Saturday, August 23, 2014
The Mid Autumn Festival or August Moon Festival is the second most celebrated holiday in Chinese culture. If you live in an area highly populated with Chinese people, there will be some sort of celebration around this time of the year. This holiday, to the Chinese, is like Thanksgiving to Americans; the first thing that pops up in your head when it is mentioned is, most likely, food.
In my childhood, moon cakes with lotus seed paste was the norm. I remember my parents used to participate in a moon cake program hosted by the local bakeries. Every month they would make a payment and by the time the festival came, they could redeem a certain amount of moon cakes. It worked like a savings program so the customers did not have to come up with a large amount of money to buy boxes of moon cakes for gifting.
Those were the old days when the economy in Asia was bad. But nowadays, Asia's economic success is undeniable. More and more world companies are eyeing this untapped industry. Luxury handbags, watches, automobiles, and wine, are status symbols, but when it comes to the Mid Autumn Festival, those with buying power will not be satisfied with just an ordinary-looking moon cake.
The Belgian chocolatier giant Godiva is one of those companies that are buying in on this opportunity. This limited edition chocolate box of moon cakes is especially crafted with Asian flavors, like ginger spiced mandarin orange mousse, goji berry mousse, and green tea infused chocolate ganache. I especially like the grapefruit black tea one--inside the black tea infused dark chocolate, there is a layer of crunchy grapefruit mousse with hints of lemongrass and vanilla. It provides different textures and at the same time incorporates some bold flavors.
For those chocoholics out there, there is now one more delicious way to celebrate the festival!
(The chocolate moon cakes are complimentary from Godiva. I am not compensated for writing this post.)
Friday, August 15, 2014
These exquisite moon cakes are created by innovative bakers from Hong Kong. A box of eight reportedly fetches almost HK$500 (~USD$65-70)!! The cake is filled with moist and rich custard with a nice coconut flavor. The recipe is straight forward but it takes some tricks and a lot of practice to create a nice and distinctive look.
I tried different recipes and finally came up with this one with modifications.
Ingredients to make 12 mini custard moon cakes, about 55g each
47g sugar 糖
182g cake flour 低筋麵粉
12g custard powder 吉士粉
18g half & half or evaporated milk 花奶
15g egg 蛋液
91g butter, softened 室溫牛油
Custard fillings 奶皇餡:
60g sugar 糖
18g cake flour 低筋麵粉
18g custard powder 吉士粉
18g milk powder 奶粉
25g condensed milk 煉奶
30g egg 蛋液
100g coconut milk 椰奶
30g butter 牛油
3 salted egg yolks, optional 鹹蛋黃
Egg wash: 1 egg yolk with 1/2 tsp water 掃餅面蛋液：一個蛋黃加半茶匙水
Syrup: 1 tbsp sugar dissolved in 1/2 tsp warm water 糖水：一湯匙糖溶於半茶匙水
Make the filling:
1) Mix sugar, flour, custard flour and milk powder in a large bowl. Add condensed milk, egg and coconut milk. Mix well and add butter. Pour into a shallow dish for steaming.
2) Steam for 15-20 minutes. Take out and mix it well. Let it cool and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.
Make the crust:
1) Cream room temperature butter with sugar in a stand mixer or use a whisk in a large bowl for a few minutes.
2) Add egg and half & half. Mix until incorporated.
3) Add the flour and custard flour and mix until incorporated. Do not over mix.
4) Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
1) Divide the filling into 12 balls about 25g each (put in a quarter of a salty duck egg yolk, if use). Divide the crust into 12 as well, 30g each.
2) Flatten a portion of the crust dough between two pieces of plastic wrap. Put in a portion of the filling and close up the seams.
3) Roll it in a small dish of flour. Put it in a moon cake mold and press. Continue with the rest the same way.
4) Bake in a preheated 480F oven for 5 minutes.
5) Take out the tray and brush very lightly with egg wash. Let them dry for 10 minutes.
6) Brush another layer of egg wash and return to the oven for 5 more minutes.
7) Take the mooncakes out and brush a layer of syrup. Then return to the oven and bake for one more minute.
8) Take out the cakes and let them cool completely on a rack. They can be kept at room temperature for up to 3 days or refrigerated for two weeks. They may be reheated in a 350F oven for 7-8 minutes. Do not microwave.
1) It is very important not to brush too much egg wash otherwise it will smear or distort the delicate pattern/design of the moon cakes.
2) Avoid rolling too much flour before pressing with the mold. Just enough to prevent sticking with the mold.
Friday, July 25, 2014
Custard Moon Cake 酥皮奶皇月餅
Place: Diamond Bar
In this hands-on class, you will learn how to make this popular and exquisite moon cake at home. No experience required. Moon cake molds and special gift packaging boxes are available for purchase.
Snowy Moon Cake 冰皮月餅
Place: Diamond Bar
This popular class is back by demand. Learn how to make this simple, easy-to-make and healthy moon cake. Moon cake molds and gift packaging boxes are available for purchase.
Each class is limited to 8 students. Questions and registration: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
This year's Mid Autumn Festival is on Sept 8, less than two months away. In order to make homemade moon cake, either the baked traditional kind or easy-to-make snowy moon cake, you will need an indispensable tool. This plastic moon cake mold is so much easier to use than the traditional wood mold that it makes the whole process a breeze.
Each set has six interchangeable disks that allow you to make cakes (63g) with six different designs. They are easy to use and clean. Each set is US$15 + $3 shipping (within US). Send me an email for inquiry or purchase: email@example.com
Free Demonstrations in LA County Libraries
August 2nd in Live Oak Library, Arcadia
August 30th in Duarte Library
Sept 6th in Temple City Library
(These molds are available for purchase after the demonstrations.)
Private Hands-on Class
Send me an email for registration. Class is limited to 8 students.
八月二日在Arcadia市的 Live Oak Library
八月三十日在 Duarte Library
九月六日在 Temple City Library
Thursday, July 10, 2014
"Fun to eat and easy to make" is the best description of this dim sum bao. A variation of mantau, the sliver thread roll is made by cutting the dough into many thin strips and wrapping them together in a bundle. The most common way to enjoy it after breaking open the outer layer is to pull out and eat the threads one by one. Some people like to dip it in condensed milk. I like the deep fried version: the outer layer is crispy while the threads inside are still soft.
I have been searching for a good English translation for the name of this bread: sliced roll, bread roll, etc, but I've given up and am now using my own translation.
For a successful roll, please read the whole recipe and pay attention to the notes below.
Friday, June 27, 2014
Oh summer is here...this means there will be plenty of mangoes, peaches, plums, watermelons, and lychee around. Lychee is a tropical fruit that originates in China. Through global trading and local cultivation, many countries around the world can also enjoy this delicious, flavorful fruit.
Saturday, June 14, 2014
When pastry chefs develop recipes, there are a few elements that they always have in mind. Being able to incorporate different textures is important in producing a delightful dessert. Furthermore, it would be wonderful if the dessert also has some acidity to balance the sweetness. Therefore this lemon tart truly satisfies all of the above: a creamy, smooth and tangy lemon curd with a sweet and crunchy meringue topping a flaky tart shell. A dessert made in heaven!!
Friday, May 23, 2014
Since I started making my own bread a few years ago, I have almost exclusively been using the Tong Zhong method. It gives me consistently soft and fluffy bread that lasts up to four or five days at room temperature. However, I learned this is not the only method for soft, long-lasting bread.
I have been exploring new ways to make bread with a higher percentage of whole wheat. Most breads that are labelled as whole wheat in the market are made with only 30% whole wheat flour while the majority is white bread flour. I think the main reason is not so much the cost but the nature of wheat flour.
Wednesday, May 7, 2014
Many of you would probably think fresh mango is the best choice to use in homemade mango ice cream. But contrary to that thought, freeze dried mango is a better option. Fresh fruits are best to enjoy when they are ripe and juicy. However, when they are used to make ice cream, the juice is your enemy. The more juicy it is, the worse it is to make ice cream. That may be the reason why watermelon is rarely used in ice cream even though it maybe good in making sorbet. Juice will turn into ice and make ice cream icy instead of creamy.
Friday, April 18, 2014
Another role that build up one's patience level is to be a cook. As it is said, no pain, no gain. To make a good meal, you simply have to put in time and effort. I am not referring to instant TV dinners or instant noodles. I have learned much about patience and perseverance through cooking and baking. Making yeast bread takes hours; aged dough takes days to mature; a successful batch of French macaron took me over ten trials to achieve.
Take these tea eggs as another trial of patience. Making hard boiled eggs does not require a lot of time nor patience. But to make delicious tea eggs, there is no shortcuts. In order for the marinade to infuse into the eggs, they have to sit overnight. Without patience, you will just have hard boiled eggs.
Remember, no shortcuts!!