The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival, is primarily celebrated in east and southeast Asia and coincides with the fall harvest during the brightest and fullest moon. This year the festival is celebrated on September 21, 2021. As part of the celebration, lanterns of all sizes and shapes, are carried and displayed. They serve as symbolic beacons that light people’s paths to prosperity and good fortune.
Some Background on the Festival
Although China has celebrated the harvest during the autumn full moon since the Shang dynasty (c. 1600–1046 BCE), the celebration as a festival only started to gain popularity during the early Tang dynasty (618–907 CE). Traditionally, the Mid-Autumn festival symbolizes a family reunion.
How to Celebrate…
When it comes to the festival, customs vary throughout Asia. The Mid-Autumn Festival is considered “children’s day” in Vietnam and celebrations include paper lantern fairs and lion dance parades. In southern China, most people will light lanterns and eat autumn fruits such as pomelo and starfruit. Some villages in Hong Kong preserve the tradition of fire dragon dancing through a narrow alley. In South Korea, the Mid-Autumn Festival is a three-day holiday commemorated by sweeping the tombs of ancestors and wearing traditional attire.
All about mooncakes…
One of the highlights of the Mid-Autumn Festival is the mooncake. The calorie-packed pastry is sliced up and shared like a cake between families and friends. The most common kind of mooncake is made of lotus seed paste, salted egg yolk, and lard. They can contain about 1,000 calories. If you would like to make one, try this recipe:
Easy Mooncake Recipe
Traditional Chinese mooncake
with lotus paste and salted egg yolk
PREP TIME: 20 minutes
COOK TIME: 20 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 40 minutes
YIELD: 10 MINI MOONCAKES
For the dough:
- Mix golden syrup, lye water, and vegetable oil accurately in a mixing bowl.
- Sieve the flour. Add all at once to the above mixture.
- Combine all the ingredients.
- Place the dough on a piece of cling wrap. Refrigerate for thirty minutes to let the dough relax.
For the filling:
- Wash the salted egg yolk with water to remove the white sticking to the yolk. Pat dry.
- Wrap the yolk with the lotus paste
- Then roll it into a ball. Set aside.
- Roll out the pastry in between two plastic sheets or cling wraps.
- Remove the cling film on top, fold the pastry toward the filling.
- Pinch away the excess pastry where the pastry is double folded to ensure consistent thickness.
- Roll the mooncake with your palms to form a ball.
- Roll the mooncake on a surface dusted with flour.
- Plunge the piston of the mold to the flour and shake off the excess.
- Place the dough on the baking tray.
- Put the mooncake mold on the dough and plunge the piston downward. The dough will take the shape of the mold, and the pattern will be imprinted on the surface.
- Bake it at the middle rack, 175°C/350°F top and bottom temperature for five minutes or until the surface starts to firm up.
- Remove the mooncake from the oven and brush the surface of the mooncake with egg wash.
- Bake for another ten minutes or until golden brown.
- Remove the cake from the oven to cool at room temperature.
- Transfer the mooncake to an airtight container and keep it for three days before serving.
The actual amount of lotus paste depends on the weight of the salted egg yolk. The total weight of the filling (yolk + lotus paste) is 35g for each mooncake.
Humbly submitted for your consumption,
—Mee Magnum (“Chop! Chop!”)