I started selling mooncakes when I was studying in the university to pay my way through college. Truth to be told, as I was an amateur, I’ve made too many mistakes to make a lot of money out of it. I have since learned.
Firstly, never buy egg yolks very close to the eighth lunar month, because they are extremely expensive. Buy the salted eggs fresh, remove the egg whites and freeze them a month ahead.
Secondly, if you use store bought lotus paste, they are more expensive than the salted egg yolks. And since the market price of those with more egg yolks is higher, it is more lucrative to make those with more yolks.
Making traditional Chinese or Cantonese mooncakes is really simple, if you would just invest in a few tools. The most important being the moon cake mould. When I first started making mooncakes more than three decades ago, we only had wooden ones. These days, they have plastic hand pressured ones.
I have yet tried the plastic hand pressured ones because I love the feel and the weight of the wooden moulds. I lost some of favourite moulds when moving house and managed to replace them with some bought in Hong Kong.
In making mooncakes, there are a few important things to look out for:
- Be familiar with your mould and weigh out the dough and the filing accurately.
- Never bake the mooncake too long or at too low a temperature or the filing will ooze out. The best I have found is to bake them for five minutes, then egg wash and then bake another 7 to 12 minutes. Nothing more.
- If using salted egg yolks, spray them with Chinese wine to rid them of smell.
- Soak new wooden mould with oil prior to first use, to season the wood. Always dust the mould with a good measure of flour and knock the excess out for each mooncake.
150g Hong Kong Flour or Cake Flour
90ml Golden Syrup
1tsp Alkaline Water
40ml Peanut OilFiling
480g Lotus Paste (any flavour you like: green tea, sesame, white, yellow, durian etc etc)
6 salted egg yolks
A bit of Chinese Wine
2 Tablespoons of Melon Seeds, toasted (or sesame seeds or chopped macadamia)Egg wash
1 Egg Yolk
1/2 Egg White
- Place the dry ingredients in a bowl and create a wall with the flour.
- Pour in the wet ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon until combined. Do not overmix. Set aside for 30-40 minutes.
- Spray the eggs with Chinese Wine.
- Massage the melon seeds into the paste.
- Divide the lotus paste into 6 equal portions of 80g each. Bury one egg yolk into each portion.
- Divide dough into 6 equal portions of 45-50g each.
- Roll each out to a disc and wrap the filing into the dough.
- Dust the mooncake mould generously with flour and knock out any excess flour.
- Press the dough into the mould, paying attention to the sides so that the pattern is caught on.
- To remove, knock all 4 sides of the mould twice each against the table.
- Place your hand below the mooncake and knock the mooncake mould gentlly until the cake comes out.
- Place mooncakes on a baking sheet.
- Preheat oven at 190°C.
- Place mooncakes on a medium to high rack and bake for 5 minutes.
- Remove mooncakes from the oven and egg wash.
- Return to the oven for a further 7 to minutes until brown.
- Cool and best eaten a day or two later.