MOONCAKES FOR MID-AUTUMN FESTIVAL

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival, for those who celebrate! Every year, around July, I promise myself I will try to bake mooncakes. And every year I find excuses not to do it, because it seems so intimidating! Finally, I decided to woman-up, and go for it. I used the recipe from a great cookbook, Mooncakes and Milk Bread, by Kristina Cho. The copyrighted recipe is available online (click here), in case you don’t have the cookbook. I will share my experiences as a mooncake-virgin.

To make mooncakes, you will need molds (either plastic or wood will work). I used molds similar to these. You will also need Lyle’s Golden Syrup and a special type of water that can be made from baking soda, but I decided to get the commercially available (click here). You will only use 1 tsp of alkaline water per batch of dough. Molds come in two common sizes, 50g and 100g. I used the larger ones, make sure to adjust the amount of dough + filling to the size of mold you have.

The dough is surprisingly easy to work with, due to the high fat content. It stretches easily and I had no issues forming the balls with the filling inside. I used 48 g dough per ball, and about 35g filling of two kinds, the pistachio-honey described in the original link, and my second batch was simpler, just almond paste (8 oz) with 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips.

My problems started during baking. For many of the mooncakes, the pattern was almost fully lost during the second stage of baking. Maybe I used too much egg wash, or maybe some other tweaking in my technique was needed. At any rate, you can see in the picture below that my first batch was not as good as the second.

I suppose that making mooncakes is a bit like baking macarons, you’ll get better the more you make them. At any rate, I will definitely be using my molds with other types of cookie dough, as long as they don’t spread too much and have a higher chance of retaining the beautiful designs. Stay tuned… And if you celebrate…

HAPPY MID-AUTUMN FESTIVAL!

ONE YEAR AGO: Almond-Raspberry Triangles and a Special Cookbook Review

TWO YEARS AGO: Sweet and Spicy Roasted Cauliflower

THREE YEARS AGO: Roasted Cauliflower Salad over Hummus

FOUR YEARS AGO: Queen of Sheba

FIVE YEAR AGO: Brunch Burger

SIX YEARS AGO: Mango Salsa with Verjus

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Raspberry Bittersweet Chocolate Chunk Brownies

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Scary Good Pork Burgers

NINE YEARS AGO: Review of exercise program Focus25

TEN YEARS AGO: Celebrate Wednesday with a Thai Seafood Curry

ELEVEN YEARS AGO:  Post-workout Breakfast

TWELVE YEARS AGO: Semolina Barbecue Buns

THIRTEEN YEARS AGO: Lavash Crackers

EARL GREY SHORTBREAD COOKIES

Shortbread cookies have unique texture, and are surprisingly addictive. This version, flavored with tea and a touch of orange extract, followed the basic method from Helen Fletcher, described in her cookbook: Craving Cookies, The Quintessential American Cookie Book. The food processor makes perfect shortbread dough every single time.

EARL GREY SHORTBREAD COOKIES
(inspired by several sources)

4 bags of Earl Grey tea (about 8g tea, I used decaf)
310 g all purpose flour
48 g cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
227 g butter, very cold, cut into pieces
115 g powdered sugar
1/2 tsp orange extract

Heat the oven to 275 F.

Add tea, flour, cornstarch and salt to the food processor and process a few seconds to mix. Add the butter, process until it is dispersed in small pieces, stop the processor, add the powdered sugar and orange extract, and process it again until a dough forms. You can turn the processor on and off a few times for more efficient mixing. Once the dough starts to form and dance around the bowl, stop and gather it gently with your hands, forming a disc over parchment paper.

If you worked fast, you can proceed right away forming balls, each with 33g of dough. If the dough it too soft or feels at all warm, place it in the fridge for 30 minutes or so.

Working with one little ball at a time, press a design using your favorite cookie press coated with flour so it won’t stick. Freeze the cookies for 10 minutes, then bake at 275F for about 50 minutes over parchment paper. Let the cookies cool for a few minutes then transfer to a cooling rack.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Shortbread is perfect for pressing a pattern or using decorative molds, as there is no leavening agent in the dough. Freezing is an additional step that helps the pattern stay even better during baking. As to the low temperature, 275 F gives shortbread a wonderful texture. I saw that recommended in a couple of websites and cookbooks and gave it a try in this bake. Loved it. If you are not pressed for time, consider this little twist. I baked them for 55 minutes exactly, the edges were starting to get golden.


ONE YEAR AGO: Summertime Macaron Duet

TWO YEARS AGO: Pain de Mie Dressed up for Party

THREE YEARS AGO: Five-Stranded Bread

FOUR YEARS AGO: Green Olive Salad

FIVE YEARS AGO: Coffee Macarons Dressed up to Party

SIX YEARS AGO: Blogging Hiatus

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Tomato Tatin

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Headed to Colorado!  

NINE YEARS AGO: Farofa Brasileira

TEN  YEARS AGO: Thai-Inspired Pork Tenderloin

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: A yummy Brazilian cake: Bolo de Fuba’

TWELVE YEARS AGO:  Summer’s Tomatoes

THIRTEEN YEARS AGO: Leaving on a jet plane… 

A TRIO OF SUPERSTARS

Today my blog pays homage to three amazing bakers who put great effort into each post they compose. Their blog articles end up as detailed tutorials that allow even a beginner baker to tackle what might seem very intimidating at first. I share three recipes, in the chronological order I baked them in the past couple of months.

SUPERSTAR BAKER #1
HELEN FLETCHER

BLUEBERRY LEMON POKE CAKE

BLUEBERRY LEMON POKE CAKE

One of the tastiest cakes baked in our kitchen, and I am not exaggerating. Moist. Sweet to the perfect level. Luscious. Everything works in this cake. For the recipe and very detailed tutorial, visit Helen’s blog with a click here. You will make a blueberry jam to fill the cake, and I advise you to give enough time to allow it to set a bit, just to make it easier to work with…. Below, a little comparison between Helen’s neat work and yours truly… my jam was still bit too loose. No major harm done, though, I just thought it was funny to share.

Helen’s site and her cookbooks are a constant source of inspiration for me. Plus, she is tremendously helpful and whenever I get into trouble I drop her an email. She has rescued me more than once. A lot more than once (wink, wink).


Every once in a while, Helen offers online classes, and I’ve taken a couple of them. One of my favorites was last year, in which she taught how to make Chocolate Tartlets with a caramel filling. A thing of pure beauty and absolutely decadent! Make sure to subscribe to her blog, so you get notification of upcoming classes.

SUPERSTAR BAKER #2
CAROLINE
RED VELVET OREO STYLE SANDWICH COOKIES

RED VELVET OREO STYLE SANDWICH COOKIES

Absolutely delicious, you can make them without the cutouts if you’d like to simplify your life, but of course turning them into Linzer territory is not a bad move at all! For the full recipe click here. I made a very slightly modification adding strawberry extract to the filling and a touch of pink gel color. Other than that, I followed her recipe to a T.

You can modify the filling, use jam, or Nutella, the cookies are very flavorful and will be perfect no matter your choice of filling. Caro has countless baking lessons in her site, I highly recommend you pay her a visit and subscribe to be notified of new posts. Caroline is one of the moderators of a Facebook group with almost 18 thousand members, for lovers The Great British Bake Off, and that’s how I got to know her. I don’t know how she manages to do all she does…

SUPERSTAR BAKER #3
TANYA OTT
RED VELVET CAKE DONUTS

As you can see, I’ve been on a red velvet kick lately. These are spectacular and simple to make, especially if you follow the detailed instructions and the very helpful video available in Tanya’s blog. Essentially two bowls, no need for an electric mixer until you get into frosting territory.

Another example of a great baking instructor, Tanya’s articles are always carefully composed, and I am in awe of the amount of work she puts into the making of each of the videos often included in her posts. In case you don’t know, Tanya was one of the contestants in season 5 of The Great American Baking Show, and I shared the tent with her a few times. She even got a handshake from a certain guy with penetrating blue eyes…

That’s all for now, folks! I hope you visit my friends’ sites, and get as inspired
by their baking as I do…

ONE YEAR AGO: Turkey Meatloaf

TWO YEARS AGO: Prue Leith’s Smoked Salmon and Beetroot Blinis

THREE YEARS AGO: Mandioca Frita 101

FOUR YEARS AGO: White Chocolate Raspberry Dome Cake

FIVE YEARS AGO: Blueberry Crumble Coffee Cake

SIX YEARS AGO: Pickled Red Onions

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Strawberry Chocolate Chip Cake

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Mini-Chocolate Cheesecake Bites

NINE YEARS AGO: Whole-Wheat Spaghetti with Grated Tomato Sauce

TEN YEARS AGO: A Taste of Yellow to Honor Barbara

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Gratin of Beefsteak Tomatoes

TWELVE YEARS AGO: Tour de France Final Stage: PARIS

THIRTEEN YEARS AGO: Snickerdoodles with a Twist

UKRAINE, NO WORDS NEEDED

ONE YEAR AGO: Mini-Pullman Sourdough Bread

TWO YEARS AGO: Gibassier

THREE YEARS AGO: Sundried Tomato Twist Bread

FOUR YEAR AGO: And now for something completely different….

FIVE YEARS AGO: Parsnip, Coconut, and Lemongrass Soup

SIX YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, October 2016

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Paleo Moussaka

EIGHT YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, October 2014

NINE YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, October 2013

TEN YEARS AGO: Crimson and Cream Turkey Chili

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Taking a break from the nano-kitchen

TWELVE YEARS AGO: Chocolate Chip Cookies