September 27th is the Mid-Autumn Festival and that means mooncakes! Most (Asian) people think of mooncakes as more of a ceremonial treat – thrown away after the holiday (sort of like fruitcakes), but I love the flavor and texture, especially with the traditional smooth and creamy lotus seed center.

But I respect it’s not everyone’s jam…but I also think if you had more of a say to the filling and maybe having the whole thing be homemade may make a difference, so I’m showing how to make variations - lotus seed AND red bean mooncakes, which more people may like.

Pre-made Lotus Seed and Red Bean Paste

Red bean can be changed to green bean or green tea or even custard - its just you need to adjust the filling recipe to make sure it is thick enough - to the thickness of mashed potatoes (maybe even slightly thicker). Save yourself the trouble of having to make lotus seed or red been paste by buying it at the Chinese grocery store.

Tips

  • You need to find Lyles Golden Syrup. I found it in Wegemans. Prior to buying the syrup, I had tried it with honey and then decided to make my own golden syrup. The consistency in the mooncake dough’s end product was just so difficult to work with - either being too dry and cracking or too wet. Save yourself the trouble. Get it off Amazon or something before trying it.
  • If your filling is too thin, it’s harder to shape it in the molds later, so either refrigerate the mooncakes prior to shaping or cook the filling over medium heat so that more of the liquid is evaporated before wrapping it in dough.
  • It’s also a good idea to chill your filling prior to wrapping it in the dough, so that it stays together better.

Preserved Duck Yolks (optional for the center)

  • Molds - I recommend you buy the plastic molds instead of the wooden one I have in the picture below. Sure, it’s prettier, but it’s a pain to get the mooncakes out because it sticks to the wooden bits and you sort of have to smack it out. Plus, you get better details and shape with the plastic molds (I’ll include a link here) because it is pressing from the top down. It also gives you a flatter bottom because with the wooden molds, you press the bottom in yourself.

Directions

Shell Dough

1. Mix Lyle’s Golden Syrup, oil, and lye water together.

2. Add in cake flour and mix with hands till dough ball forms. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours prior to using.

Filling

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake yolks for 20 minutes. Let cool and cut in half.

2. Divide filling into ten 2-inch balls. If mixture is too thick, cook over medium heat for 5-10 minutes prior to using. Push cooled yolks into filling balls. Roll back into a ball and chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Lotus Seed Paste

Red Bean Paste

Assembly

1. Roll chilled dough between 2 sheets of plastic wrap until about 4-inches in diameter. Place chilled filling in the center and wrap dough around using the plastic wrap as an aide. Finish rolling and smoothing out into a ball with your hands..

2. Sprinkle cornstarch into the mooncake molds and press dough until shape forms. Once all is shaped, place into refrigerator for 10-20 minutes.

3. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Using a spray bottle, spray mooncakes with a light mist of water. Bake for 5 minutes and then take out.

4. Turn oven down to 275 degrees Fahrenheit. Brush on a light layer of egg wash. Wait 2 minutes and brush on another layer. Return to oven and bake for another 15-18 minutes until golden brown.

5. Take out of the oven and let cool. Once cooled, store in an air-tight container for 2 days before eating.

Recipe

(Yields 10 small mooncakes)

The Shell

  • 3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon Lyle’s Golden Syrup
  • 5 ¼ teaspoons vegetable oil
  • ¼ teaspoon lye water
  • 1 cup + 3 tablespoons cake flour

Filling

  • 1 can lotus or red bean paste
  • 5 preserved egg yolks, halved (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (if using yolks)

Mold and Egg Wash

  • 2-3 tablespoons corn starch
  • water, in a spritz bottle
  • 1 egg