Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!
Today we want to share a little bit about a huge holiday that is celebrated around the world by many East and Southeast Asian people -- The Mid-Autumn Festival!
What is the Mid-Autumn Festival?
It’s a time to express gratitude for the bountiful autumn harvest. Celebrations can be a wide variety of things, from a large feast, kids playing games, decorating homes and streets with colorful lanterns, singing songs, and dancing. For our family, it’s a time to spend together eating delicious food, and most importantly (or fun?!), eating some sweet mooncake for dessert.
We thought it would be fun to make some homemade mooncakes, and share them with you guys!
When is Mid-Autumn Festival in 2021?
As the name implies, it takes place in the middle of autumn around the autumn equinox. It traditionally falls on the 15h day of the 8th month of the Lunar Calendar. This year, the mid-autumn festival begins on September 21st.
Is Mid-Autumn Festival the same as Mooncake Day?
You might have heard of this as Moon Festival, Mooncake Festival, in Chinese it is 中秋节. There are also many different names outside of China, such as Tsukimi in Japan, and Chuseok in Korea. It’s probably one of the most celebrated holidays in China, second only to the Chinese Lunar New Year.
Why do you celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival with Mooncake?
There is also a lot of folklore associated with this holiday, including the story of Chang’e, who is the moon goddess. I have written about this story already, so if you want to learn more and it is a really fun story, head on over to this post.
What are Mooncakes, or Snow Skin Mooncake?
Today I’m not making a traditional Cantonese style mooncake. Traditionally, they are made of pastry with flour and inverted sugar/golden syrup and baked. But to make my life easier and have something quick and delicious I’m making what they call a snow-skin mooncake or bīng pí yuèbǐng (冰皮月饼). It’s more similar to a mochi texture rather than a cakey or bready dough skin.
This doesn't get baked like the traditional mooncake and is eaten cold. I believe it originated from Hong Kong as a more contemporary version that is perceived as less fatty and lower in sugar, but it is still a desert after all!
There are also many different versions of mooncake throughout different regions and countries. Today, there are a lot of innovative flavors and styles, including the snow skin mooncake!
Fillings can range from more traditional ones like lotus seed paste and red bean paste, to more contemporary styles like ice cream, chocolate, and peanut butter!
Recipe for Snow Skin Mooncake 冰皮月饼
For the custard
40 g cornstarch
5 g all-pourpose flour
112 g sugar
5 large egg yolks
480 g whole milk
30 g unsalted butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup raspberry fruit (optional)
For the snow skin
60 g cornstarch, plus extra for assembly
100 g confectioners sugar
350 g whole milk
55 g vegetable oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Make the custard
You can make the filling a day in advance and keep it in the fridge.
Mix cornstarch, all purpose flour, and half of the sugar in a bowl.
Place milk and remaining sugar in a saucepan and heat over medium heat to 120-150°F. Stir in the sugar. Do not let it boil.
Place yolks in a large bowl and stir to break up the yolks. Add the cornstarch mixture, and whisk to combine to an even paste.
When the milk is warm, add to the yolk mixture 1/4 cup at a time while whisking continuously. Stir until all milk is added to a smooth mixture.
Pour mixture back into the saucepan and place over medium heat. Whist continuously until the mixture thickens, 2-5 minutes. This can happen quickly, so do not leave it! When it starts to thicken, turn off the fire and take it off heat, whisk vigorously. Scrape the bottom of the pot with a spatula and you should see a clean line when it is done.
Add butter and vanilla extract, mix well.
Pass through a sieve to remove any lumpy cooked egg.
Cover with plastic wrap touching the custard to avoid a skin forming. Chill completely, refrigerate 2 hours, or freeze 30 minutes.
Make the Snow Skin Dough
Combine glutinous rice flour, rice flour, cornstarch and sift in confectioners sugar. Mix well.
In another bowl, add milk, oil, and vanilla extract. Mix well.
Form a well in the middle of your flour mixture and add the milk mixture a couple tablespoons at a time, mixing well. Continue until the milk is added. The flour will become hard first, then loosen and turn into a runny batter.
Place a strainer above the bowl that fits in your steamer set up. Pour the mixture in, place the bowl in the steamer over medium-high heat, and steam for 15-20 minutes. The dough should become dense and opaque. Insert a spoon to check if it is done, it should come out clean. Let cool.
Place the bowl on top of a folded kitchen cloth to keep it still while taking a spoon or rice paddle to scrape the dough out. Knead for 5 minutes.
Switch to your hands and knead for another 5 minutes. The dough will become soft and smooth. It is a sticky dough, but do not add cornstarch. Form into a ball.
Wrap with plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
Measure out 27 g of custard and form into a ball. This may vary depending on your mooncake mold. If it is messy you can use gloves or refrigerate a bit longer for it to firm up. Cover with lid and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Measure out 100 g balls of snow skin wrapper. Cover and keep in the fridge until ready for assembly.
Place a ball of dough on a clean surface and work it into a thin circle. You can use a rolling pin if it doesn't stick, or your hands. Do not add cornstarch as you want the dough to remain sticky for closing.
Place a ball of custard in the center. Optional, add any raspberry or fruit you may like to the center.
Fold the dough up around the custard while gathering the skin around the custard. Pinch close and pinch excess dough off to keep the bottom thin and even. Place the pleat side down, loosely covered with plastic wrap.
Dust the mooncake with cornstarch, including the sides, and remove excess. You may want to dust the mold but I find it is not necessary and too much cornstarch will disturb the pattern.
Place your mooncake mold above the dough ball and press down firmly. Hold for 30 seconds for the pattern to imprint well. Gently release from the mold.
The snow skin mooncakes will have the best texture the day of, and you can serve right away. Otherwise, transfer to an air-tight container and store in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. Let it come to room temperature before eating. Do not freeze.
Karin is the co-founder of Arden Cove and co-creator of the Anti-Theft Waterproof Crossbodies - bags created for women who want all the practicality and safety features without compromising in style. Shop ArdenCove.com.