24 September 2012

Mid-Autumn Festival and making Moon Cakes at home...

... for the first time.

Actually, everything was done for me by Intrico, my local baking supplies vendor in Ipoh Garden. The flour for the skin was premixed and the lotus paste was already ground and nicely packed.

All I had to do was to roll out the flour, knead it, thin it out with a rolling pin and place the requisite amount of lotus paste onto the dough. Then I inserted a salted egg yolk and rolled it all into a neat ball, placed it into a plastic mould (not the traditional wooden moon cake mould), gave it an energetic pump-down and voila! A perfectly square moon cake complete with flower motif on the top.

Pop into the oven for about 8 minutes, remove for glazing with egg yolk, and bake for another 8 minutes. My maiden batch of home-made-with-help-from Intrico-moon cakes was ready, and looked marvellous!

Intrico is really wonderful for the amateur baker or those baking-challenged ones such as myself.

The mid autumn festival falls on 30 September this year, 2012. For this season's moon cake delights, Intrico has a variety of fillings - lotus, white lotus, green tea lotus, pandan lotus, mocha lotus, mung bean, chocolate etc. I found that the white lotus paste tastes better than the pure lotus paste.

In our hurried and busy lives in this era, many activities, processes and experiences have melted away and disappeared from our lives due to the sheer pressures of work, school and time spent commuting to and from places.

I'm just glad my children get to see some traditional Chinese foods being made at home, where they too get to participate in the process. I hope it all makes for a cherished childhood and harmonious family life.

I was touched by an elderly lady's remark to me today when a group of us ladies at school happened to be discussing moon cakes. On hearing that I had made moon cakes, even with this short-cut method, she said in Cantonese, "You are a good and diligent mother. Your children will know your love in your efforts." That was a really nice comment. [thank you :)]

Moon Festival Legends

I grew up listening to the story my mother told me that moon cakes were the instruments used to place instructions and plans by the Chinese to overthrow their Mongol rulers. Overrun by the Mongols in the thirteenth century, the Chinese threw off their oppressors in 1368 AD. It is said that mooncakes - which the Mongols did not eat - were the perfect vehicle for hiding and passing along plans for the rebellion. Families were instructed not to eat the mooncakes until the day of the moon festival, which is when the rebellion took place.

A more romantic legend is that of the "lady living in the moon" dating back to ancient times, to a day when ten suns appeared at once in the sky. The Emperor ordered a famous archer to shoot down the nine extra suns. Once the task was accomplished, the Goddess of Western Heaven rewarded the archer with a pill that would make him immortal. However, following a series of events, his beautiful wife found the pill, took it, and floated upwards to the sky and settled on the moon as a result. Legend says that her beauty is greatest on the day of the Moon festival.
(picture from http://www.ebeijing.gov.cn/Culture/EnjoyBJ/t950624.htm)

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