The traditional Teochew mooncake is called la-pia 朥餅, la 朥 referring to lard. In essence the la pia is baked pastry in the form of sweet filling wrapped around by crust made from flour and lard. While it is available in the markets all year round, their sales surge highest during dong-tshiu 中秋, the mid-Autumn festival.
As this special day approaches, The Teochew Store has invited Tan Pia Hua 陈冰桦, a food lover and blogger from Teochew, to share her original recipe to make your own special taste Teochew-style mooncake.
【Making Your Own Mooncakes】
The fillings of a mooncake are typically sweet, such as lotus seed paste, green bean past or yam/taro paste. What is introduced below includes my original creation, which has a slight salty taste, is extremely fragrant, tastes almost like egg-yolk and is highly suited for persons with high blood-sugar level.
【Preparing the fillings】
① Sweet Lotus Seed Paste 甜莲蓉
Ingredients: Fresh lotus seed - 0.5 catty (1 catty = 500g), milk - 250 ml, white sugar - 30 g (approximately 3 tablespoons), olive oil (or butter or edible oil) - 100 ml (approximately 10 tablespoons)
- Break the lotus seeds into two halves, wash in water and drain, before placing in pressure cooker to steam for 15 minutes;
- Mix the steamed lotus seeds, milk and sugar in a mixer to create paste;
- Heat the 100 ml of olive oil in a frying pan, add in the lotus seed paste and stir continuously over a small fire. As you stir, grind the paste to smoothen the texture;
- Stop after about 20 minutes when the lotus seed paste has become dough-like and cannot be stirred any more.
Caution: Do not stop movement when you stir the lotus seed paste in the pan. This is because we are using only a small amount of oil and the paste may stick to the pan.
② Salty Lotus Seed Paste 咸莲蓉
Ingredients: Fresh lotus seed - 0.5 catty (1 catty = 500g), milk - 250 ml, white sugar - 3 teaspoons, salt - 2 teaspoons, pepper - 2 teaspoons, chicken essence - 2 teaspoons, curry powder - 2 teaspoons, five-spice powder 1 teaspoon and corn oil - 100 ml (approximately 10 tablespoons)
As above for the Sweet Lotus Seed Paste, except that the steamed lotus seeds is mixed with milk, white sugar (note the amount is 3 teaspoons, not tablespoons), salt, pepper, chicken essence, curry powder and five-spice powder; and when frying use corn-oil instead of olive oil.
③ Red Bean Paste 红豆沙
Ingredients: Red beans - 1 catty (1 catty = 500g), corn oil - 200ml, white sugar 120-150g, milk powder - 30g and edible baking soda - 2g.
- Wash the red beans and soak overnight in water (at least for 4 hours ), change the water halfway through;
- Place the red beans, 2 cm of water and edible baking soda into a pressure cooker and steam for 20 minutes;
- Mix the steamed red beans, milk powder and sugar in a mixer to create paste;
- Heat the corn oil in a frying pan, and then stir the red bean paste in the same way described above for the lotus seed paste.
Note: using 1 catty of red beans allows you to make 3 catties or more red bean paste.
④ Green Bean Paste 绿豆沙
Ingredients: Peeled green beans - 1 catty (1 catty = 500g), corn oil – 200ml, white sugar - 60g and milk – 500ml.
- Soak the green beans in water for 30 minutes;
- Place the green beans in pressure cooker to steam for 20 minutes;
- Add the steamed green beans, milk and sugar in a mixer to create paste;
- Heat the corn oil in a frying pan, and then stir the green bean paste in the same way described for the lotus seed paste.
【Preparing the crust】
This is the challenging part for making mooncakes. Instructions given below are for baking 8 mooncakes, each weighing approximately 68g.
- “Water skin” (水皮): High-gluten flour - 62.5g, low-gluten flour - 62.5g, lard - 62.5g, malt sugar - 11.5g and water - 62g;
- “Oil skin” (油皮): Low-gluten flour - 62.5g and lard - 31.5g; and
- Bean paste, 8 portions (280g, each portion 35g)
- First prepare the “water skin” by adding malt sugar into lukewarm water (at 37°C) to form syrup. Next add the syrup to high-gluten flour, low-gluten flour and lard to create dough. At this stage roll the dough gently, without using excessive strength. Cover with a dry cloth and leave to ferment for 30 minutes.
- As the “water skin” ferments, prepare the “oil skin”. Mix the low-gluten flour and lard, use strength to roll into elongated dough form. Then divide the dough into 8 portions each 11g in weight and roll them into balls.
- After the "water skin" has fermented, roll it into elongated dough form and divide into 8 portions each 22g in weight. Roll them into balls and then flatten. On each portion of “water skin”, place an “oil skin” ball in the middle and then wrap around. This will be the pastry for the mooncake.
- Next flatten each pastry piece, place a rolling pin at the middle and in up and down movements roll into oval shape; With your hands, roll the top end downwards to form a cylindrical roll. Rotate the roll to the "丨" position, roll flat using the rolling pin; again with your hands, roll the top end downwards to form a cylindrical roll, and then press down to flatten.
- Roll flat the pastry with a rolling pin using up and down movements (not sideways); place the bean paste fillings on top and roll into ball-shape. For marking purpose, stamp the top using red edible ink and in the process flatten the balls slightly. The mooncakes are now ready to be baked.
- Pre-heat the oven heat to 190°C for 10 minutes. Then place the mooncakes in the oven to bake first in face-down position (i.e. the side stamped with wording at bottom)
- After three minutes remove the mooncakes from the oven and using a tooth-pick poke two holes on the surface to release heat trapped within the fillings section.
- Return the mooncakes into the oven to bake. After 10 minutes, taken them out and coat with a tablespoon of vegetable oil.
- Repeat the process. In total the mooncakes are coated with vegetable oil twice and baked in the oven for 30 minutes.
Gentle reminder: Allow the mooncakes to cool first before placing them in containers. They are best consumed within 24 hours when the crust is still crispy and fragrant.
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