Shanghai mooncakes are one of the lesser known variations of mooncakes that I personally feel, should be made known. It’s light, flaky, buttery pastry and the richness of the yolk inside, makes this simple variation of mooncakes the pastry of choice this Mid-Autumn Festival.
The Mid-Autumn festival, or also known as “Zhongqiu Jie” traditionally marks the end of the autumn harvest which can be traced back as far as the Zhou Dynasty, the longest Chinese dynasty that reigned in the year of 1046 to 256 B.C. The festival is a time to give thanks to the lunar deity, Chang’Er, the moon goddess of immortality. An ancient belief says that the selfless woman drank the elixir of immortality to save herself from a courtier.
Today, the Chinese community celebrates Mid-Autumn Festival by giving family, friends and colleagues mooncakes. The small but filling pastry embosses various flavours and designs depicting the legends of the moon. The mooncakes which symbolise unity, are traditionally filled with lotus seed paste or red beans together with salted yolk. It has an appeal of a peculiar flavour of its own, blending the sweetness and saltiness together.
A Forgotten Regional Variation
The first thing that comes to mind when we think of ‘mooncakes’ is the circular, thick cookie-like pastry with a yolk filling inside. Little did we know that there is more to mooncakes than what has been shared with us. The Mid-Autumn Festival has a deeper meaning to the Chinese community.
There are more than seven variations or styles of mooncakes created according to the different provinces in China, which reflects their respective identities and culture in the preparation of the dough as well as the filling flavour. The Shanghai style is one of the less popular mooncake style here in Malaysia and I find that surprising indeed. Similar to French pastry, the skin of of the mooncake is layered, flaky and buttery, making it one of the more refined versions of mooncakes.
In conjunction with the Mid-Autumn Festival, let’s make some Shanghai mooncakes together!
- 350g cake flour or rose flour
- 60g milk powder
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 160g butter, room temperature
- 100g margarine
- 70g icing sugar
- 2 beaten eggs
- 360g lotus paste, divide into 12 portions, 80gm each. You can buy at any baking store or you can follow my recipe for the baked mooncakes. It can be replaced with any filling of your choice.
- 12 salted egg yolks, separated, washed and steamed
- Melon seeds
- Egg wash, 2 egg yolks and 1 tablespoon of milk
- Separate the egg yolks, washed and drained. Steam the egg yolks for 5 minutes.
- Toast the melon seeds at low heat on a pan for 5 minutes.
- Mix the egg yolks and sieve it.
- In a bowl, add flour, milk powder and salt.
- Combine the butter, margarine and icing sugar. Beat over medium speed until light and fluffy
- Add in the egg gradually, beat until well combined
- Add in the flour mixture in 3 parts and mix until well combined.
- Wrap the mooncake skin dough with cling wrap, keep refrigerated to rest for 60 minutes.
- Add some melon seeds to lotus paste, wrap egg yolk with the paste, shape into ball.
- Wrap the paste with mooncake skin dough and shape it into a ball.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 175°C for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven. Wait until it is cool and brush the top with some egg wash.
- Bake again at 175°C for 15 minutes, until golden brown.
- Wait for it to cool before serving. You may store these in the fridge for 2 weeks and re-heat in the oven for 8 minutes at 175°C before serving.
The Most Underrated Mooncake
I personally feel Shanghai Mooncakes make the best presents. It’s personal, delicate, very feminine in presentation and most of all, it gives us another glimpse of the rich culture and strong identities of the different Chinese provinces as well as the noble thought behind its humble appearance.
I hope you enjoy making these mooncakes and I hope you will be a little piqued and start researching about mooncakes and the Mid-Autumn Festival. The Chinese culture is more than chopsticks, The Lunar New Year and fortune cookies (FYI: It’s actually an American creation).
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