Monday, September 13, 2010
How old is the mooncake?
Although mooncakes have been displayed for sales in many Kit Ai Tiam (grocery stores) since early June, I didn't realise that the Mid Autumn Moon Festival is next week (22/09/2010) until I came across this sign at the shopping mall, yesterday. It also explains the urgency for the shopkeepers to sell their stock of mooncakes by slashing their prices up to 50% cheaper as the date draws closer. I love mooncakes and I paid a premium price to have a piece of this "once a year delicacy", when it first came out for sales three months ago. I must admit that it is like eating the Christmas pudding before Christmas. I am amazed by the varieties of mooncakes available in the shops. The Chinese community in Sydney comes from different parts of China as compared with Singaporean Chinese who are mainly of Southern China origins. Regional differences have resulted in mooncakes of various appearances, flavors and tastes being imported to cater for the different groups. Starting from the north, the traditional Beijing mooncake, like sesame cake, is very crisp. Jiangsu mooncake have many thin flakes of dough cover. And when it comes to Guangdong mooncake which are familiar to many Singaporean Chinese, it is more like a pastry with stuffing such as lotus seed, red bean, or mung bean paste and with or without salted duck egg yolks. Of course, in Singapore, mooncakes nowadays come in different flavors and sizes. There are too many variants of the mooncake to be mentioned here. Every year, new type of fillings are offered. For instance, mooncakes containing durian paste and pineapple, which were considered novelty items at their time of invention have in recent years become history. I can remember as a child growing up in Singapore, piglet shaped biscuits were also sold together with the mooncakes as a child's snack. They often come individually packaged in small bamboo weaved baskets, to symbolize piglets being bound for sale. I do not know whether these traditional biscuits are still available in Singapore. Because those bargain priced mooncake at the shops are a season old (three months is ancient in the mooncake world), my wife and I have decided to try our hands at making these moon cakes colloquially known as snowskin mooncakes" or "ice-skin mooncakes" (冰皮 or 冰皮月餅) at home from a recipe sent by her aunt from Singapore.
Snowskin Mooncake Recipe:
150 gm fried glutinous rice flour
200gm icing sugar
1/2 cup cold water.
500gm filling of your choice. (we use red bean paste)
1. Sieve glutinous flour and icing sugar.
2. Add shortening
3. Add water. Mix well to form soft dough. Set aside for 30 minutes
4. Divide dough into portions of 30 gm each.
5. Flatten dough to wrap up 60 gm of filling
6. Seal up and press into floured mould.