Moon Cake

If you think making Moon Cake is intimidating, read on to see how easy and fun it can be. Sweet thin dough filled with sweet lotus paste, it is time that you make these delicious Chinese goodies at home.

Moon Cake photo showing a sliced piece to expose the fillings inside.

Moon Cakes remind me of how my father brought these goodies back home sometime around September or October from his work. We are not Chinese, but my Father worked at a bank owned by A Flipino-Chinese citizen, and the time before the Christmas atmosphere started in the Philippines had always guaranteed a box or two of these delicious moon cakes for us.

Moon cakes on a serving plate.

What are Moon Cakes?

Traditionally in China, it is said that Moon cakes are eaten at the Mid Autumn Festival, also now called as the Moon Cake Festival. It is when people admire the fullness of the moon. It is some kind of a celebration and reunion for the Chinese families.

Although they are called cakes, Moon Cakes are more like pastries. They are characterized by the intricate molding or designs on their exterior which is a thin sweet dough. They are filled with a sweet paste and most often with yolks in the middle.

Moon cakes on a serving plate.

The sweet paste is traditionally made of dried lotus seeds. They are white, shell-like dried husks (photo in the process below) that are soaked overnight to soften, then cooked to mashable consistency to produce a sweet paste. Mooncakes can also be filled with sweet mung paste made of red mung beans.

In this version, we will use lotus seeds to make the filling. And we are also adding the yolks. Delicious, delicious stuff!

Moon Cake: Step by Step Process

Make the Filling

  • Soak the lotus seeds overnight. Drain and rinse with water, removing the green bits that maybe inside some of the lotus seeds as you rinse.
  • Drain after rinsing.

Soaked dried lotus seeds.

  • Add the lotus seeds in a medium non-stick saucepan. Add water just enough to cover them. Over medium heat, bring to a boil and continue to cook until the seeds are very soft and mashable. Drain.
  • Transfer drained lotus seeds on a food processor. Puree until smooth. You can add 7-8 tbsp of water to help with processing the lotus seeds.
  • Transfer the pureed lotus seeds in a non-stick saucepan. Add sugar and cook it over medium heat, stirring often until the liquid is absorbed and the mixture is very thick. Stir in coconut oil. Continue to cook until the mixture is glossy and forms a dough that sticks to a spoon. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl. Chill it in the fridge.

Cooking the lotus paste filling for the mooncake.

Make the Dough

  • In a bowl, combine golden syrup, oil and lye water. Gradually add the cake flour and stir with a large spoon to moisten the powder. Use your hands to gather the mixture into a dough. Wrap the dough in plastic film and refrigerate for 30 minutes. This will help to firm it up.
  • Shape the dough into a log and cut into 12 portions.
Making the dough for the mooncake, and the salted duck egg yolks.
On the left, making the mooncake dough and on the right, the dough shaped into a log and cut into 12 portions and the salted duck eggs.

Prepare the Yolk  and Paste Filling

  • Wash the salted duck eggs. break them open and scoop out the yolks. Rinse them with water and pat them dry. In a cutting board, cut each yolk in half to get 12 pieces. Place them in a bowl.
  • Scoop about a tablespoon of the lotus filling in your palm. Flatten it and place a piece of the yolk in the center. Fold the lotus paste around the yolk to cover it. Shape the filling into a ball. Repeat with the rest of the lotus paste filling and yolks.

Making the mooncake filling: enclosing the duck egg yolks in the lotus paste.

Enclose the Filling Inside The Dough

  • Take one portion of the dough. Using a rolling pin, flatten the dough in between sheets of wax paper until it is about 1/4 to 1/8 inch thin.
  • Place one ball of filling in the center of the flattened dough.

Preparing to enclose the filling in the mooncake dough.

  • Fold the dough around the filling to cover, and shape it into a ball.
  • Repeat with the rest of the dough and balls of filling. You can dust with a little bit of flour to help with stickiness if you need to.

Wrapping the filling inside the moon cake dough.

Molding and Baking the Moon Cake

  • Take one ball of moon cake and place it inside the opening of the moon cake mold.
  • Hold the mold opening directly against your working surface and start to press down the mooncake plunger until you feel resistance. If you keep on pushing after this resistance, your mooncake will start to ooze out of the sides. That is your sign that you have pressed too much.

Using the mooncake mold to shape the pastry.

  • Lift the mold and continue pushing the plunger to release the shaped moon cake in your hands. Dust your mooncake mold sparingly with flour in between shaping and tap the excess to avoid the dough from sticking to it.
  • Repeat with all the remaining portions. Arrange them in a parchment-lined baking pan.

Pressing out the shaped moon cake out of the mold.

  • Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake the mooncake for 8 minutes. This stage firms them up so they hold their shape.
  • Take the pan out and brush a thin layer of egg yolk on the surface of the cakes.
  • Place it back in the oven and bake for 8-12 minutes, or until lightly golden.

Moon Cakes on a baking pan.

Then, enjoy the beauties and enjoy the deliciousness. Such a beautiful sight!

Pointers and Tips on Making Moon Cakes

  • Upon wrapping the balls of filling in the dough, you may need to patch some areas where the dough is too thin to cover the balls of filling. To do so, simply tear a small amount of dough from the other portions.
  • Lye water can be found in Asian groceries. It is a clear liquid like water, and it controls the acidity of the dough.
  • Golden syrup looks pretty much like corn syrup- amber in color, thick and smooth. I am not sure about any substitution for this but golden syrup can be found in the baking aisle of groceries. Golden syrup tends to produce tender texture in baked goods and helps the pastries to retain moisture.
  • Lotus seeds can be found in Asian groceries ( refer to the photo in the process above).
  • I used this moon cake mold (affiliate link). This recipe makes 12 small moon cakes.
Moon Cake photo showing a sliced piece to expose the fillings inside.

Moon Cake

Yield: 12 pieces
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Additional Time: 1 minute
Total Time: 1 hour 6 minutes

Sweet thin dough filled with traditional lotus paste, it is time that you make these delicious Chinese goodies at home.

Ingredients

For the Lotus Paste Filling

  • 1 cup dried lotus seeds
  • 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 tsp coconut oil
  • water

For the Dough

  • 1/4 cup golden syrup
  • 1/4 tsp lye
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • one egg yolk, for brushing the mooncakes

For the filling

  • 6 salted duck egg yolks (uncooked)

Instructions

Make the Lotus Paste Filling

  1. Soak the lotus seeds overnight. Drain and rinse with water, removing the green bits that maybe inside some of the lotus seeds as you rinse. Drain after rinsing.
  2. Add the lotus seeds in a medium non-stick saucepan. Add water just to cover them. Over medium heat, heat the mixture until boiling, and continue to cook until the seeds are very soft and mashable. Drain the pot.
  3. Transfer drained lotus seeds on a food processor. Puree until smooth. You can add 7-8 tbsp of water here to help with processing the lotus seeds.
  4. Transfer the pureed lotus seeds in a non-stick saucepan. Add sugar and cook it over medium heat, stirring often until the liquid is cooked off and the mixture is very thick. Add coconut oil. Stir it into the mixture and continue to cook until the mixture is glossy and forms a dough that sticks to a spoon. Remove from heat, transfer to a bowl and chill.


Make the Dough

  1. In a bowl, combine golden syrup, oil and lye water. Gradually add the cake flour and stir with a large spoon to moisten the powder. Use your hands to gather the mixture into a dough. Wrap the dough in plastic film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. Shape the dough into a log and cut into 12 portions.


Prepare the Filling:

  1. Wash the salted duck eggs. break them open and obtain the yolks. Rinse them with water and pat them dry. In a cutting board, cut each yolk in half to get 12 pieces. Place them in a bowl.
  2. Scoop about a tablespoon of the lotus filling in your palm. Flatten it and place a piece of the yolk in the center. Fold the lotus paste around the yolk to cover it. Shape the filling into a ball. repeat with the rest of the lotus paste filling and yolks.


Enclose the Filling Inside The Dough:

  1. Take one portion of the dough. Using a rolling pin, flatten the dough in between sheets of wax paper until it is about 1/4 to 1/8 inch thin.
  2. Place one ball of filling in the center of the flattened dough. Fold the dough around the filling to cover, and shape it into a ball. Repeat with the rest of the dough and balls of filling. You can dust with a little bit of flour to help with stickiness if needed.


Molding and Baking the Moon Cake

  1. Take one ball of moon cake and place it inside the opening of the moon cake mold. Hold the mold opening directly against your working surface and start to press down the mooncake plunger
    until you feel resistance. If you keep on pushing after this resistance, your mooncake will start to ooze out of the sides. So that is your sign that you have pressed too much.
  2. Lift the mold and continue pushing the plunger to release the shaped moon cake in your hands. Dust your mooncake mold sparingly with flour in between shaping and tap the excess to avoid the dough from sticking to it. Repeat with all the remaining portions. Arrange them in a parchment-lined baking pan.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake the mooncake for 8 minutes. Take the pan out and brush a thin layer of egg yolk on the surface of the cakes. Place it back in the oven and bake for 8-12 minutes, or until lightly golden.


Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 208Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 325mgSodium: 639mgCarbohydrates: 26gFiber: 0gSugar: 12gProtein: 6g
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