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Mooncake Madness

In mid-August I realized that the Chinese Mid-Autumn festival was fast approaching. For years, I had wanted to make our own mooncakes, which, besides going out to view the full moon, was a main feature of the festival.

Many expats that I know really don’t love mooncakes. They are the Chinese equivalent of American fruitcakes…dry, tasteless and accepted with feigned appreciation.

This year, I wanted to try to make expat-friendly mooncakes.

However, I also wanted to make some traditional ones that we could unreservedly give to our Chinese friends.

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The first step was to buy the mooncake molds. I had one custom made from this Taobao store because if I’m going to make my own there’s no point in making it look like a store-bought mooncake. I had one made that said, “Hope”.

The second step was to buy a new oven. Our old oven was finally ready to retire. Lately, we were lucky if we could get it up to 350F let alone keep it there. Most of the time it hovered around 275F. We chose a double capacity oven  which is also a favorite of expats we know.

Third, I had to learn how to make mooncakes. So I hung out at my friend’s bakery for one afternoon and made a couple hundred mooncakes, just to get a feel for how it’s done.

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Finally, since I didn’t have enough time to make my own adzuki bean and lotus seed pastes (let alone salt-cure a bunch of duck egg yolks), I bought the quality fillings at wholesale price from my baker. (I tasted, they weren’t bad.)

Let me not forget to mention that we invited a bunch of friends over to make mooncakes with us. Since 98% of Chinese don’t own ovens (directly proportional to the number of Americans who don’t own woks), they buy their mooncakes from bakeries so the chance for some of them to actually make their own was exciting and novel.

We ended up having two night’s worth of parties. It was a blast!

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The night of party #1, I first had to bake the duck eggs for 10 minutes at 200F.

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Schäfer and Sianna watch as I get the dough ready.

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Weight really matters with mooncake molds. You don’t want too much or too little.

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I taught everyone how to measure out the 85 gram balls of filling, wrap dough around them, dust them with flour and press them into the molds. You flip the mold upside down and whack it on a cutting board.

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Bang! There it is!

In black and white contrast for your character viewing pleasure. 盼望=Hope.

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Bake for 20 minutes at 350F. You can then brush egg yolk on them and bake for another couple minutes if you with a more golden mooncake.

Well, after I demonstrated the process they were off!
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The kids had a great time at the mooncake making party!

There were plenty of mooncakes for everyone to take several to share hope with their friends and family.


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In the end, you’re the proud owner of a peck of mooncakes. Now you’re ready to give them out like a Saint Nicolas of Mooncakes!

Ho! Ho! Ho! Happy Mid-Autumn Festival! 中秋节快乐!

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