The Mid Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival, takes place on the 15th day of the 8th month based on the Chinese lunar calendar. It occurs at the time of the year when the moon is at its fullest and brightest.
There are plenty of legends and history behind this fall celebration, but what I remember the most while growing up were the mooncakes that my mom made. Mooncakes are round pastries with a firm, glazed dough with fillings such as red bean paste, lotus bean paste, and even fruit, nuts, and meat. The round shape of the mooncakes symbolizes “reunion,” and as such people give them to friends and relatives to wish them a joyful and long life.
Though Chinese grocery stores sell mooncakes during the weeks surrounding the Mid Autumn Festival, I always found the store-bought cake filling to be too sweet or too artificially colored red for my liking. Perhaps it’s because I’m used to my mom’s mooncakes with red bean paste.
Some moon cake versions include a filling with a whole egg yolk in the middle surrounded by a bean paste. My mom never put whole yolks in her eggs, but some people really like them. When they cut their mooncakes into quarters, they’ll find a tasty bit of yellow yolk in each piece.
Here’s a recipe that does not include the yolk just like the kind I grew up eating. This recipe requires a mooncake mold. If you don’t have an Asian specialty store or a Chinatown nearby, search online like at Amazon.com to purchase.
- 2 cups red bean paste
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/4 cup dry milk powder
- 3 eggs
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup melted butter
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg yolk, beaten
- Preheat over to 375°F.
- Divide bean paste into 10 sections. Roll each into a ball.
- Sift together flour, baking powder and dry milk powder into a large bowl. Sift 2 additional times.
- Beat eggs and sugar in another large bowl until sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes using an electric mixer. Add melted butter and salt. Add flour mixture. Mix to a soft dough.
- Divide dough into 10 pieces and roll each piece into a ball. Flatten each ball into a 4-inch circle and gather edges together to enclose filling. Repeat with remaining dough and bean paste balls.
- Place cake into mold, then turn upside down and tap to remove cake. Place cake on baking sheet. Brush each cake with beaten egg yolk.
- Place a small pan of water in the oven for moisture and to prevent cracking in cakes. Bake 20 to 25 minutes until browned. Remove from baking sheet and cool on a rack. Serve immediately or wrap cooled cakes in wax paper or aluminum foil until ready to serve.
Find red bean paste filling in Asian grocery stores. For moon cake molds, search online to purchase if no Asian specialty stores are nearby. Whether you end up purchasing mooncakes or making them yourself, have a very happy Mid Autumn Festival celebration!
This article was originally posted on www.biculturalmama.com on September 16, 2015.
Maria Adcock is a Chinese American writer and creator of the blog biculturalmama.com which covers a wide range of topics including universal ones that cross cultural boundaries. Her professional experience includes over 15 years of professional experience in brand management, consumer marketing, direct marketing, sales, online/email marketing, research, and writing. Maria is very accomplished with publishing experience ranging from Entertainment Weekly, InStyle, Southern Living, and has written for several regional and national publications and websites.