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  • This pastry,

  • this,

  • and this.

  • They're all mooncakes.

  • The emblematic pastry of the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival,

  • which marks the arrival of the full moon in early fall.

  • It was traditionally a time to celebrate the harvest.

  • But now it's more about congregating with family

  • and eating trays and trays of mooncakes.

  • But what exactly is a mooncake,

  • where did it come from,

  • and what are all the different varieties?

  • Legend says the mooncake dates back to 14th-century China,

  • when the Han Chinese fought against their Mongolian rulers

  • allegedly smuggling messages inside the cakes.

  • The mooncake variations are endless.

  • For simplicity's sake, we've broken them down into three types.

  • This is the most well-known type of mooncake.

  • It's prevalent in Guangdong Province and in Hong Kong,

  • and usually comes stuffed with lotus or red bean paste

  • Some have a salted duck egg yolk center.

  • Most mooncakes nowadays just have the bakery name

  • or the mooncake flavor printed on top,

  • but this Hong Kong shop has been making a line of mooncakes

  • with protest messages on them,

  • tied to recent demonstrations in the city.

  • The skin is actually quite complicated to make.

  • The dough is a wheat flour base bonded together

  • with lye water and golden syrup.

  • Golden syrup is made by cooking plain table sugar with acid.

  • The fructose in the syrup attracts water

  • and helps the skin retain moisture.

  • Lye water, which is alkaline,

  • is added to neutralize the syrup's acidity

  • and speed up the process of browning in the oven.

  • The result is a tan and moist dough

  • that can be easily shaped with various molds.

  • Unlike Cantonese mooncakes,

  • the Suzhou variety,

  • which hails from the eastern Chinese city of Suzhou,

  • is flaky and comes in a meat-filled savory form.

  • And this restaurant in Shanghai

  • has been making it the traditional way for years

  • with lard instead of butter.

  • Savory mooncakes are so popular

  • that this other bakery across town

  • practically has a cult following.

  • They see a steady line of customers

  • who are obsessed with their pastries,

  • some lining up as early as 3 am.

  • I learned how to make these a couple years ago.

  • The recipe is similar to the savory one,

  • except that it uses red bean paste instead of meat

  • and butter instead of lard.

  • It's also easier for the home cook

  • and here's how to make it.

  • There are two types of crust,

  • a soft water crust and a flaky pastry crust.

  • So we're going to start off.

  • This is flour, I've added a little bit of sugar in there.

  • It's combined with butter and water, and then kneaded together.

  • So it's getting a little bit more smooth

  • and what I'm trying to do right now

  • is to just get the flour off the edge of the bowl

  • so the bowl is clean.

  • That's how you know the dough is done.

  • After that, it's the flaky oil dough, which is just butter and flour.

  • So the reason why I'm using butter instead of lard

  • is because it's more accessible to the home cook.

  • I have no idea where to buy lard.

  • So you can see it's coming together slowly.

  • It's kind of like a Play-Doh consistency.

  • It's very chalky.

  • Then I divide the two types of dough into nine pieces.

  • And layer them by wrapping them into each other,

  • rolling them out, and then folding them onto one another.

  • So the purpose of this is to create as many layers as possible,

  • so when you bite into it, you'll see a flaky crust.

  • Or else it's just a boring, old dough ball.

  • This is what it's supposed to look like.

  • Kind of has like a snail exterior.

  • I then put in a red bean filling and smooth out the dough.

  • Next, I use an egg yolk wash to give it a shine

  • and top them all off with a pinch of black sesame seeds.

  • It's then baked for 20 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • That was pretty good.

  • You can actually taste the flakes,

  • and the red bean inside

  • adds this creamy consistency throughout.

  • And may I say, I think Hanley, our cameraman,

  • likes it very much as well.

  • Isn't that right, Hanley?

  • Yay!

  • So there you have it.

  • Three different types of mooncakes,

  • three different ways to make them,

  • and three different ways to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival.

  • Happy eating!

  • If you're into baked goods

  • we did this whole story on pineapple buns in Hong Kong.

  • Click this link for more

  • and as always don't forget to subscribe to @Goldthread2.

This pastry,

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B2 dough red bean lard flaky syrup crust

Mooncakes: What Are They and How Are They Made

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/10/24
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