The Mid-Autumn Festival is coming up and this year it falls on September 15th which is the 15th day of the eighth month on the Lunar calendar. This date is called 中秋节 in Chinese. In Cantonese it is Jūng-chāu Jit and in Mandarin it is Zhōngqiū Jié. It is considered the second most important Chinese Festival after Chinese New Year.
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On this day the moon will be full and at its’ roundest and brightest which symbolizes prosperity and happiness. It is a day for families to get together to eat a reunion dinner, appreciate the beauty of the moon, play with beautiful lanterns, and of course eat mooncakes, which is one of the key traditions of this festival. If you would like to know more about the festival check out my good friend, The Smoo Diaries for her post on CHINESE MID AUTUMN FESTIVAL AND EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW! She’s got some amazing posts on Chinese roots, culture and heritage.
PHOTO CREDIT: THESMOODIARIES.COM
Mooncakes are traditional Chinese pastries eaten to celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival. The festival involves giving, receiving and eating mooncakes. The mooncakes are round, which symbolizes reunion of a family and the full harvest moon.
Most mooncakes are typically 4 inches wide and 2 inches thick. A rich thick filling of red bean or lotus seed paste is enveloped by a thin, tender pastry skin and may contain yolks from salted duck eggs. These yolks symbolize the full moon. Imprinted on top of the mooncake is the Chinese characters for “longevity” or “harmony”. These mooncakes are usually eaten in small wedges with Chinese tea.
Mooncakes vary depending on the region they are produced. Today’s post will take us to the Suzhou Region near Shanghai, for their Suzhou-style mooncakes. Typically these mooncakes have both sweet and savoury types, but we will be making the savoury type, which is a thin, crispy flaky pastry skin enveloping a rich ground pork filling.
Suzhou Savoury Mooncakes
Makes 12 Mooncakes
Ingredients: Filling: 250 grams ground pork 1 green onion stalk, super finely chopped 1/2 teaspoon minced ginger 1 clove minced garlic 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt or mushroom seasoning/chicken essence 1.5 tablespoon tapioca starch 1 1/2 teaspoon sugar 1/8 teaspoon white pepper 1 tablespoon light soy sauce 1 teaspoon oyster sauce 1 tablespoon sesame oil 2 teaspoon shaoxing wine Oil Dough: 1 cup + 2 tbsp (170grams) all purpose flour 90g lard or butter, at room temperature Water Dough: 1 cup + 2 tbsp = 170grams (200grams) cup all purpose flour 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon sugar 1/3-1/2 cup ice cold water 30g lard or butter, cold from fridge Egg Wash: 1 egg, whisked 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
For the filling:
In a large bowl, combine all the filling ingredients.
Shape into 12 balls. Cover lightly with cling wrap and place in the fridge.
For the Oil Dough:
Combine all the ingredients and knead to form a dough ball.
Divide into 12 even-sized balls (feel free to use a scale to weigh).
Wrap with cling wrap and let the dough rest for 30 minutes in the fridge.
For the Water Dough:
Add the flour and sugar to a mixing bowl.
Next add the lard and cut into the flour with a fork. It should resemble oatmeal.
Slowly add the water in 3 to 4 batches and mix with a fork until the dough forms a loose ball.
Knead the dough to form a very smooth dough ball. Dust with extra flour if needed.
Divide into 12 even-sized balls. Wrap with cling wrap and let the dough rest for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and the baking rack should be positioned in the centre of the oven. Prepare a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Have a small bowl of flour available for dusting when needed.
Take one piece of the water dough, and press into a small round disc.
Next place the oil dough in the centre and envelope with the water dough.
Close the seal, place seam side down and use your palm to flatten into a disc.
Using a rolling pin, roll out into a long oval shape.
Next roll it into a tight cigar
Using a rolling pin, roll out into a longer oval shape.
Next roll it into a tight, short cigar
Stand the bundle up right, and then press it flat.
With a rolling pin, roll out the dough into a 3 1/2-inch disc. Make sure the dough is not too thin!
Add a ball of meat filling in the centre of the disc. Be careful not to overstuff. Seal tightly.
Flip the mooncake seam side down and lightly press the dough to shape into a round mooncake shape.
Brush each cake with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Repeat all the steps with the remaining pieces of dough and filling. Place these mooncakes on the baking sheet.
Place the baking sheet into the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. The cakes should turn golden brown.
Best served immediately with tea.
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