I know it is still a couple of months away from the moon festival. Since I have been wanting to get my hands on trying to make moon cakes at home since last season, and I am totally new at this, so I have got to start early, and by that I mean, practice early so hopefully when the time arrives I can actually pull up something worthy and presentable to my family and friends 🙂
As many would probably be aware, there are two main kinds of cakes that had been enjoyed for years at the moon festivals: the baked cakes and the non-baked cakes. The latter is also commonly known as sticky rice mooncakes (the white colour cakes from the picture above). There are also Banh In and Banh Pia.
I don’t know if I would ever get to try making all of these delicacies as making each one is a trade in itself where only experience can come to rescue. I had known all along that making moon cakes is a dedicated and hard business. Professionals bakers are usually gearing up with preparations a couple of months ahead, all because the ingredients require “ripening” time. The following ingredients require preparation ahead of time.
First of the essentials is sugar syrup, which is cooked with lemon/lime juice to prevent crystallization and also gives the sugar syrup its gentle citric flavour. From hearsay and internet source, the longer sugar syrup is made, the better the flavour contributed to the moon cake at the end.
Salted Egg Yolk
The next ingredient is salted egg yolk. This is easier. All it takes is salt water to submerge eggs, cover and leave for 3 weeks. They should be ready around this time. However, I have cracked one to test after 3 weeks, and it’s not quite ready yet. The yolk is firming up, but not enough. So, be prepared to give this enough time.
There are generally two branches: sweet and savoury fillings. Having said that, both would usually contain a salted egg yolk in them. Yes, egg yolk in a sweet filling! Trust me, they do go together quite nicely.
Sweet fillings are commonly made from ground seeds and beans such as mung bean, red bean, lotus seed, black sesame seed. Root vegetable is another option, such as taro/yam, sweet potatoes (white and purple) or of more recent, pumpkin.
Savoury fillings would use a combination of nuts, seeds and Chinese sausages with a touch of lemon leaves traditionally. I prefer these over the sweets purely because it’s less sweet.
When I try to make the filling myself, it might be a different story though, as I would be able to reduce the sugar making it probably more palatable (on a personal level) in comparison to the well known “too sweet” moon cakes made commercially.
So, I already have some eggs sitting in salted water, made my sugar syrup (I’ll put the link later). I am too testing some recipes for the moon cakes. I feel like I am almost there, almost. Just a couple more tests I think 🙂