Dec 2012

Moon Cake with Lotus Seed Paste

Penang [檳城] • 08 DECEMBER 2012
The 15th day of the 8th Lunar month is what the Chinese called The Mid Autumn Festival or Moon Cake Festival, when the moon is said to be the biggest and brightest of the year. This is one of the most heavily celebrated Chinese festivals, and most people would travel home to see their families.

And no Mid Autumn Festival can be complete without enjoying some moon cake under the moonlight! Here is one of the most common type: a Cantonese-style moon cake with lotus seed filling. You can make them with added salted egg yolk, adzuki bean paste as well as dried fruit and nuts. Or, try a different style: Bing Pi Moon Cake.

Ingredients (lotus seed filling):
500g lotus seeds
200g brown sugar
1 tablespoon food grade alkaline water
50 ml vegetable oil
Ingredients (pastry):
200g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon dried yeast
100ml syrup (take from cooking 40g brown sugar in 100ml water)
50ml vegetable cooking oil
2 egg yolks, beaten


Soak the lotus seeds overnight, clean and rinse thoroughly; cover with hot boiling water, add in the alkaline water and soak for another hour.
Drain and rinse the lotus seeds. To get rid of the smell and taste of the alkaline water, remove the lotus seed skin and the core(germ) within the seeds, and wash thoroughly.
Strain, then steam the seeds for about an hour or till the seeds are soft. Mash the seeds into a paste whilst they are still hot, with a wooden spoon or blend it with a food processor.
Heat the oil in a wok, pour in the lotus seed mash and brown sugar. Keep stirring the mixture on medium low heat till it is thick and pasty. Keep aside to cool, then divide the paste into 13 to 14 balls.
Set the oven on 400ºF/200ºC (180ºC for fan oven).
Sift flour and dried yeast into a large mixing bowl.
Make a dry well in the middle of the flour, and pour mixture of syrup and vegetable oil into the well.
Stir it slowly to mix well then roll lightly with your hands till the dough is smooth and not sticky.
Separate the dough into 13 or 14 parts, each weighing roughly 25 grams. Roll each into a round-shaped thin pastry dough, fill it with the lotus seed paste ball, and wrap it up carefully.
Sprinkle a thin layer of flour into the moon cake mould, press the filled dough firmly into the mould to get the shape of the moon cake then remove from the mould.
Repeat with the rest of the dough and lotus seed paste.
Place the ready-to-bake moon cakes in a baking tray, brush a layer of egg yolk to coat the surface of each cake and place the tray on the middle deck of the oven.
Bake for about 30 minutes, till the surface turns golden brown.

Versatility Note:

If you wish to make one that's filled with salted egg yolk (moon cakes with egg yolk are generally more expensive), first bake the salted egg in the oven pre-set to 350ºF for 10 minutes, remove the firmed egg yolk, wrap it in the middle of the lotus seed paste, before wrapping the paste with the pastry dough.
The sugar in this recipe has been reduced, and you can further reduce it according to your desired taste, or switch it to white sugar. But we do prefer brown, as it is healthier and gives a nicer aroma.
You can get hold of moon cake moulds (pictured below) from most pastry equipment shops in Asia. But if you can't get one, you can use a muffin pan. Make a patterned stencil out of clean cardboard according to the size of the mould, place it at the bottom of the mould (remember to sprinkle some flour over it too) whilst pressing the filled cake dough against it. When the cake dough is taken out of the mould, the pattern would be pressed on to the top of the cake dough.
Best enjoyed with some hot Chinese tea, to balance up the sweetness and the oily ingredients.

Credited to Mooncake


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