Over the moon for these cakes!
Celebrations include family gatherings, carrying lanterns and eating delicious moon cakes.
Over the last few months I have tried various mooncakes from Asian shops as well as from the Chinese bakery Butter Bubble in Oliver Plunkett Street and have to say that I like the delicate look of them and in most cases also the taste.
The traditional mooncake seems to come with a cured duck egg yolk in the middle surrounded by the filling which can be red bean, matcha, lotus etc. The egg yolk tends to be a bit on the dry side and it took me some time to get used to it but I am so intrigued by them that I now ordered the mould to make these little gems at home – watch out for my mooncake adventures.
My favourite so far was a custard filled one (minus the egg yolk) but some can also be savoury filled with pork (I haven’t come across one yet) which also includes seeds and nuts.
The lotus filling seems to be the most luxurious version and can sometimes contain additional egg yolk or even white kidney beans to keep the costs down. I tried the lotus one which came with an egg yolk – would love to try just the lotus version.
The snow skin version is made from glutinous rice and is not baked – I tried it with a pumpkin filling. It came in a lovely box and would make a beautiful gift – the mooncake itself looks very delicate as the rice gives it an almost translucent look. It is - in my mind – the most beautiful looking version.
Fillings can be sweet as well as savoury – my pumpkin filling was sweetened. Other fillings of mooncakes can be matcha tea, fruit and chocolate.
It seems to be a new trend to have ice cream mooncakes but I haven’t seen it yet. Someone told me that you can also find mooncakes filled with cream cheese and even seafood (I think I would skip that one).
When researching the festival, I was told that the shape of the mooncakes symbolises completeness and reunion and is therefore often given as a gift during the festival. But in general, families come together and share food, play games and simply enjoy the season.
My accupunturess (not sure if that is a title) told me so much about the festival and was delighted how interested I was – apparently, her favourite filling of mooncakes in fruit based.
The origins of mooncakes can be traced back apparently over 3,000 years in China – the decorations of the mooncakes might even have concealed secret messages to be passed around by rebels but that might be just a tale.
I simply love these little gems and will try to make them myself – even so it would be outside of the Mid Autumn Festival and if customs is to be followed, you wouldn’t eat mooncakes outside of the festival period (as we won’t eat mince pies outside of Christmas) but I might just tempt some people.
Insert: The wonderful detail in a mooncake. Photo: Bia Sasta