Chinese mooncakes classically consist of circular pastry shells filled with a sweet or savoury filling. Part of the appeal of mooncakes is the contrast in textures between the shell and the rich-tasting filling. Making Chinese mooncakes can be a little fiddly, which is why we've put together these three tips for making the perfect mooncakes first time around.
We used kueh moulds to make our mooncakes, but they still work well.
1. Use Lye Water In The Mooncake Dough
Lye water is a potent alkali used in small quantities to raise the pH of dough - use 4g per 100g of flour in the dough. In mooncakes the addition of lye water helps the dough to stretch which is crucial when pressing the mooncake into the mould. Lye water also helps the dough to develop a rich golden brown colour during baking whilst retaining its characteristic chewy yet tender texture.
2. Stir Fry The Azuki Beans
The mooncake filling needs to be solid enough that it can be rolled into a ball and the pastry stretched around the outside. Azuki beans are a typical filling for mooncakes bringing a distinctive, slightly earthy, nuttiness. Cook them in a pan of boiling water, then strain them and blend in a food processor. Add a little oil to a wok and 'stir fry' the azuki bean puree on a low heat for 20-30 minutes, stirring constantly until thickened.
3. Use Plenty of Flour With The Mould
When it comes to pressing the mooncake into the mooncake mould (we used kueh moulds, but they still work well), make sure to evenly roll the ball in flour first or it will get stuck inside the mould. Press firmly but slowly to avoid cracking the mooncake as it is stretched. To release the mooncake from the mould simply tilt the mould to one side and tap it firmly a few times until the mooncake drops out. Refrigerate the mooncakes for 30 minutes before baking.