(Bánh dẻo trung thu)
So the moon festival is coming close again, and already I have spotted arrays of moon cakes in various Asian shops around town. There are so many kinds, it is really amazing. The thing is, I have never been a big fan of moon cake. Every autumn festival, I am more than happy to share quarter of the cake with B. Better still, he can have all the filling as he likes, as I am only interested in pinching the outer crust/skin anyway.
Making moon cakes, nevertheless, is something special. It brings me back to my childhood years. In Vietnamese culture, Moon Festival (tết Trung Thu) is a children-only event. That day, we got to stay up late and organised a big party with other kids. Lanterns of various kinds and colors were lit up. Nowadays one can find a lot of different types of lanterns in Hanoi during mid-autumn festival. But for me, nothing beats the star-shaped lanterns (đèn ông sao). The pattern has been the same and unchanged since forever.
Of course, mid-autumn festival (tết Trung Thu) is a feasting occasion, featuring all sorts of autumn harvests. For us from northern Vietnam, autumn is the season for persimmons, and absolutely delicious pomelo. The best thing is a flat green young sticky rice dish, called cốm. I would trade anything for fresh cốm, something that I’m sure every Hanoian would miss when they think of autumn.
Actually, I would trade all the moon cakes I make for the fruits and com from Hanoi. But hey, in Australia, moon cakes are the closest things to autumn festival for a lot of us. And never mind the fact that we Australians actually celebrate moon festival in the middle of spring, the spirit is there .
Onto the basic snow skin mooncake. It’s perhaps the easiest type out there, and tastes quite delicious. Asian moon cakes are on the sweeter side, and the bean-based filling can be heavy, so I like to make them in mini size.
To make moon cake, you would need a special mould. From experience, the plastic kind is cheaper and actually easier to work with. I got mine from Singapore (thanks MIL!), but I know you can get them from eBay.
Ingredients for snow skin moon cakes are quite easy to get from Asian grocery store. Fried sticky rice flour (see photo, it’s not the normal kind) and sweet paste. I got black sesame, red bean and lotus seed paste. These readily made pastes are a bit sweet, but making them from scratch is a bit much for me these days.
Texture wise, these snow skin moon cakes are not as chewy as the ones I was used to. My MIL said this is a different kind? These have softer skin, and slight nutty aroma from the fried sticky rice flour.
My mould is 50g. You can work out the good ratio for your moulds after a few tries (i used roughly 50:50). Be creative and use more colors if you like. These moon cakes are best served with Asian fragrant tea, like jasmine or lotus tea. I think these are more Chinese-style, the Vietnamese ones are chewier, and the fillings are more complicated. Simplicity rules here, and I like it this way.
Printable recipe page
Made 25-30 pcs
200g fried glutinous flour
200g icing sugar
200ml filtered cold ưater
1/4 tsp pandan paste (or other flavoring and colors of choice)
Around 1kg of mooncakes paste – I used chestnut paste.
1. Mix the flour with icing sugar
2. Ad shorterning and blend well until well-mixed.
3. Stir in the water, stiring until a smooth dough is formed.
4. Divide the dough into two parts. Mix in the flavoring into one part. Knead until the color is mixed through.
5. Rest the dough for at least 30 minutes.
6. Prepare the paste – form the paste into balls of 30g each.
7. After resting the dough, pinch two pieces of dough from each of the colored dough. Tolal weight of the balls should be around 25g.
8. Sprinkle some rice flour onto a clean surface, roll the dough flat. Place the paste in the centre of the dough, wrap and shape it into ping pong ball shape.
9. Dust the dough with the rice flour. Dust the mooncake mould with flour, tapp off any excess.
10. Press the dough balls to fit the mould. Press. Inver the mould over, knock the bottom of the mould twice, and the mooncakes should be released.
11. rest in the fridge for 30 mins. Served at room temperature.