Sunday, September 15, 2013

Mooncakes with lotus seed filling

Every year, there are a few events I look forward to. The ones that will, no doubt, see my extended family members gathered around way too much food catching up on months of lost time. 

Of course, when my cousins and I were younger, we saw a lot more of each other and our parents would often organise outings. But, as we've grown up and started work and university, there seems to be less time to spare so I'm very grateful for for the birthdays, anniversaries and festivals that force us to put aside some time and come together. 

Lotus seeds
We are celebrating the mid-autumn festival at my house a little early this year, to accommodate busy schedules. The mid-autumn festival is one I look forward to months in advance because it means I get to further hone my recipe for moon cakes. I started making them the mid-autumn festival when I was 14 and it wasn't until last year that I finally perfected them!

It may look ugly now, but wait till it goes through the mold!
Those of you in New Zealand will appreciate how expensive moon cakes are and, it was a visit from my nana (who was here for a holiday), that prompted me to show off my baking skills.  This was almost 10 years ago before I had done much baking or had a fully functioning oven. Although my very first batch didn't turn out that great, I will always remember the day and a half that it took my nana and I to make them and how much fun we had.

Remember to remove the bitter centres
The most important thing about making the lotus paste is making sure you take out the centres as they are bitter and ruin your filling. Most Chinese shops sell lotus seeds with them taken out, but there are always a few that manage to slip through the processing. 

Placing the lotus paste inside the pastry
Trying different quantities of ingredients and oven temperature ranges has seen my poor family sample very interesting mooncakes ranging from rock hard to one batch where the pastry simply melted off! It's been a long and laborious process, but I can finally say that I have a mooncake recipe that works.

Pushing out the mooncake of the mould
For anyone that's interested, mooncakes are eaten during the Mid-Autumn Festival, which occurs on the fifteenth day of the eighth month of the Chinese calendar. This coincides with a full moon and is usually around September or early October in the Gregorian calendar. 

My nana and I still reminisce about the first time we made mooncakes and, every year, I ring home at mid-autumn festival to give her updates on how the recipe is coming along. 

Do you have a recipe that's taken you this long to get right? What about a favourite recipe that you love making with your family and friends?

This recipe was entered into Sweet New Zealand #26, a monthly Kiwi blogging event started by Alessandra Zecchini, hosted by Carmella at Easy Food Hacks.

Mooncakes with lotus seed filling (makes 12)

Lotus seed filling
400g lotus seeds (no centres!)
200g sugar
200ml vegetable oil
lots of water
1. Rinse and soak the lotus seeds for at least 4 hours. This is best done overnight. Remove any bitter centres as you find them.
2. Place the lotus seeds in a large pot with enough water to cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the head and let simmer until they are mushy.
3. Drain the lotus seeds and mash into a smooth paste. Use a food processor or mash through a sieve for a very fine texture.
4. In a non-stick pan, combine the lotus paste with the sugar until it dissolves. 
5. Stir in 1/4 of the oil until well incorporated into the paste. Repeat with the rest of the oil, adding 1/4 at a time. Keep stirring until the oil is fully combined and the paste becomes thick.
6. Remove from heat and let the paste cool completely. 

Mooncake pastry


100g plain flour
60g golden syrup
1/2 tsp lye water
30g vegetable oil

1. In a large bowl, combine the golden syrup, lye water and oil.
2. Sift the flour into the bowl. Lightly combine and knead into a dough. Cover with glad wrap and rest for an hour.


1 egg 
1 tsp water

1. Divide the dough into 12 equal portions and roll each into a small ball shape. 
2. Divide the lotus paste into 12 equal portions and roll into a small ball shape.
3. Take one portion and roll out into a circle about 1/2cm thick and wrap the lotus paste inside. Don't worry if it doesn't look too pretty, just roll the mooncake in your hands to get rid of any lines and patch any gaps with extra pastry.
4. Lightly spray your mold with oil and place the mooncake inside. Press the handle firmly to make an imprint. Transfer onto a lined baking tray and repeat with the remaining portions.
5. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and water for the eggwash.
6. Bake for 10-15 minutes at 180°C, brushing the mooncakes with the eggwash at the 10 minute mark. Bake until the mooncakes are a nice, golden brown.
7. Cool on a wire rack before storing. The pastry will become oily over the following days - don't panic as this is supposed to happen :)


  1. WOW!
    You have done really well to persevere with perfecting this recipe! The look so beautiful too. I have never tried a mooncake but I feel I really should now :)

  2. They are SO cute! I love how detailed those molds are and they're so consistent that way too! :)

  3. Fantastic! And they look perfect! You should enter them in Sweet New Zealand, this month's host is Carmella at Easy Food Hacks! Info here

    1. Thanks for the info Alessandra. Will do :)

    2. Cheers! Let me know if you like to host next month's Sweet New Zealand :-)

  4. Lucy, this is sooo interesting and different from what I'm used to seeing! I'm so curious to try one and see what it tastes like. Thank you for widening my knowledge of different recipes because that's one of the best parts about the blog world~you get to see all cultural foods that are out there. Ps: These look so pretty and kiiind of look like pretty soap! haha.

    1. That's what I thought too! They're not the traditional sized molds but I really like having them smaller :)

  5. Beautiful moon cakes. I admit I was not always a fan of them. I think the problem was that when I was a kid, the only ones I tried were store-bought ones that weren't the freshest. When I tried home-made ones, the story changed. They were delicate and wonderful.

  6. I've always wanted to learn how to make mooncakes since I love eating them! Yours are super adorable!

  7. i'm woefully uninformed about chinese food, so this whole post is a revelation to me. what lovely treats!

  8. Wahhhh so gorgeous! I love how the mooncakes look like. I'd love to make them one day. It seems fun using the mold. :)

  9. Wow, I can't believe you made your own mooncakes! This is on my list of things to do, but somehow I never found the time. Good on you!

  10. Love the intricate pattern of moon cakes and wish I had the molds to make my own