Thursday, 8 September 2011

Traditional Mooncake

This year's mid-autumn festival is indeed a special occasion. My better half is able to celebrate this Chinese festival with us, just in time before he leaves for the airport for a mid-night flight :)

The next 'biggest' thing for me is, I have finally attempted to make traditional baked mooncakes!


Even though I know in advance that I will be hosting this month's Aspiring Baker's event, I didn't think that I would be ready to make any traditional moocncakes when the theme was firmed up. I only changed my whole impression on making baked mooncakes when I picked up a magazine from the library recently. I was flipping through the pages when a picture of some beautiful mini mooncakes appeared right in front of my eyes. With the easy-to-understand instructions and detailed step-by-step illustrations, I started to think that making traditional mooncakes is not that difficult after all.

With the newly acquired knowledge, I set off to get the necessary ingredients. The recipe from the magazine has included instructions on how to make the lotus paste filling and golden syrup from scratch, I thought I should go for ready made ones this year. No matter what, I am a first-timer. I don't want my effort to go into waste if I failed miserably.

You will be surprised at how easy to transform the basic ingredients into these mooncakes, all ready to go into the oven. The dough or skin of the mooncake is made by a simple mixing of golden syrup, alkaline water, peanut oil and flour. Peanut oil is used to enhance the flavour, but I replace it with canola oil as I couldn't get any peanut oil that comes in small bottle form. The alkaline water helps to make the dough more stretchable, and allows the mooncakes to brown nicely upon baking. However, just a small amount is needed, if used more than recommended, it will give the mooncake a very dark colour. The important point to note about the dough is, you need to let it rest for at least 2 hrs or more before using it. This step is known as 醒面.

I am no stranger when it comes to wrapping the filling with the dough. I learned the trick when I first attempted to make some snowskin mooncakes years ago. You may ask what is so difficult about wrapping dough around the filling? It  may appear to be an easy task, but not when you are wrapping a dough that is only 15g while the filling is 35g. By right the dough to filling ratio should be 2:8, so I will actually have to use only 10g dough. But for newbies like me, I opted to up the ratio a little, I worked on 3:7 instead.


video
I am no professional baker, but since I am lousy with words, I think a video clip will be good to demonstrate how I went about wrapping the mooncake. As it is the school holidays, I got my younger son to help me take the video :) Notice the small piece of dough in comparison to the huge ball of filling? The trick here is to hold the dough between the thumb and index finger of one hand, and the thumb of the other hand should gently press the filling down while turning the dough and at the same time pushing the dough up to cover the filling. Sounds mind boggling right?! Besides the right technique of wrapping, another thing to note is, always dust your hands with flour to prevent the dough from sticking and tearing. Trust me, dust your hand lightly with flour every time you pick up the dough, it will make your mooncake making experience a more enjoyable one ;)

Stamping the mooncake was easy since the mould I have comes with a plunger. The only thing here is, instead of dusting the mould (I am not talking about the traditional wooden mould), I dust the wrapped dough with flour before putting it inside the mould. If you have dusted the mould AND the stamping plates with flour, some flour may get trapped inside the grooves of the patterns, and you may end up with a clump of flour on the imprints.

Baking the mooncakes requires one to have patience. First, before sending them into the oven, spray or mist them with some water. This is to prevent the surface from cracking, and especially good if you have dusted the dough with too much flour. After the first 10mins of baking, the half-baked mooncakes have to be left to cool for about 15mins. Wait for them to cool off before applying egg wash on the top or top and sides as preferred. The next thing is to watch them carefully during the second baking. As all ovens work differently, check every now and then to make sure they don't get over browned. Do stand by at the oven at the last few minutes before the baking time is up. Take out the moonies when you feel that the colour is right.


I made these mini mooncakes with tiramisu lotus paste (a better name for lotus paste added with coffee flavour!). I have also tried with red bean paste, and added melon seeds as I liked the nutty texture.

It was a very good learning experience, especially for a self taught baker. I was already giving myself a pat on the shoulder while the mooncakes were baking in the oven. I received another huge encouragement when my better half went oooh and ahhh when he took the first bite. He even asked me whether I could make some for him to bring overseas for him to show off to his overseas colleagues (*^^)


I'm submitting this post to Aspiring Bakers #11: Mid-Autumn Treats (Sept 2011) which I am hosting :)




Traditional Mooncakes (广式咖啡莲蓉月饼)

Ingredients:
(makes 12~13 mini mooncakes)

for dough:
100g plain flour
70g golden syrup (I used Abram Lyle's Golden Syrup with maple flavor)
2ml alkaline water
25ml peanut oil (I replaced with canola oil)

for filling:
415g tiramisu lotus paste
40g melon seeds

Method:
  1. Mix lotus paste with melon seeds. Divide the filling into 35g portions and shape into balls. Set aside. (Note: I used a dough: filling ratio of 3:7, for 50g mooncake mould)
  2. Place golden syrup in a bowl. Add in alkaline water, stir to combine. Add in oil, mix well.
  3. Place plain flour in a mixing bowl,make a well in the centre. Add in the above mixture. Mix with a spatula to form a soft dough. Gently knead the dough till smooth (takes 1~2 mins). Shape it into a smooth round dough. Wrap with cling wrap and leave in fridge to rest for at least 2 hours or over night. This step is known as 醒面.
  4. Dust work surface with some flour. Give the dough a few light kneading to smooth it.
  5. Divide dough into 15g pieces. Shape each dough into a ball. Roll each dough over some flour. Dust hand with flour and flatten each dough into a small disc (about 5cm in diameter). Wrap it around the filling and shape it into a ball. (always dust hand with some flour to avoid the dough from sticking).
  6. Lightly dust the wrapped dough with some flour. Place it in the mooncake mould and press the mooncake out. Place mooncake on a baking tray line with parchment paper.
  7. Spray some water on the mooncakes. (Note: this helps to prevent the mooncake from cracking during baking.)
  8. Bake at preheated oven at 180degC for 10mins. Remove from oven and leave to cool for 15mins (do not skip this step).
  9. Brush the top with some egg wash. Return to oven and continue to bake for another 15mins until golden brown (since all oven works differently, do check after 10mins, and subsequently every other 2 mins to make sure the mooncakes are not over browned).
  10. Leave mooncake to cool completely and store in air tight containers. Wait for 2 ~ 3 days for the mooncakes to 回油 (for the skin to soften) before serving.
Recipe source: adapted from 贝太厨房

91 comments:

  1. Your baked mooncakes are so beautiful! You did great for the first time making. I think 30% skin is a good ratio. I actually like the skin thicker. :) Thanks for showing the video. I have problems of wrapping anything!

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  2. Happy mid-autumn festival to you! Very successful attempt! I still have no guts to try making my own moon cakes :(

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  3. Of all sorts of mooncakes, the traditional one is my favorite! Those look so perfectly baked.

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  4. oh how i wish i could make mooncakes, these look so delicious..

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  5. Hi HHB

    For a first-timer, you are doing fantastic! I have never made mooncakes before, but after viewing your video, it is like an eye opener, it seems not too difficult after all; But I am sure you must have put in a lot of effort into making the mooncakes and the video. Thumbs up!

    cheers
    Bee @EEWIF

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  6. HHB, I never had the guts to take up this. After reading your experience, I might be able to sum up the courage to make some for Monday but ....... I might not.

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  7. ahhhh!!! i am HOMESICK!! searching around the internet for mooncake recipes and yours look simple enough to attempt. now i just need to figure out where to buy the paste (or make it, if i can't find it!)

    i am following your blog! i miss home food!!!!

    xoxo
    chewy
    http://elephantislove.blogspot.com

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  8. your mooncakes also look so neat and beautiful.

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  9. I am very, very impressed with the uniformity of your mooncake skin. The delicate job is beyond me. Hopefully I can get out of my lazy mode and make some simple mooncakes before the month's over.

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  10. Mooncake festival is the best! <3 I think it is really cool to be able to make such beautiful mooncakes by yourself because those sold outside are so expensive when the ingredients to making mooncakes are not at all!

    Your blog is very inspiring and i am so proud that you are a Singaporean too. Thanks for baking!

    Love, Simply Bakes (Singaprean!)

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  11. hi, your mookcake is so beautiful and professional looking.
    I have baked a batch too last week but not sure why the skin is still hard after a few days, maybe the lotus paste is too dry as the oil has separated when i have kept the paste in the fridge.
    Sem

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  12. Seem like it is a mooncake marathon. Most of the blogs has been busy making mooncakes for the past few days and it is still going on. I felt very excited and waiting to see the round up posts of the wonderful... yummy... treats for this September. ;p

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  13. Amazing! I have been wanting to try out but still have no gut .. I enjoy reading your experience and tips. Thanks for sharing :)

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  14. Thanks SSB, you should go ahead to try make baked mooncakes too :)

    Grace, I am sure yours will be way better than mine...but maybe you need to wait till your little one is older before you can find time to play around with dough ;)

    Thanks Angie! It is my pleasure to receive compliments from you, your blog has inspired me to learn alot about baking!

    happybowl, hope you can get to try some :)

    Bee @EEWIF, making the video was very simple, no special preparation needed, I just called out to my son to come over to take a video while I was wrapping the mooncake ;)

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  15. Edith, you can take your time, who says we can't have mooncakes after the festival ;)

    thanks chewy for visiting, hope to see you around :)

    Thanks Sonia! Your mooncake post has given me an insight to making mooncakes too!

    The Experimental Cook, what delicate job, I am actually a very 'chor-lor' person, if I can make these, I am sure you can do better!

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  16. Simply Bakes, yes, it is indeed cheaper to make your own mooncakes, especially so if you are able to make the lotus paste from scratch.

    Sem, could it be the recipe problem? If not, maybe you have over bake it? I read somewhere that different type of golden syrup will give a different colour, some will be quite pale, so maybe you could have over baked yours waiting for it to turn brown?

    Happy Flour, I actually feel good to be able to 'bake' with fellow bloggers, I am so inspired by the beautiful creations I receive everyday in my mailbox!

    Cynthia, you should give it a try, it is not as difficult as what we think :)

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  17. Beauty, absolutely beauty treats, love them!! gloria

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  18. Hi, HHB,
    I guess this could be the underlying problem as i have taken more than the stipulated baking time to get the mooncake turning brown.
    Thanks for the advice.Will try again if i still have the energy to bake again.
    Sem

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  19. Lovely mooncakes and thanks for all the tips. So kind of you to share with us.

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  20. Totally off from this post, may i ask where i can find peppermint extract in Singapore?

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  21. these are all very useful information that you're giving, thanks so much and thanks for hosting ab event. I will be submitting mine the next 2 or 3 days.

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  22. Hi Sem, glad to know that you know the cause, hope you have already made another batch :)

    Cheah, thanks for your kind comments!

    Thanks Lena, looking forward to your submission :)

    Hi Anonymous, you can try Phoon Huat.

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  23. beautiful looking moon cake I haven't had like this

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  24. Hi hhb, very beautiful mooncakes on yr 1st attempt, u just hv a natural flair for baking ;-) i hv not made mooncakes b4 & never thought of doing so, but if i ever wnt to make any, i wld definitely refer to yr blog! May i ask where do u get e ready made lotus paste fr? Thank u.

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  25. This is really pretty!!! :) You always impress me with your bakes.

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  26. Hi mj, thanks! You can get them from Phoon Huat, Sun Lik or Kwong Cheong Thye (there are more flavours to choose from).

    thanks hanushi!

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  27. Hi hhb, tks for yr reply. 中秋节快乐!

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  28. Don't mooncakes have messages inside them?

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  29. Your mooncakes came out so beautiful. Great job! These are something I'd like to have a shot at making though don't know how readily available the ingredients are here.

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  30. I just wanted to add a comment here to mention thanks for you very nice ideas. Blogs are troublesome to run and time consuming thus I appreciate when I see well written material.Your time isn’t going to waste with your posts. Thanks so much and stick with it No doubt you will definitely reach your goals! have a great day!

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  31. Does anyone know where I can find a mooncake mold? or the molds to make nonya kueh?

    I am an expat in Singapore and trying to learn some Asian baking recipes. Your blog is wonderful!

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  32. Hi Alissa, you can try Phoon Huat (http://www.phoonhuat.com) or Sun Lik (http://sunliktrading.com).

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  33. wow wow wow....iam totally awed with ur bread collections ! must come back here to view each and every recipes in detail !!! awesome work ! hats off :)

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  34. Hi HHB,

    I've just tried making mooncakes with another recipe, and the filling ended up separating from the skin/dough after baking. When I cut the mooncake, I can see a gap between the filling and skin and it dislodges easily.I used homemade white bean paste as the filling. Has that ever happened to you before? I'm so disappointed and I wish I knew the reason why to preent the problem from happening again, wonder if it''s due to the skin recipe or the filling.

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  35. Hi Amy, not sure whether you read Chinese? I googled and found the possible cause from some chinese websites (see below for the links). Basically I think it is because of your homemade paste, you have to make sure it is cooked until it is all dry up. If you have done it correctly, then maybe it could be due to the recipe for the skin, it could be too dry? or maybe you dusted the dough with too much flour. Hope this help, and wish u success for your next attempt :)

    1. http://zhidao.baidu.com/question/170596505
    look under point no. 25

    2. http://news.klhpw.com/?action-viewnews-itemid-17390-page-2
    look under Q4

    3. http://www.88meishi.com/meishitianxia/20110602/6977.html
    refer last para.

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  36. Hi HHB,

    Thank you so much for your reply and your effort in helping me find out the reason why, really appreciate it. My chinese isn't good, but I can make out some of the words.

    I would have thought that a wetter/stickier paste would help it adhere to the skin better, haha what silly logic I have. Will try to cook the paste drier and keep my dough skin moist and hope it resolves my problem *crosses fingers*.

    Thank you again! :D

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  37. Hihi am baking mooncakes too but have a problem. Hoping if you could give some advise.

    When applying egg wash, how do you prevent bubbles? the small bubbles makes the imprint look so ugly :(

    I use egg yolk only egg wash.

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  38. Hi Fallen Angel, I didn't have problem with bubbles, maybe after beating the egg yolk, u could set it aside for sometime before using, maybe there will be less bubbles? I am sorry, I am no expert in baking mooncakes, and I didnt pay much attention on the egg wash part, so I cant really help...

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  39. Hi,

    I was browsing through the web and found your page.
    The mooncakes look really beautiful and i'm quite tempted to try it. Can you explain what alkaline water is? Not too sure how to do it so I guess I better ask before I do anything.. hehe.


    Cheers,
    Hidemi

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  40. Hi Hidemi, the alkaline water or lye water helps to make the dough more stretchable, and allows the mooncakes to brown nicely upon baking. However, just a small amount is needed, if used more than recommended, it will give the mooncake a very dark colour. I believe the texture of the mooncake skin will be affected if alkaline water is omitted. You can get it from baking supply store, eg Phoon Huat.

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  41. Hi,

    Thanks for the explanation! Was thinking whether I'll be able to make it at home or something but I think it's better to buy then.
    Thanks a lot!!

    Cheers,
    Hidemi

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  42. Hi Hidemi, maybe you can try snowskin mooncakes instead? It is easier to make than baked ones. Hope you will give it a try.

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    Replies
    1. Hi, I'm trying the baked mooncakes with your recipe now! Looks good for the time being haha. I've tried snow skin but i think I'm really not cut out to make them lol

      Thanks for your recipe! Awesome!

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  43. Good morning, can you help me on finding Golden Syrup?

    Where are they found at?

    Hypermarts?

    Which sections?

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  44. Hi Mola, I got the golden syrup from local baking supply store. I used this brand Abram Lyle's Golden Syrup, you can try look for it under the honey, maple syrup section in supermarts.

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  45. Wow, thanks for sharing this. I particularly enjoy the video as I always struggle to wrap large filling. Your skill is impressive. Well done!

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  46. Hi Hidemi, hope the recipe works for you :)

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  47. Hi HHB,
    A friend told me about Chinese mooncakes and I wanted to find a recipe. Yours looks eays and yummy but I have two questions:
    1. How do you make the filling? Do you buy the lotus paste? Would you be able to post a recipe?
    2. Where can you buy one of the molds?
    Thanks!

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  48. Hi Rachel, yes, I bough ready made lotus paste. I am not able to make it from scratch as I do not own a blender...
    You can try getting the mould from online store.

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  49. Hi, would you be interested to host a workshop for children in Sept to make snow skin mooncake? 20 kids per session, 20 sessions in total (2per day). Please let me know? Thanks! – ivah ee

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  50. Hi Ivah, thanks for your invitation but I am not able to host the workshop. Thanks!

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  51. Hi,
    In all recipes, we need to mix the alkaline water, oil and golden syrup well, but I they don't seem to be able to mix well for me. How should I do it, and normally how long does it take to completely mix well?
    Thanks.

    Linda

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  52. Hi HHB,
    Your moonies look gorgeous! I have been so tempted to make mooncakes after looking at your beautiful recipe. Do you toast the melon seeds before adding them in the lotus paste? Thanks :)

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  53. Hi, I didnt toast the melon seeds. Tgey tasted good enough without toasting. Hope this helps.

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  54. Hi Linda, it takes only a few quick stir to mix. place golden syrup in a bowl. Add alkaline stir to combine, then add water and stir to combine. You can try adding alkaline gradually, stir as you add. Hope this helps.

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  55. Hi, where can I buy a 50g mooncake mould? Do you have a picture to show? Does PH has it? Thanks!

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  56. Hi teo ai li, I got mine from here:
    http://shopnbake.wordpress.com/2011/07/13/mooncake-moulds-order-open-2/

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  57. Is there a substitute for alkaline water??? I m in Sydney and tried a few asian shops here. Apparently, it's a banned item here by the govt.

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  58. Hi I goggled and some sites mentioned that it can be replaced with mixture of baking soda and water. However I am not able to recommend the amount of baking soda to use since I have not tried it. May be you can try other recipes that do not call for alkaline water.

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  59. Hi, thanks for the link and have also looked through their catalog. However, they don't have a 50g mooncake mould. They only have 50g to 55g and it is square in shape. Is it still ok to use for this recipe? By the way, is it easy to use this type of mould? This will be my FIRST rime baking mooncake. Thanks so much for your help!

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  60. Hi teo ai li, it is not necessary to get exactly 50g moulds. You can adjust the amount according...I used a dough: filling ratio of 3:7, so for my 50g mooncake mould, dough is 15g filling is 35g. You can work out the ratio according to the mould you use. What you can do is, use a piece of dough to test out the mould, weight the dough and adjust the dough: filling ratio.

    This type of press release mould is very easy to use. Easier than wooden ones.

    You can also try this shop at Kallang bahru: http://www.kitchencapers.net/shopstore/mooncake.htm

    or call up Sun Lik or Phoon Huat to check whether they carry such moon cake moulds. Hope this helps.

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  61. Hi, thank you so much for your help! ShopnBake told me that their moulds are based on a 3 : 7 dough to filling ratio. Since is the same as the ratio you used, guess it is safe to go ahead to buy it. By the way, where can I buy the Abram Lye's Golden syrup? I saw in other recipes, they used mooncake glaze. You think it is necessary since there is already egg wash? Thanks so much for helping a totally newbie here! Really appreciate it!

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  62. Thank you so much for your help. Finally ordered from ShopnBake.

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  63. Hi ai li, u can get the golden syrup from phoon huat or supermarts. I don't know about mooncake glaze...sorry I am also considered a newbie :)

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  64. Hi, I bought the golden syrup from Cold Storage. It is Abram Lyle's golden syrup but it does not say it has maple syrup flavour. Is it ok? Do you think using cake flour can give a softer texture? Also, is the alkaline water the same as those in household where the tap water is passed through a machine to make it alkaline? Sorry for asking so many questions! Thanks!

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  65. Hi ai li, I used this
    http://www.tesco.com/groceries/Product/Details/?id=253901629
    it comes in a bottle (I find this more convenient) and it is printed on the label 'maple flavour'.
    Sorry I do not know whether cake flour will make is softer, maybe you want to give it a try?
    You can get alkaline water from phoon huat...think it is a mixture of baking soda and water. I do not know of machines that turns water into alkaline...pardon my ignorance.

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  66. Hi, I found the Abram Lyle's Golden Syrup with maple flavour at PH. So happy! Thanks for all your help. Now waiting for mould to arrive and then I ca experiment with it. Still a little concerned on the wrapping process....Anyway, thanks so much for your help!!!!

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  67. Thanks for sharing your recipe, and the little handy tips. Yesterday was my first attempt at making the mini moonies, and I must say that for a first - they turned out pretty well. I couldn't find alkaline water here, and so made my own (baking soda + water), I think I added more than 2 ml in each batch of the dough. I made 3 batches, and somehow the first was the best (with better elasticity), the last two were not as good and crumbled quickly even when being kneaded, but they came out alright as well in wrapping the filling (had to be very careful, and did a bit of patch work haha).

    I used red bean paste, as that's the only one I could find. Spur of the moment. I'd love to try the pandan paste but couldn't find it anywhere.

    Anyway, thanks again, and happy baking.

    -Jovy

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  68. HI Jovy, thanks for sharing your baking experience :) Happy to hear that yours turn out well, great job! Happy baking to you too!

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  69. Hi, today I baked my first batch!! They all turned out great! Thanks for sharing the recipe! Now I am confident enough to do another batch without any reservations. By the way, I could only do 11 pieces. You think there could be error in my weighing out the dough? Thanks!

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  70. Hi ai li, glad to hear the good news from you :):) I remember your mould is slighter bigger right? could it be the reason why you got 11 pieces?

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  71. Oh yes! You are right! Silly of me!!! Sorry 1 last question : does the filling weight include the weight of the salted egg yolk? eg my total filling weight has to be 39g and my egg yolk is 15g, does it mean that my lotus paste weight has to be 39g - 15g = 24g OR I strictly use 39g of lotus paste and use 1 egg yolk regardless of the weight of the yolk. Sorry if I didn't express myself well here. I hope you can understand what I am asking here. Thanks!!

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  72. Hi, yes you are right! I forgot about the mould size being bigger.....1 last question : if I am adding salted egg yolk to the filling, do I take 39g minus weight of the egg yolk which equals to weight of the lotus paste? Sorry I am unable to express myself well here and hope you can understand what I am asking....

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  73. hi ai li, I have not tried wrapping with egg yolks as my kids don't like. I suppose u will need to reduce the lotus paste, that is use 24g lotus paste and 15g yolk in order to wrap with the same amount of dough.

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  74. Ok noted and thanks!

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  75. Hi,
    I never bake mooncake before. I hope I can bake mooncake this year.

    I can't find alkaline water here. Is it ok if I omit it?

    Can I use the maple syrup that they eat with pancake?

    Thanks!

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  76. Hi Eunice, some sites mentioned that alkaline water can be replaced with mixture of baking soda and water. However I am not able to recommend the amount of baking soda to use since I have not tried it. May be you can try other recipes that do not call for alkaline water.

    I use this brand of maple syrup
    http://www.tesco.com/groceries/Product/Details/?id=253901629
    sorry, I am not sure whether it can be replaced with other types of maple syrup.

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  77. Hi,
    Thank you very much for your reply. I will try to make this mooncake in the weekend. Finger crossed. Hope it will turns out good :-(

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  78. Hi Eunice, good luck and hope everything turns out well :)
    Happy mooncake making!

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  79. Hi, I like your recipe. Thanks for sharing. Do you have lotus paste recipe?

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  80. Hi Sunflower, I used store bought red bean paste.

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  81. hi there

    your mooncakes look fantastic. i did my first batch but the problem is that the decorations on the top of the mooncake started to blur - no longer distinct. what did you do for yours to be so distinct and nice?

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  82. Hi, did you press the mooncake mould down hard enough so that you get very clear indent like the second photo above? or could it be the type of mould you are using?

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  83. your mooncakes also look so neat and beautiful.

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  84. 2ml alkaline water, is it the same as 2gm coz i am using my measurement in gm. same for oil too? this is my first time, i want to get it right. thanks.

    anne

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  85. 2ml alkaline water is about the same as 2gm. But for oil is not the same as oil has a slightly higher density.

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  86. oh oh!! i used the same for the oil too coz when i posted to you i was doing the dough half way. will this create any impact? thanks.

    anne

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  87. As the amount is not much I don't think it will affect the results. Hope your mooncakes turn out well :)

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  88. Hi, just made my mooncake and it turn out great. can i know if i uses your recipe for a big one with one egg yolk, how much does it yield?

    anne

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  89. Hi, I am not able to advise as I have not tried making big ones with yolks.

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