Mid-Autumn Festival is just around the corner so you’d expect mooncakes of every shape and size to appear all over Hong Kong. However, you wouldn’t expect to see any in the form of fruit, would you?
Sugarplum Patisserie in Mong Kok held a workshop which taught me how to make mooncakes that were very different to the ones you see in shops.
At the workshop, I learned how to make egg custard mooncakes with a contemporary twist. Traditionally, mooncakes are round – like the moon (duh!) – but the ones we made were shaped like fruit. Our instructor Kinny Chak has been making both traditional and not-so-traditional mooncakes for four years.
The mooncake-making process can be divided into three parts: the filling, the pastry and decoration.
Mooncakes are traditionally filled with lotus seed paste or red bean, but nowadays, the fillings can include anything from minced pork to ice cream.
To make an egg custard filling, you need an egg, obviously, and other ingredients such as evaporated milk, butter, milk powder, coconut powder and flour. They are all mixed together and steamed for 15-20 minutes. You must keep stirring the mixture every three minutes or so to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pot. After that, we put the custard in the fridge overnight to set.
To make the pastry, we mixed a bunch of ingredients in a bowl including flour, unsalted butter, milk powder, condensed milk, and maltose. The flour had to be sifted to get rid of any big lumps. This should create a nice dough which was then set aside for 20 minutes.
We divided the custard fillings and put them inside the pastry and then moulded them into our desired shape. I chose to make banana- and mango-shaped mooncakes. We then used a brush to add some food colouring to make our mooncake fruits look more realistic. Once we were happy with the appearance of our mooncakes, we baked them in the oven at 170 degrees for 10-12 minutes. After the mooncakes are baked, it is best to leave them at room temperature for three days so that they become softer.
I used to think making mooncakes was something only the older generation would enjoy, but I’m surprised to say I found it really fun!
There is a saying in Chinese, “Easy to learn, difficult to master”. This is how I feel about mooncakes. Making mooncakes was easier than I imagined, but it takes years to truly master the art.
If you don’t have any plans on Saturday, why not come and join the mooncake-making workshop and try your hand at making some delicious sweets before the Mid-Autumn Festival.
For the filling:
7g evaporated milk
23g condensed milk
18g milk powder
1 pinch coconut colouring powder
90g coconut milk
18g low-gluten flour
18g custard Powder
For the pastry:
105g low-gluten flour
4g custard powder
10g condensed milk
18g milk powder
15g mango colouring powder
35g unsalted butter