Mooncakes are normally filled with a sweet center like lotus nut paste, red bean paste or assorted nuts and candied melon. The prized ones even contain salted duck yolk for a nice salty-sweet balance.
My daughter, alongside many other children, generally prefer their mooncakes without filling. There’s something about the dense filling that’s not appealing to young palates. I was the same way when I was a kid.
This recipe is for basic mooncakes. In our household, we sometimes call them “doll” mooncakes, an acknowledgement of the young eaters. These beauties are soft yet slightly chewy. (They are not light and airy in the traditional sense of the word “cake.”) You could also use cute animal molds for this recipe; in fact, many Asian bakeries do, and the kids’ love it.
The sweet component of this recipe is the golden syrup. I’ve chosen to make it from scratch, which involves bringing sugar syrup to a rich brown color (or a “soft crack” stage at 285 ⁰F – for all you confectioners out there!), and then “loosening” the syrup by adding water to bring it to a pourable consistency similar to honey. If you’d rather not work with high-temperature sugar, you could simply buy premade golden syrup at your favorite grocery store. I should mention I have not tested this recipe with store-bought golden syrup.
I hope you enjoy making these treats. Put your own spin into it and make the mooncake tradition your own. If you have kids, get them to help you mold the mooncakes; they’ll love seeing a ball of dough “magically” transform into a pretty cake with intricate design.
Please take pictures and show me how yours turn out!
|18 pieces||2 hours|
|Cook Time||Passive Time|
|15 minutes||1 hour|
Mooncakes are baked goodies. When it comes to baking, it's best to stick with weight measurements for more consistent results. However, I've also provided the approximate volumetric equivalents. I've chosen to go the way of metric measurements (grams) for better accuracy with some of the small amounts of ingredients.
- 100 g water or 1/2 cup
- 400 g cane sugar or 1-3/4 cup
- 10 g lemon juice or 2-1/2 teaspoon
- 300 g all-purpose flour or 2 cups
- 200 g golden syrup or 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons
- 75 g vegetable cooking oil or 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon
- 10 g lye water or 1-1/2 teaspoon
- 2 g vanilla extract or 1 teaspoon
- 1 each egg beaten, plus 1 teaspoon water for egg wash
- Golden Syrup: The first 3 ingredients listed are all you need to make your own golden syrup. A candy thermometer is not a requirement but helpful if you have it. If you're comfortable working with high-temperature sugar, you could do this by sight. Or you could simply buy premade golden syrup like Lyle's Golden Syrup at your favorite grocery store. They run around $5 - $6 (ish) for an 11 oz bottle. I have not tested this recipe with store-bought syrup.
- Put water, sugar and lemon juice in a pot and bring to a boil on medium heat. Continue on a slow boil while monitoring the temperature of the syrup. Bring the temperature up to 285 ⁰F (the syrup will be a rich brown color), then very slowly add water to the pot to gradually bring the temperature back down to 235 ⁰F. Allow syrup to cool completely before using.
- CAUTION: Because the syrup is considerably above the boiling point of water (212 ⁰F), much of the added water will immediately flash and possibly cause burns. Be extremely careful. Be sure to trickle the water into the pot very slowly. You could cut back on the flashing by adding hot or off-the-boil water.
- Dough: Lye water is an alkaline solution, usually found in Asian markets as potassium carbonate and sodium bicarbonate solution.
- Put oil, golden syrup, vanilla and alkaline solution in a bowl. Whisk the mixture until well-mixed (emulsified). Fold the flour into the liquid mixture. As the dough starts to form, use your hands to mix in the rest of the flour.
- You should get a soft but workable dough once the flour has been incorporated. Avoid overworking the dough. Cover the dough and let rest for an hour in the refrigerator.
- Preheat convection oven to 375 ⁰F.
- Divide the dough out into 30 g (1 ounce) portions. Roll each portion into a ball.
- Dust the mooncake mold with flour, then insert a dough ball. Place the mold upright, then press down, and release the molded cake. (I use a 50 g mold purchased on ebay.)
- Arrange cakes in a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Mist top of cakes with water (to avoid cracking). Bake for 6 minutes, then remove from the oven. Brush the cakes with egg wash, return to the oven and bake for another 6 to 8 minutes until golden brown.
- Do not overbake. The cakes will be very soft when they’re hot off the oven. They will stiffen (but still remain soft) as they cool.
- Cool the cakes and store in an air-tight container. The cakes are best served after they’ve rested for 24 hours.