ESSENTIAL HOMEMADE MOONCAKE TIPS.
The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival or Mooncake Festival, is a traditional festival celebrated in Chinese culture. You’ve probably read or heard about the cultural history of mooncakes, so this article won’t be covering that topic. Instead, we will be discussing about the important components of mooncakes, from golden syrup to alkaline water – to how to keep your baked mooncakes fresh.
How to make lotus paste for homemade mooncake?
- Prepare the lotus seeds. If you’re buying the whole lotus seeds, then you need to remove the green stems (it taste bitter) by cracking the seeds in half.
- Soak the lotus seeds overnight.
- Drain the lotus seeds and rinse again.
- In a pot, add lotus seeds and alkaline water (alkaline water helps to soften the lotus seed skin, so you can remove the skin easily at a later time)
- Drain off the water and let the lotus seeds completely cool and drain.
- Blend the lotus seeds with a blender.
- Heat the pan at low heat, and add oil and sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and turns golden in colour.
- Transfer the puree to a pan, and stir fry the puree until it becomes paste and thick.
- Add in maltose, and keep stirring until the paste is able to hold its shape.
- Let it cool completely, and store it in an airtight container.
How to make golden syrup for homemade mooncake?
Golden Syrup – is an inverted sugar syrup that is commonly used in making traditional mooncakes. You can also drizzle it on pancakes or waffles, as an alternative to honey or maple syrup. It has a golden amber colour with a thick and creamy texture.
Golden syrup is one of the most important ingredients to make tender, fragrant and moist texture mooncake skin because it helps to retain moisture. Besides that, it also helps to prolong the shelf-life of the mooncake.
It’s easy to make golden syrup at home, it only requires 3 ingredients, sugar, water and citric acid (Lemon Slices or Lemon Juice)
- Add sugar and water into the stainless pot.
- Turn heat to high, and stir to mix well. Stir occasionally until all the sugar is dissolved. (Make sure the sugar is completely dissolved, to avoid it sticking to the bottom of the pot)
- Add lemon juice or lemon slices. When the syrup is boiling, turn to low heat and let the syrup simmer (small bubble).
- From now on, don’t stir or touch the syrup.
- Continue to cook for about 45-60 minutes until the colour of the syrup becomes amber.
- When the syrup is done, remove pot from heat.
- Transfer the cooked syrup into a clean jar with lid, and let it cool before closing.
*Tip to check when it’s done.
The syrup should be golden amber colour (not dark brown), and the texture should be runny and thin.
*Can I make adjustments?
If the syrup texture is too runny or not thick enough, cook it a while longer.
If the syrup texture is too thick or hard, add some water and cook it again until it reaches your preferred consistency.
- If you plan to make mooncakes, the homemade golden syrup needs to be prepared at least two weeks in advance because it requires time for the texture to thicken and to develop its signature golden brown colour, as well as the aroma.
- When preserved correctly, the homemade golden syrup can last for more than a year.
- Sugar crystallization can be prevented by adding lemon during the boiling process. If the golden syrup is crystallized at the bottom of the container, you can transfer it back to the pot, add acidity (lemon) and boil it again.
- The longer you cook the syrup, the darker the colour becomes.
Alternatively, there are many ready-made golden syrup selections in the market, for example, Lyle’s Golden Syrup and Food Grade Golden Syrup. It helps you save time and most importantly, the taste is guaranteed.
How to make Kansui (Alkaline Water)?
Kansui (Alkaline Water) – is known as lye water, and a key ingredient to make traditional mooncake. Alkaline water is able to make the mooncake skin have an appetizing brown golden colour. Besides that, alkaline water can neutralize the acidity of the golden syrup, so adding alkaline water during the process of making the homemade mooncake dough can remove the sour taste of golden syrup.
There are 2 methods to make Alkaline water at home. One is via water with baking soda, and the other one is via water with baked baking soda. Baked baking soda version is recommended because once the baking soda is baked, it is easy to dissolve in water.
2 Ingredients: Baking Soda and Water
- Preheat the oven to 130oc
- Cover the baking tray with an aluminum foil, and spread baking soda evenly over the aluminium foil
- Put the tray into the oven, and bake for 1 hour
- After that, let it cool and store it in an airtight container
- When needed, add 1 teaspoon baked baking soda to 4 teaspoons water (1:4), stir to mix well.
- Avoid touching the baked soda with your bare skin, because it is a caustic substance and is strong enough to irritate sensitive skin.
- Don’t premix the solution when not required.
- After using the mould, do not use hot water to clean the mooncake mould, because it will damage the mould structure and shorten the lifetime. Simply use a brush to wipe out the left-over flour.
- Keep in a cool and dry place, away from heat and direct sunlight.
How to store homemade mooncakes?
Mooncakes are easy to deteriorate when exposed to heat or put in damp places. Therefore, it is highly recommended to store traditional mooncakes in an airtight container and keep them in a cool and ventilated place. On the other hand, snow skin mooncakes should be stored in a refrigerator.
For traditional mooncakes, it can be kept up to 15 to 30 days (depending on the filling) while snow skin mooncakes can be stored for up to 10-20 days in a refrigerator.
Can I keep the homemade mooncake in the refrigerator?
Yes, you can keep the homemade mooncake in the refrigerator which will extend the preservation time of the mooncake. However, for some types of mooncakes, the taste and flavours will be affected once you put it in the refrigerator. Avoid placing the mooncake together with other foods, to prevent other foods from interfering with the taste of the mooncakes.
Do not consume if you find out that the mooncake is discolored or smells unpleasant.
How to take care of a wooden mould?
- Before you first use the wooden mooncake mould, do not wash it with water.
- Brush the whole mooncake mould with cooking oil, and rest it for one day, in order to prevent the wood from cracking, thus prolonging its lifetime.
And there you have it! We have compiled and answered some of the most frequently asked questions that you may or may not already know the answers to. Regardless, this article is a good refresher for some of you. Happy Mooncake Baking and Mid Autumn Festival to you!