The Moon Cake are all out at Asian Grocery store in BC I always love the beautiful preparation and the work of art associated with the product As my in-law are from Hong Kong I do have to purchase from a reputable HK Bakery, this year is no exception look at this beautiful box, 8 beautiful Moon cake
Yam Moon Cake
The Mid-autumn festival is held on the 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese calendar, which is in September or early October in the Gregorian calendar. In 2012 it takes place in September 30th
Most mooncakes consist of a thin, tender skin enveloping a sweet, dense filling, and may contain one or more whole salted egg yolks in their center to symbolize the full moon. Very rarely, mooncakes are also served steamed or fried.
Traditional mooncakes have an imprint on top consisting of the Chinese characters for "longevity" or "harmony", as well as the name of the bakery and the filling inside. Imprints of the moon, the Chang'e woman on the moon, flowers, vines, or a rabbit (symbol of the moon) may surround the characters for additional decoration.
Mooncakes are considered a delicacy as production is labor-intensive and few people make them at home. Hence, most prefer to buy them from commercial outlets, which may range from smaller individual bakery shops to high-end restaurants. The price of mooncakes usually ranges from US$10 to US$50 for a box of four, although cheaper and more expensive mooncakes can also be found.
The festival is intricately linked to the legends of Chang E, the mythical Moon Goddess of Immortality. According to "Li-Ji", an ancient Chinese book recording customs and ceremonies, the Chinese Emperor should offer sacrifices to the sun in spring and the moon in autumn. The 15th day of the 8th lunar month is the day called "Mid-Autumn". The night on the 15th of the 8th lunar month is also called "Night of the Moon". Under the Song Dynasty (420), the day was officially declared the Mid-Autumn Festival.
Because of its central role in the Mid-Autumn festival, mooncakes remained popular even in recent years. For many, they form a central part of the Mid-Autumn festival experience such that it is now commonly known as 'Mooncake Festival'.
There is a folk tale about the overthrow of Mongol rule facilitated by messages smuggled in moon cakes.
Mooncakes were used as a medium by the Ming revolutionaries in their espionage effort to secretly distribute letters to overthrow the Mongolian rulers of China in the Yuan dynasty. The idea is said to have been conceived by Zhu Yuanzhang (朱元璋) and his advisor Liu Bowen (劉伯溫), who circulated a rumor that a deadly plague was spreading, and the only way to prevent it was to eat special mooncakes. This prompted the quick distribution of 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. To read the encrypted message, each of the four mooncakes packaged together must be cut into four 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.
Many types of fillings can be found in traditional mooncakes according to the region's culture:
- Lotus seed paste (蓮蓉, lían róng): Considered by some[who?] 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.
- Sweet bean paste (豆沙, dòu shā): A number of pastes are common fillings found in Chinese desserts. Although red bean paste, made from azuki beans, is the most common worldwide, there are regional and original preferences for bean paste made from mung beans, as well as black beans, known throughout history.
- Jujube paste (棗泥, zǎo ní): A sweet paste is made from the ripe fruits of the jujube (date) plant. The paste is dark red in color, a little fruity/smoky in flavor, and slightly sour in taste. Depending on the quality of the paste, jujube paste may be confused with red bean paste, which is sometimes used as a filler.
- Five kernel (五仁, wǔ rén): A filling consisting of 5 types of nuts and seeds, coarsely chopped, is held together with maltose syrup. Recipes differ from region to region, but commonly used nuts and seeds include: walnuts, pumpkin seeds,watermelon seeds, peanuts, sesame seeds, or almonds. In addition, the mixture will usually contain candied winter melon, jinhua ham, or pieces of rock sugar as additional flavoring.
Traditional mooncakes vary widely depending on the region where they are is produced. Most regions produce them with many types of fillings, but with only one type of crust. Although vegetarian mooncakes may use vegetable oil, many mooncakes use lard in their recipes for a better taste. Three types of mooncake crust are 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 (枧水 sodium hydroxide NaOH) or sodium carbonate (碱面 Na2CO3), 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.
- Flaky: Flaky crusts are most indicative of Suzhou- and Taiwan-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 texture similar to puff pastry.
- Tender: Mooncakes from certain provinces of China[which?] are often made to be tender rather than flaky or chewy. The texture of this type of mooncake crust is similar to 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.
Regional variations in mainland China and Taiwan
There are many regional variants of the mooncake. Types of traditional mooncake include:
- Beijing-style mooncake: This style has two variations. One, called di qiang, was influenced by the Suzhou-style mooncake. It has a light, foamy dough as opposed to a flaky one. The other variation, called "fan mao, has a flaky, white dough. The two most popular fillings are the mountain hawthorn and wisteria blossom flavors. The Beijing-style mooncake is often meticulously decorated.
- Cantonese-style mooncake: Originating from Guangdong province, the Cantonese style mooncake has multiple variations. The ingredients used for the fillings are various: lotus seed paste, melon seed paste, nuts, ham, chicken, duck, roast pork, mushrooms, egg yolks, etc. More elaborate versions contain four egg yolks, representing the four phases of the moon. Recent contemporary forms (albeit nontraditional) sold in Hong Kong are even made from chocolate, ice-cream or jelly.
- Chaoshan (Teochew)-style mooncake: This is another flaky crust variety, but is larger in size than the Suzhou variety. It is close in diameter to the Cantonese style, but thinner. A variety of fillings are used, but the aroma of lard after roasting is emphasised.
- Ningbo-style mooncake: This style is also inspired by the Suzhou-style. It is prevalent in Zhejiang province, and has a compact covering. The fillings are either seaweed or ham; it is also known for its spicy and salty flavor.
- Suzhou-style mooncake:: This style began more than a thousand years ago, and is known for its layers of flaky dough and generous allotment of sugar and lard. Within this regional type, there are more than a dozen variations. It is also smaller than most other regional varieties.Suzhou-style mooncakes feature both sweet and savory types, the latter served hot and usually filled with pork mince. Filling made from roasted black sesame (椒鹽, jiāoyán') are common in flaky Suzhou-style mooncakes.
- Yunnan-style mooncake: Also known as t'o to the residents, its distinctive feature is the combination of various flours for the dough, and includes rice flour, wheat flour, and buckwheat flour. Most of the variations are sweet.
- Taiwanese-style mooncake: The most traditional mooncake found within Taiwan is filled with sweetened red bean paste, sometimes with mochi in the center. The most common traditional mooncakes coming from Taiwan are filled mung bean(lu dou) or taro paste, generally with a salted duck egg yolk in the mung bean mooncakes, and either salted duck egg or a savory treat in the taro mooncakes. Modern, more trendy Taiwanese moon cakes are wide in variety that include low fat, lard free and ice cream versions. Popular modern flavors include green tea, chocolate, and tiramisu.