Traditional Mooncakes

photo of three traditional mooncakes on a white plate with tea on the side

I already made snow skin mooncakes, but I also wanted to tackle the traditional ones again before the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival.
photo of tradition moon cakes
Like the snow skin mooncakes, these are actually quite easy to make. The dough is just a few ingredients that you mix together by hand. Then you add the filling, put it through the mooncake molds to shape them, and then bake them for a few minutes. I’ve included a few step by step photos.
step by step photo showing how to roll out the dough for one mooncakestep by step photo with a ball of filling on the rolled out doughstep by step photo showing how the dough might not cover the fillingstep by step photo showing how you can stretch and smooth the dough over the filling so its covered completelystep by step photo showing how you want the smooth side of the ball to at the bottomstep by step photo showing how the lumpy side is inside the mold and the smooth side is at the bottomphoto of the dough inside the stamp to make the decorative topstep by step photo showing the dough with the decorative stamp on top
I still can’t get mine to look quite as nice as the store and bakery ones. It’s hard to find good recipes. I do think this batch came out better than last year’s. One thing I will do differently for future batches is to only use eggwash on the top and not on the sides. On the top, it gives it a shiny glaze. But on the sides, it makes the skin somewhat crackly and casts an uneven sheen.
overhead photo of three mooncakes on a platter
I made mine with lotus filling and red bean. With mooncakes being so expensive, these make a great gift for Moon Festival day. You can also try making the snow skin ones, which are quite colorful and don’t require baking.
photo showing a mooncake sliced to show the filling

three traditional moon cakes with one sliced open to show the filling

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Mooncakes

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Chinese
Servings: 5 mooncakes

Mooncakes are a popular Chinese bakery treat during the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival when they are shared with family and friends. You only need a few ingredients for the dough and a filling (I used lotus and red bean paste). They're easy to make, but you need to allow time for the dough to rest after you make it as well as time for the cakes to sit at room temperature to soften to the right texture.

Ingredients:

  • 60 grams golden syrup (see note)
  • 1/2 tsp alkaline water (see note)
  • 28 grams vegetable oil
  • 100 grams about 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 325 grams premade lotus paste or red bean paste or other filling of your choice
  • 1 large egg beaten (for eggwash)

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, mix the golden syrup, alkaline water, and oil. Sift in the flour and stir until all ingredients mixed. Gently knead the dough with hands until it comes together. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for 40 minutes.  
  2. Take 35 grams of dough, roll into a ball, then flatten with a rolling pin. Roll until dough is very thin and big enough to wrap around the 65 gram of filling. Take 65 gram of filling, make into a ball and put in the center of the dough. Wrap dough around the filling until it is a thin layer covering the entire filling, and seal dough around filling. You may need to roll and maneuver the dough a little to completely cover the filling. One side of your dough ball will be somewhat lumpy from connecting the ends together. The other side should be smooth. 

  3. Choose the desired face plate and connect to plastic mold. Place lumpy side in first, so that is the side that touches the face plate. Press on the plastic lever hard to make a sharp impression, remove pressure and slowly the mooncake will pop out. Repeat with remaining dough and filling. You should be able to make five 100 gram cakes, with a little bit of dough left over.
  4. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place mooncakes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or silpat mat, spacing about 2 inches apart. Bake for about 20-25 minutes. About five minutes before mooncakes are ready, remove and quickly brush the mooncake tops with egg wash. Place back in oven and bake until golden brown, about 5-10 minutes.
  5. Let mooncakes cool. Place in a container and let sit for about 2 days. This will allow the mooncake skin to soften and become darker and developer a shiny exterior from the oils being released.

Notes:

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*Some of the links contained in this post are affiliate links. Much like referral codes, this means I earn a small commission if you purchase a product I referred (at no extra charge to you).

All images and content are © Kirbie's Cravings.

25 comments on “Traditional Mooncakes”

  1. Gorgeous mooncakes, Kirbie! This is definitey on my to-bake list before the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival. I *finally* got a set of the mooncake molds and can’t wait to use them!

  2. They look SO good and professional!

  3. Wow, these look really good! I’d love to try making some with a pineapple paste filling.

    • I would love to make them with pineapple paste filling too. I couldn’t find any premade and I’m too lazy to make my own pineapple paste.

  4. How would you make your own pineapple paste? I was thinking an easy way would be to use softened/soaked candied/dried pineapples and process them in a food processor?
    Also, if we I can’t find or don’t have the alkaline water, is there a substitute I can use (like using baking soda to neutralize the golden syrup)?
    BTW, I’ve been following your blog for some time. I’ve lived in the Bay, I’m from SGV, and I have a sister in OC so all your restaurant reviews are so helpful when I want to suggest a restaurant to my family. AND, I’ve been thinking about moving to San Diego (live in Portland, OR). Thanks for all your posts!

    • Sophia, alkaline water is actually really easy to find. When I first made these last year I hadn’t heard of alkaline water, but a lot of “health orientated” grocery stores like Whole Foods sell it. You can just buy a small personalized sized drinking bottle. Just look at the label and it will say it’s been alkalized or sometimes it will give a PH level. I don’t know if there is a sub for alkaline water.

      As for pineapple paste, I’ve never made it but I’ve seen a few recipes. It’s a bit lengthy because it’s like making jam that is then reduced further. Here are a few recipes: https://rasamalaysia.com/taiwanese-pineapple-tarts-recipe/2/
      https://www.morethanbread.net/2011/02/pineapple-cake.html

  5. Holy crap these are awesome! You are a much better Asian than I am, twin 😉

  6. Those look so pretty! Where can you buy pineapple paste?

    • No idea! Which is why mine don’t have pineapple paste =( I think it’s more readily available in Asia, but I haven’t seen it in SD. I used premade lotus paste which is at Ranch 99.

  7. Your mooncakes looks great and I like your pattern print. Can we exchange our mooncakes?

  8. The mooncakes look really good.

  9. Not “as nice as the store and bakery ones”???? No way, I think yours look just PERFECT. I’m so in awe. Hopefully I can tackle this myself before Mid-Autumn Festival this year 🙂 Thank you so much for the detailed step-by-step tutorial, I’ll definitely need it!

  10. Ooh, these are so pretty! They look so impressive! My son really wants to try mooncakes this year. I don’t think I’m ambitious enough to try making them though, lol! What’s your favorite bakery to buy them at?

  11. Wow they look sick! I’m looking to make my own Moon cakes as well ^^” Your recipe looks quite easy to follow =D But I have never heard of Alkaline water before, is it necessary to use it? I wonder if Holland & Barrett sell it? And hopefully my dad’s Chinese supermarket will sell the pre made paste :))

    • Alkaline water is pretty essential from the other recipe posts I read. it is what keeps the dough soft. It is often at stores like Whole Foods or other type of health food stores. it’s actually a pretty popular product, some people believe it will keep you healthier due to the Ph level of the water.

  12. I am in Town now and I can’t seem to find the Alkaline water anywhere I live in the UK and I’ve been to Boots and Holland & Barratt but they only do Alkaline tablets? I was thinking to get them and just dissolve it in water? Or should I not do that? Haha thanks for your help 🙂

    • I’m not sure how it is in the UK. In the US the water is sold in regular bottles next to other bottle waters in most health food grocery stores. The way to know it’s alkalized is that it will usually say in the description that this water has gone through alkinization, or it will list a PH level of 8 or 9 point something, etc. Perhaps you can do a search on google to get an idea f who would carry it. Or if you ask the grocery stores near you?

    • I know this may be too late, but I just remembered that some people use something called lye water which I guess is like alkaline water. Is that perhaps easier to find in the UK?

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