Mid-Autumn Festival – Mrs Cheng’s Mooncake

Mrs Cheng’s Mooncake

Mid-Autumn Festival is intricately linked to the legends of Chang E, the mythical Moon Goddess of Immortality

In Ming revolution mooncakes were used as a medium by the Ming revolutionaries in their espionage effort to secretly distribute letters in order to overthrow the Mongolian rulers of China in the Yuan dynasty. The idea is said to be conceived by Zhu Yuanzhang (???) and his advisor Liu Bowen (???), who circulated a rumor that a deadly plague was spreading and the only way to prevent it was to eat the special mooncakes. This prompted the quick distribution of the mooncakes, which were used to hide a secret message coordinating the Han Chinese revolt on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month.

Another method of hiding the message was printed in the surface of mooncakes as a simple puzzle or mosaic. In order to read the encrypted message, each of the 4 mooncakes packaged together must be cut into 4 parts each. The 16 pieces of mooncake, must then be pieced together in such a fashion that the secret messages can be read. The pieces of mooncake are then eaten to destroy the message.

Mooncake is a Chinese pastry traditionally eaten during the Mid-Autumn Festival. Typical mooncakes are round or rectangular pastries, measuring about 10 cm in diameter and 4-5 cm thick. A thick filling usually made from lotus paste is surrounded by a relatively thin (2-3 mm) crust and may contain yolks from salted duck eggs. Mooncakes are rich, heavy, and dense compared with most Western cakes and pastries. They are usually eaten in small wedges accompanied by Chinese tea.

There are many types of fillings can be found in traditional mooncakes according to the region’s culture and lotus seed paste (??, lían róng) is considered by some to be the original and most luxurious mooncake filling, lotus paste filling is found in all types of mooncakes. Due to the high price of lotus paste, white kidney bean paste is sometimes used as a filler.

500g lotus seeds with skins, washed
1 tbsp alkaline water (kan sui)
3½-4 cups water
350-375g castor sugar
450g oil
1-1½ tbsp maltose (mak ngah tong)

Put lotus seeds into a large mixing bowl. Add alkaline water and steep for 5-10 minutes. Pour boiling water over the seeds then cover and soak for 10 minutes. Drain the water from the seeds then add cold water. Next, completely remove the skins from the seeds by rubbing them off. If whole lotus seeds are used, remove the green centres then boil seeds in water until soft and tender.

Blend the cooked lotus seeds into a fine paste in an electric blender or food processor. Heat up a wok and melt half the sugar until it turns lightly golden. Add lotus seed paste. Cook, stirring all the time until the lotus seed paste thickens. Add in the remaining sugar and pour in the oil a little at a time. Continue to cook until it is thick. Stir in maltose. Use a wooden spatula to stir until the paste leaves the sides of the wok. Dish up and leave to cool before use.

Traditional mooncake vary widely depending on the region where the mooncake is produced. While most regions produce traditional mooncakes with many types of fillings, they usually only make their mooncake from one type of crust or another. Although vegetarian mooncakes may use vegetable oil, many mooncakes use lard in their recipes for an optimum mouthfeel. There are three types of mooncake crust used in Chinese cuisine:

Chewy: This crust has a reddish-brown tone and glossy sheen. It is the most common type of crust used on Cantonese-style mooncakes. It is also the most commonly seen type of mooncake in North America and many western countries. Chewy mooncake crusts are made using a combination of thick sugar syrup, lye water, flour, and oil, thus giving this crust its rich taste and a chewy yet tender texture. Chewiness can be increased further by adding maltose syrup to the mixture.

The dough is also baked into fish or piglet shapes (Cantonese: “Jue Zai Bang”; ???; lit. “Piglet Biscuits”) and sold at mooncake bakeries as a chewy snack. They often come individually packaged in small plastic baskets, to symbolize fish being caught or piglets being bound for sale.

Flaky: Flaky crusts are most indicative of Suzhou-style mooncakes. The dough is made by rolling together alternating layers of oily dough and flour that has been stir-fried in oil. This crust has a very similar texture to the likes of puff pastry.

Tender: Mooncakes from certain provinces of China and Taiwan are often made to be tender rather than flaky or chewy. The texture of this type of mooncake crust is similar to the likes of the shortcrust pastry used in Western pie crusts or tart shells. Tender crusts are made mainly of a homogenous mix of sugar, oil, flour, and water. This type of crust is also commonly used in other type of Chinese pastries, such as the egg tart.

400g golden syrup
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 1/2 tbsp alkaline water (kan sui)
100g corn oil
550g flour
A few drops of dark soy sauce

Mix sieved bicarbonate of soda, golden syrup, alkaline water and oil with a wooden spoon and allow to rest for 4-5 hours in a basin. Add the dark soy sauce, then fold in sifted flour gradually and mix evenly to form a smooth and soft dough. Let the dough rest for another 6-7 hours. Divide dough into even balls, each weighing 40-50g.

Divide the dough into even pieces of 40g each. Roll the dough into a ball and flatten out with your hand.Weigh the lotus seed paste. If you like the yolk of salted eggs, you can insert one in the centre.

Place the filling in the middle of the flat dough and slowly wrap around it. Seal the edges and roll dough lightly between your palms until the filling is hidden.

Dust mould lightly with flour. Press doughball into the mooncake mould. Knock the mould against the table to dislodge the mooncake.

Bake in a preheated oven at 180 ºC for 10 minutes. Remove and leave to cool for 5 minutes. Brush on beaten egg glaze. Return to bake for another 10 minutes or till golden.

Do not overbake mooncake otherwise filling will overflow and mooncake will lose its shape.

A lovely piece of moomcake with salted egg yolk, full of flavour. Reduction in sugar will make the mooncake less sweet.

Dragon Fruit Ping Pei Mooncake or Chilled Mooncake


Lotus paste

Pastry (Skin):
225g kao fun (cooked glutinous rice flour)
200g sugar
290ml water
1 tbsp condensed milk
3 tbsp shortening
25g dragon fruit paste

Boil water and sugar together until sugar dissolves. Leave to cool, add in condensed milk and mix well.Sift kao fun into the cooled syrup solution. Add in shortening, dragon fruit paste and mix into a smooth dough. Leave aside, covered, for 15-20 minutes.Divide dough into equal portions. Wrap dough around filling. Press into mooncake mould, knock out and chill in the refrigerator.

Mrs Cheng’s mooncakes are gorgeous, lovely and delicious. I just can’t get enough of her mooncakes. If you like to taste Mrs Cheng’s mooncake, she can be contacted at 016 2783089 located in Petaling Jaya.

Hope you will have a great mid-autumn festival eating and serving mooncakes over a cuppa of jasmine tea or a cuppa of black coffee.

Love Sunny Yaw


  • daphne
    September 23, 2007 - 9:37 pm | Permalink

    looks so yummy. I miss homemade mooncakes… if only I brought back some moulds to make some..

  • Nora B.
    September 23, 2007 - 9:49 pm | Permalink

    Those mooncakes look amazing! I like the “snow skin” ones the most. I have to look for a good Chinese bakery in Sydney to get my supply of mooncakes.

  • WokandSpoon
    September 24, 2007 - 12:26 am | Permalink

    Homemade mooncakes! Wow! I’m so impressed. They look lovely!

  • Big Boys Oven
    September 24, 2007 - 4:27 am | Permalink

    I know you miss homemade food, that’s the reason I posted this. I am sure you will like on what to come, do visit bigboyskitchen.blogspot.com and havefoodwilltravel.blogspot.com

    nora b.:
    I am sure you can find good bakery in Sydney.

    Thanks, yes there are homemade, mrs cheng gave us a box to try and I end up buying 2 boxes for my mum.

  • sc
    September 24, 2007 - 9:27 am | Permalink

    wow, looks like lotsa work..but the mooncakes looks beautiful..the effort paid off, definitely :)

  • ai wei
    September 24, 2007 - 9:51 am | Permalink

    they are beautiful. especially the snow skin dragonfruit!!!

  • tigerfish
    September 24, 2007 - 9:59 am | Permalink

    I like those traditional mooncakes (made with lard!!!) :O …lotus paste filling with single or at most double egg yolks!
    Ping pei is nice too and I stick too the earliest ping pei – green tea/macha. There are just too many variations now.

  • Wandering Chopsticks
    September 24, 2007 - 10:47 am | Permalink

    Thanks for visiting my blog! That dragonfruit mooncake is beautiful! Did you use red dragonfruit for the paste? Or use the skin? I’ve only seen Vietnamese dragonfruit and the inside is white.

  • Little Corner of Mine
    September 24, 2007 - 4:58 pm | Permalink

    Happy Mid-Autumn Festival to you! Love those mooncakes, ping pei, traditional, you name it except the mixed nuts…LOL!

  • Kelly Mahoney
    September 24, 2007 - 5:35 pm | Permalink

    This was so informative, thanks for the lesson! As for the food, those look divine. I’ve never seen something that’s layered like that and still has such a beautiful and intricate exterior.

  • KampungboyCitygal
    September 24, 2007 - 6:18 pm | Permalink

    can i have some? din go back ipoh this year le :(

  • ~Christine~Leng
    September 24, 2007 - 7:12 pm | Permalink

    the dragon fruit ‘ping pei’ mooncake is so pretty!
    homemade mooncake is the best… this year, I didn’t have any. :(

  • MeiyeN
    September 24, 2007 - 8:01 pm | Permalink

    da dragonfruit mooncake looks beautiful!

  • Big Boys Oven
    September 25, 2007 - 12:10 am | Permalink

    Mrs Cheng managed them like a feather and so effortless.

    ai wei:
    Yes the dragon fruit snow skin really beautiful.

    There are so many variation and so western flavour influence.

    wandering chopstick:
    Yes that was red dragon fruit, their colour are very intense.

    little corner of mine:
    I presume those are the hokkien version of mooncake.

    kelly mahoney:
    Thank you. Just can’t wait to see you making some!

    can, can will ask mrs cheng!

    christine leng:
    oh how come? can get mrs cheng to make some!

    Yes they are truely beautiful and lovely.

  • wmw
    September 25, 2007 - 2:52 am | Permalink

    The Ping Pei Dragon Fruit looks so brightly coloured, interesting.

  • Wennnn
    September 25, 2007 - 7:38 am | Permalink

    Thank U for visiting… U guys have a wonderful mid autumn festival too…

  • East Meets West Kitchen
    September 25, 2007 - 11:50 am | Permalink

    Happy Mid-Autumn festival to you and yours!
    Love your mooncakes, especially those pretty dragon-fruit ones. :)

  • Oh for the love of food!
    September 25, 2007 - 6:47 pm | Permalink

    This is a wonderfully informative post,guys, great work. There is such a huge variety of moon cakes these days but my favourite is still the original skinned lotus with 1 duck egg yolk. Hope you had a beautiful mid-Autumn festival celebration with family and friends!

  • wenching & esiong
    September 27, 2007 - 7:06 am | Permalink

    i’ve ate mooncake since i was born but did not even know of its origin and how it was made. haha! i really should learn more about it! thanks for the information bout mooncake history ya!

  • Jackson
    September 29, 2007 - 8:52 am | Permalink

    anymore dragon fruit beng pei mooncake a?

  • Judy
    November 25, 2007 - 7:47 am | Permalink

    I’m looking for a recipe for Flaky crusts which are most indicative of Suzhou-style mooncakes, Would you happen to know of the recipe for this? I would like to try and make this with minced pork. If you have a recipe for that too, that would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks very much.

  • Jade
    October 25, 2008 - 12:37 am | Permalink


    I got a bottle of maltose that I bought in order to do mooncakes. And now it’s sitting in my pantry, I’ve got no idea what should I use them for. Do you have any recipes like steamed cakes which I can use them? Please advise.


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