Traditional Lotus Mooncakes

Happy Mooncake Festival.

The extent of my knowledge about the Mid-autumn Festival is, admittedly, limited. What I do know is that a glorious cake, known as the mooncake, is a traditional part of the celebration and they’re available, always beautifully packaged, in Chinese supermarkets around this time of year. Whatever else the Festival entails, mooncakes have to be the best bit. Surely.

These Chinese cakes are characterised by a stretchy, imprinted crust and a centre made of a dense lotus or bean paste and sometimes whole salted egg yolks. Very different in taste and texture to the kind of cakes we’re used to in Oz, but all the same, for those with a sweet tooth who aren’t opposed to flavours that tend to the Eastern palate, these are super easy to polish off. 

Perhaps I’d treat myself to more of them, if they weren’t so darned expensive. Best blip on my bargain radar is $8 for a single 10cm cake. And upwards seems to be norm at most places. Chinese grocers are making a killing. 

With the Festival starting in four days, this was a good bit of motivation to try baking my own. Dosh-saving aside, though, I have been itching to make these for some time. Just because. 

Here’s my attempt at lotus mooncakes. 

One small step for the steam oven, one giant heap for mooncake time. 

(Couldn’t resist.)

I took one to try just out of the oven and I am pretty pleased. I’ll leave the rest to sit for 2-3 days, as this will apparently allow the crust to take on a stretchy quality. 

Taste verdict Moreish. Out with tradition: no festival needed to enjoy these bad boys.

CNY Walnut Cookies

These Chinese New Year walnut cookies are super quick to make, use minimal ingredients, and are literally amaze-balls. 

Ingredients: 1 cup cake flour, 1/4 cup sugar, 70g butter, salt, 80g walnuts, chopped and some reserved for the topping, splash of milk

Prep: Cream sugar and butter. Add flour and salt, and mix well. Add in walnuts and milk. Roll into balls and top with reserved walnuts. 

Bake at 180 degrees for 25 mins. And that is it!

Immediately out of the oven they are soft. Give them 10 mins to rest and harden up to avoid disappointment.

Taste verdict Go nuts with this one.

Dutch Almond Fingers

Dutch almond fingers are a pastry to which I am extremely partial. I decided to bake a batch today after an odd craving for the stuff came out of nowhere and began my brief but impassioned obsession with the store-bought variety. This made for some hugely satisfying, sinfully addictive, lunchtimes.

The buttery goodness of a crispy, crumbly crust and frangipane filling, and the fragrance of toasted almonds does make this is a favourite.

Taste verdict One does not simply get over a good Dutch almond finger or two.

Duck and Chicken Bao

First buns in the oven. A batch of steam oven-proofed bao with a filling of duck and chicken.

Out of the oven:

 Taste verdict To make again, and to try with different fillings.