Tips for Mooncake Success:
The ratio of filling to dough is usually between 2:1 and 3:1. The mooncake mold I used is for 4.4-ounce mooncakes, so I measure out 2.6 ounces of filling and 1.8 ounces of dough for each mooncake. You can change the proportion as you wish, as long as the total amount fits your mold.
Each ingredient serves a purpose. For instance, golden syrup is one of the main elements that makes the outside of the mooncakes soft, chewy, and shiny. Lye water, meanwhile, gives them their golden color.
The filling needs oil, in order for the skin to become soft and shiny. I used a pre-made sweet red bean paste for the filling, which saved me at least four hours of prep time, but the paste does not have any oil in it, and so I had to add some myself.
To prevent cracking, always keep the dough and the unbaked mooncakes covered with plastic wrap. Spraying the mooncakes with water before they go into the oven also helps.
Do not eat the mooncakes right away. Baked mooncakes need to be stored in an airtight container for two days before serving. After two days, the crusts will become soft, chewy, and shiny, and the color will deepen. In Chinese, we call this process “hui you,” which literally translates to “returning oil.”
Red Lotus Seeds Mooncakes Recipe
Makes 12 (4.4-ounce) moon cakes
Prep Time: 3 hours and 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
4.4-ounce mooncake mold set (125g)
2 large baking trays, lined with parchment paper
Mist spray bottle, filled with water
Small pastry brush
2 wire cooling racks
For the dough:
3/4 cup honey (can substitute with golden syrup)
6 tablespoons peanut oil
1 teaspoon food-grade lye water (available online and in Chinese supermarkets)
2 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
For the filling:
2 1/2 pounds red lotus seeds paste (available online and in Chinese supermarkets)
For the egg wash:
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon water
- To make the dough, in a large mixing bowl, add the honey (traditionally people use golden syrup for this, but you can totally use honey), peanut oil, and lye water, and mix well. Add the sifted flour and mix and knead until the flour is well incorporated and no streaks remain, about 5 minutes. Place the dough in a large Ziploc bag and let it rest for 2 hours.
- For the filling, I’m using a premade mooncake red lotus paste, which you can buy in most of the Chinese supermarkets or online. When you buy the paste it’s important to pick the ones that have vegetable oil in it. On how to make your paste from scratch please see the description box or at cicili.tv.
- To assemble the mooncakes, use a kitchen scale to measure out 2.6 ounces of filling at a time. Form it into a ball with your palms and transfer to a plate. Cover the plate with a plastic wrap. Repeat with the rest of the filling.
- Then, use the scale to measure out 1.8 ounces of dough at a time. Form it into a ball with your palms, and transfer to a plate. Cover it with plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out. Repeat with the rest of the dough.
- Take a ball of dough and use your palms to pat it into a disk, about 2 inches in diameter. Place a ball of filling in the center and wrap the dough around it, bringing the edges of the dough up to cover the filling completely. Roll it into a uniform ball.
- My mooncake mold is 4.4 oucnes (125g). Dust the mold with flour. Also dust the ball with flour. Place it into the mold and gently flatten it until it fills the mold. Put the mold on a parchment-lined baking tray, press the stamp down, and slowly lift the mold to release the mooncake onto the tray.
- Immediately cover with a plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out. Repeat with the rest of the dough and the filling, tucking each mooncake under the plastic wrap as you finish shaping it.
- Spray the mooncakes with water, cover with bowls or plastic wrap, and let them rest for 30 minutes. This will help prevent the mooncakes from cracking.
- To bake the mooncakes: Position a baking rack in the middle of the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- In a small bowl, whisk together 1 egg yolk and 1 tablespoon of water until combined. Strain the mixture and set aside.
- Just before baking, spray the mooncakes with water again. Then transfer the tray of mooncakes to the middle rack of the oven and bake for 5 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes. Lightly brush the egg wash all over the mooncakes. Don’t apply the egg wash while the mooncakes are still hot, or add too much, as you might destroy the patterns from the mold.
- Return the mooncakes to the middle rack of the oven, and bake for another 10 minutes under 375 degrees F.
- Remove from the oven and let cool for about 30 minutes. Then, transfer the mooncakes to wire racks to cool down completely, another 2 hours.
- Store in an airtight container for 2 days before serving.
* Red Lotus Paste Recipe
1 1/2 pounds dried red lotus seeds
4 cups water
1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons peanut oil
1 teaspoon salt
- Soak the dried red lotus seeds for 2 hours to overnight.
- Place the soaked lotus seeds in a pot, add water, and bring to a boil. Then turn to low heat, and cook for around 2 hours until mushy.
- To thicken, turn the heat to high and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring constantly. At this point, the liquid should have almost dried out.
- Add in the sugar, and use an immersion blender to blend everything.
- Transfer the paste to a pan. Add half of the peanut oil and stir continuously for about 3 minutes. Then pour in the rest of the oil, and stir until thoroughly combined, for about 9 minutes. The paste should feel thick and heavy, with the texture of peanut butter.
- Transfer the paste to a plate and let it cool for about 1 hour. (You can also transfer it to the fridge to chill.) Once it has cooled, the filling will become firmer and therefore easier to manage.