How to Make Assorted Flavor Mooncakes – Sazi Hotel
Secrets to Making Traditional Assorted Flavor Mooncakes
Mooncakes with a deep orange hue, intricate patterns, crack-free crust, and a balanced filling that combines the sweetness of candied winter melon and lotus seed paste with the richness of lard, Chinese sausages, and the nutty crunch of cashews and pumpkin seeds, all enhanced with aromatic kumquat leaves, bring back the nostalgic flavors of olden times.
1. Prepare the Syrup
It’s best to prepare the mooncake syrup a few months in advance as aged syrup results in a more beautiful color when baking. To make syrup: Combine 1 kg of sugar with 600 ml of water in a pot. Stir well and bring to a gentle boil over medium-low heat. Once the sugar is dissolved, add thin slices of half a pineapple and juice from half a lemon, 30 grams of maltose, and a few drops of lye water. Continue to simmer, occasionally skimming off any impurities. When the syrup is one-third reduced, perform a cold water test by dropping a small amount of syrup into a bowl of cold water. If it forms a hard ball that doesn’t flatten, it’s ready. If it dissolves, cook it a bit longer. If it forms a hard, sticky lump, it’s overcooked; add some hot water and continue cooking.
2. Prepare the Mooncake Crust
The ideal ratio for mooncakes is 1 part crust to 2 parts filling. For mooncakes weighing 150 grams, each crust should be 50 grams and the filling 100 grams. To make 6 mooncakes weighing 150 grams each, you’ll need 200 grams of all-purpose flour (you can use a mix of all-purpose and low-gluten flour), 135 grams of mooncake syrup, 30 grams of vegetable oil, 5 grams of peanut butter, and 1 gram of baking soda.
Mix the crust ingredients: Combine 200 grams of all-purpose flour with 135 grams of mooncake syrup, 30 grams of vegetable oil, 5 grams of peanut butter, and 1 gram of baking soda in a mixing bowl. Stir until there is no dry flour left.
Knead the dough: Place the dough on a silicone mat or a flat surface and knead it for 1-2 minutes until it becomes a smooth and elastic ball. Don’t over-knead. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes, then divide it into 6 equal parts (about 50 grams each).
3. Prepare the Mooncake Filling
Chop the candied ginger, candied winter melon, Chinese sausages, and kumquat leaves (removing the veins). Roast the nuts (pumpkin seeds, cashews) until fragrant, then crush them. Prepare the lard.
Prepare the mixed filling: In a pan, combine 150 grams of Chinese sausages, 150 grams of lard, and all the prepared ingredients (except for the kumquat leaves) along with a sauce made from 15 ml of sesame oil, 30 ml of rose wine, 30 ml of water, and 20 grams of maltose. Cook over medium heat, stirring to infuse the flavors. When the lard becomes clear, add 40-50 grams of glutinous rice flour and the kumquat leaves. Let the mixture cool for a while, and it will become cohesive. If it’s too dry, add a little more rose wine, maltose, or mooncake syrup. If it’s too wet, add more glutinous rice flour.
Divide the filling: Divide the assorted filling into 6 equal portions, each weighing 100 grams. Wear gloves, press the filling into shape, and set aside.
4. Assemble the Mooncakes
Flatten or roll out the crust (the edge should be slightly thinner), then place the filling in the center. Press down lightly to wrap the filling. Make sure there are no air gaps, as this can cause cracks in the mooncake.
5. Mold the Mooncakes
Sprinkle a thin layer of flour into the mooncake mold, then press the mooncake into the mold. Push down firmly and release to remove the mooncake. The mooncake should have clear patterns (even crust, moderate moisture, and the filling shouldn’t be too dry or wet).
6. Bake and Brush the Mooncakes
Preheat the oven to 200°C for 10 minutes. Then, bake the mooncakes three times, alternating with brushing. Prepare the brushing solution, typically made by mixing 1 egg yolk with 10 ml of water, then straining it through a sieve. Add 10 grams of sesame oil and 1 teaspoon of black sesame paste to the strained egg yolk mixture. Stir until well combined. For a more vibrant color, you can add a few drops of yellow food coloring or some peanut oil.
First Bake: Bake at 200°C for 10 minutes on the middle rack with both upper and lower heat. When the mooncakes turn slightly golden and the crust appears translucent, remove them from the oven, use a fine mist spray to lightly mist the surface, and let them cool.
Second Bake: Bake at 180°C for 10 minutes. If the mooncakes aren’t as golden as desired, brush them lightly again.
Third Bake: Bake at 180°C for 5 minutes. While the mooncakes are still hot, brush them lightly with a shine glaze. Properly baked mooncakes should be a rich golden color, firm but not too hard, and not have cracks in the crust.
Allow the mooncakes to cool on a rack, then store them in an airtight container with a desiccant pack. After 1-2 days, the oil from the filling will seep into the crust, making it softer and enhancing its appearance. Homemade mooncakes without preservatives should be consumed within 4 days if stored in a cool place or up to a week in the refrigerator.
Note: Common Mistakes
- Mooncakes puff up and crack because there are still air gaps when wrapping the crust around the filling or due to uneven crust thickness.
- The mooncake surface is not smooth because it was brushed while wet or the egg wash was too thick. When freshly baked, people tend to brush the mooncakes excessively, leading to a sticky and underbaked texture. A light brushing is sufficient.
- The filling tastes bitter, usually because the kumquat leaves were added too early. Allow the filling to cool slightly before adding the kumquat leaves to prevent bitterness.
Today, assorted flavor mooncakes can be customized with various ingredients like roast pork, barbecue pork, or shredded pork for a creative twist.