Mooncake 月餅 is the indispensable Chinese dessert served during the mid-autumn festival which falls on the 15th of August of the Chinese lunar calendar. This is the perfect time for me to share with you the mooncake recipe that I have just made.

The style and purpose of this festive dessert have evolved considerably in the modern-day. Various cake shops and restaurants produce mooncakes with different varieties and design, packed in the deluxe boxes with the elegant decoration. 

This recipe is the traditional mooncake 月餅 that is easy and straightforward. Cantonese style mini mooncake with lotus paste and salted egg yolks. Step-by-step guide on how to make it at home.

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Overpriced mooncakes

It has also become a fad to purchase mooncake as a gift among relatives, friends, and business associates to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival. 

As a result, the price of mooncakes has escalated every year due to high demand. The selling price is many folds compared to the cost of the ingredients. Therefore, I thought this is close to absurdity and trigger me to I should develop a simple recipe that everyone can follow to make it at home. 

Besides, since mooncake has become too commercial today, so if you are using your homemade mooncake as a gift, they will value your sincerity, hard work, and effort.

Making mooncakes does require some skill, and tedious if you start from scratch. Therefore, this mooncake recipe is about how to make the traditional Cantonese style mooncakes by using the ready-made filling, with simplified steps to save time.

It can be completed within an hour.  So let’s get started. 

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Note: The explanation is long because I want to cover all aspects that may affect the results, but the actual work is quite straightforward. 

Important: You need a kitchen scale to measure all the ingredients accurately. Other than that, the recipe has a large margin of error.

1. Preparing the dough 

The first part of this mooncake recipe is to prepare the dough. There are only four ingredients required – golden syrup, lye water, vegetable oil, and plain flour. 

Here are the steps on how to make it:

  • Measure the amount of golden syrup, lye water, and vegetable oil accurately with a kitchen scale. Mix well. 
  • Sieve the flour. Add all at once to the above mixture. 
  • Use a fork or a stainless steel wire whisk to combine all the ingredients. It is hard to mix at the beginning, but after a few stirs, the liquid will start to wet the flour to form a sticky mass. Eventually, it will become a soft dough that picks up all the flour in the mixing bowl. 
  • Cover the dough with cling wrap. Refrigerate for thirty minutes to let the dough relax.  It is more manageable to work with a relaxed dough which is more elastic. As a result, it will not break or crack easily during shaping and wrapping.

Now let’s take a look at each ingredient in detail. 

Golden syrup

Golden syrup is an inverted sugar. Inverted sugar is a mixture of two simple sugars, i.e., glucose and fructose, as opposed to the regular sugar, which is sucrose. It is prepared by boiling the regular sugar with an acid such as lemon juice until it becomes a thick amber-colored syrup.

I have seen some mooncake recipe use honey, not golden syrup. You can use honey as the substitute, and omit the lye water as honey is not acidic. (Lye water neutralize the sourness of golden syrup). However, the pastry may not be as soft as those made with golden syrup, and the color of the pastry is on the lighter side. It also tends to be slightly sweeter than mooncake that made with golden syrup with the same quantity.

The purpose of the golden syrup

Why do we use golden syrup instead of the regular sugar to make mooncake?  There are a few reasons:

  • It retains more moisture and therefore produces a more tender pastry than with regular sugar.
  • It also helps to reduce the rate of staling of starch, thereby extending the shelf life of the mooncake. 
  • It helps to reabsorb the oil from the filling of the mooncake back to the pastry, therefore further soften the pastry.

Vegetable oil

I prefer to use vegetable oil with a neutral flavor, such as corn oil, peanut oil, canola oil, and palm oil. Some people prefer lard, but it has become unpopular recently as there is a concern about the health issue. Moreover, there is a large population here who do not eat pork. Pork-free products are the trend now because everyone in our community can enjoy it. 

Lye water (kansui/枧水 )

Lye water is alkaline and therefore neutralize the sour taste due to the presence of acid in the golden syrup.  By doing so, we can rip the benefit of the golden syrup that creates a soft pastry without the sour taste.

Lye water darkens the color of the pastry.  Increase the amount of lye water if the color of the mooncake is too pale after baking for twenty minutes. 

Homemade lye water

Since the purpose of lye water is to neutralize the acid, that means other alkaline ingredients will do the trick if lye water is unavailable.  I do not suggest you do so, as lye water is readily available in the Chinese community. However, in the event you can’t find this item, you can use baking soda and water as the substitute. 

To do so, bake one portion of baking soda at 175°C/350°F for thirty minutes. Then add four portions of water to dissolve the baking soda. Use this liquid as the substitute for lye water.

Cake flour

Cake flour is ideal for making mooncake. It has sufficient gluten to form the dough but is not too much that will harden the soft pastry.

Since the amount of water varies among different brands of golden syrup, the amount of flour required to form the soft dough is not the same. Because of this, I will add ninety-five percent of the flour to the oil and golden syrup mixture, then add the remainder slowly to the right consistency, if necessary. 

This recipe is the traditional mooncake 月餅 that is easy and straightforward. Cantonese style mini mooncake with lotus paste and salted egg yolks. Step-by-step guide on how to make it at home.

2. Prepare the filling

The lotus paste

You can either purchase the ready-made lotus paste or make your own.

If you are willing to spend some time to make the lotus paste filling, make your own is the best since you can control the sweetness, softness and the texture. I prefer to head to my bakery specialty shop to get the ready-made one to save time.

Note: Lotus paste is not available in every part of the word, but it is the most commonly used filling for mooncake.  You can also use red bean paste to replace lotus paste for the traditional Cantonese mooncake, which is available online at Amazon.

Egg yolk

I have read some recipe with complicated steps to making mooncake, but I promise my recipe  is easy 🙂 Look at this equation:

Pastry + Salted Egg Yoke + Lotus Paste = Cantonese style mooncake.

I am using the salted egg fresh from the market since they have everything that I need. You can purchase the salted egg yolk (with the egg white removed) online too.

Here are the steps:

  • Clean the salted egg, then crack it open.
  • Remove the egg yolk.
  • Wash the egg yolk with water to remove the egg white sticking to the yolk. We only need the yolk. 
  • Use a piece of cloth or kitchen paper towel to pat dry. 
  • Wrap the yolk with the lotus paste

Although I prefer to wrap the egg yolk with the lotus paste without pre-cook the egg yolk, I have carried out a simple test to validate two methods to cook the egg yolk as suggested by some mooncake recipes.

  • 1. Steam the egg yolk with a tablespoon of wine for five minutes. Accordingly, the purpose of the wine is to remove the raw egg yolk smell. 
  • 2. Soak the yolk with oil, then bake it for five minutes. Drizzle some cooking oil to the egg yolk, mix well and set aside for an hour.  This step is to let the egg yolk absorb the oil. Place the egg yolk on the baking tray and bake at 175°C until the surface of the egg yolk starts to turn to lighter color and oil bubbles surrounded the yolks. It will take about five minutes of baking to happen. Since the mooncake is baked at high temperature, the egg yolk will be heated up, and the oil will combine the yolk with the filling. The egg yolk will detach from the lotus paste if the paste you use contains too little oil. 

The result :

Salted egg yolk for mooncake

The result clearly showed that the baked egg yolk separated from the filling. It may be due to I overbaked it, which result in shrinkage of the yolk. The steamed egg yolk seems overcooked a little, while the best result is from the one that was just clean with water and pat dry.

Needless say, I will neither bake or steam the egg yolk, which does not show any significant benefits. The salted egg yolk will be cooked as this are mini size mooncakes.

3. To assemble the mooncake

Measure the ingredients

The ratio of pastry to filling is critical. A good mooncake should have a thin layer of pastry with plenty of fillings. The ratio should be one part of pastry to two parts of fillings. A skillful chef can use even less pastry to encase the filling. 

I use 18g of pastry to 35g of filling.  The weight of the filling is the combination of the lotus paste and the yolk.  Since the weight of the yolk varies, just put the yolk on the weighing scale and add the lotus paste up to 35g.

Wrap the egg yolk inside the lotus paste

To assemble the mooncake is easier then what is described in most of the recipes. There is no specific technique involved. So you can do it your way as long as the egg yolk is fully wrapped within the lotus paste.

I prefer to use my hand to shape it into a circle with the center slightly thinner than the edge. 

  • Place the egg yolk at the center. (You can use half egg yolk if you prefer more lotus paste.)
  • Wrap the egg yolk with the lotus paste.
  • Close the top by pushing up the paste to the top. 
  • Roll it into a ball. Set aside. 
  • If you feel that it is too soft to handle, keep it in the refrigerator for a while until it becomes firmer before start wrapping with the pastry.

Wrap the filling with the pastry

Wrapping the filling with the pastry is more delicate than dealing with the egg yolk and the lotus paste.  A good quality mooncake should have a thin pastry with consistent thickness.

  • One of the easiest ways to achieve this is to roll out the pastry in between two plastic sheets or cling wraps. Roll the pastry to a circle about three times of the dough. You may find a different method of wrapping in other mooncake recipes, which is the individual preference of different recipe developers.
  • Remove the cling film on top, fold the pastry towards the filling.
  • Pinch away the excess pastry where the pastry is double folded to ensure consistent thickness. You can paste the excess pastry on top where the filling is still exposed.  
  • Roll the mooncake with your palms to form a ball. This action also ensures the pastry has fully adhered to the filling without gaps in between. Otherwise, the filling may detach from the pastry after baking 

4. Molding and baking

Shaping the mooncake

  • Roll the mooncake in a bowl filled with some flour. Shake off the excess flour. This step is to ensure the dough will not stick to the mold during shaping. 
  • Similarly, plunge the piston of the mooncake 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.
  • Plunge the mold down lightly to the dough repeatedly for at least seven to ten times to get a perfect shape. Otherwise, the mooncake will look lopsided and with a blurred pattern.

Bake the mooncake

  • Bake it at the middle rack, 175°C/350°F top and bottom temperature for five to six minutes or until the surface start to firm up.  Some mooncake recipes use a different temperature but it is all acceptable. It is essential to let it firm up before removing them to apply the egg wash. Otherwise, it will end up with a blurred pattern. 
  • Remove the mooncake from the oven and brush the surface of the mooncake with egg wash
  • Use a kitchen paper towel to remove any excess egg wash trapped in the gaps of the pattern.
  • Return the mooncake to bake for another ten minutes or until golden brown.

Note:  If you find that the mooncake cracks during baking, try to spray some water to the mooncake before baking.  It should be only one or two sprays from a distance so that there will be no excessive water lands on any part of the mooncakes.

Resting

  • Remove the cake from the oven to cool at room temperature.
  • Transfer the mooncake to an airtight container and keep for three days. During this period, the oil from the filling will migrate to the thin layer of pasty, resulting in a very soft and moist outer layer.

Conclusion

As I mentioned, this is the basic traditional mooncake recipe. You can add melon seed to the lotus paste, or use red bean paste or five kernels instead of lotus paste as the filling.

The other variation is called Snow Skin Mooncake, in which the process does not involve baking at all. It is entirely a different mooncake recipe which will be discussed separately.

Note: If you like this mooncake recipe, chances are you like Chinese pastries. I would suggest you also try the Taiwanese pineapple cake, which is my favorite Chinese dessert.

Yield: 10 mini mooncakes

Easy Mooncake 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

Ingredients

Dough

Filling

  • 10 salted egg yolk
  • 220g store-bought lotus paste (See note)
  • Egg wash to brush the mooncake

Instructions

For the dough:

  1. Mix golden syrup, lye water, and vegetable oil accurately in a mixing bowl.
  2. Sieve the flour. Add all at once to the above mixture. 
  3. Combine all the ingredients. 
  4. Place the dough on a piece of cling wrap. Refrigerate for thirty minutes to let the dough relax. 

For the filling:

  1. Wash the salted egg yolk with water to remove the white sticking to the yolk. Pat dry. 
  2. Wrap the yolk with the lotus paste
  3. Then roll it into a ball. Set aside. 

Wrapping:

  1. Roll out the pastry in between two plastic sheets or cling wraps. 
  2. Remove the cling film on top, fold the pastry toward the filling.
  3. Pinch away the excess pastry where the pastry is double folded to ensure consistent thickness. 
  4. Roll the mooncake with your palms to form a ball. 

Baking:

  1. Roll the mooncake on a surface dusted with flour. 
  2. Plunge the piston of the mold to the flour, and shake off the excess. 
  3. Place the dough on the baking tray.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.  
  6. Remove the mooncake from the oven and brush the surface of the mooncake with egg wash. 
  7. Bake for another ten minutes or until golden brown.
  8. Remove the cake from the oven to cool at room temperature.
  9. Transfer the mooncake to an airtight container and keep for three days before serve.

Notes

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.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

10

Serving Size:

1 mooncake

Amount Per Serving:Calories: 140 Total Fat: 5g Saturated Fat: 1g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 4g Cholesterol: 84mg Sodium: 53mg Carbohydrates: 21g Fiber: 1g Sugar: 5g Protein: 3g
This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix on 7/19/2019

    17 replies to "Mooncake recipe – (Quick and easy)"

    • KP Kwan

      Hi, this is KP Kwan. I am happy to see you in this comment area, as you have read through my recipe. I am pleased to reply to any questions and comments as soon as possible.

    • Sally Teoh-Montgomery

      KP, what is lye water and cake flour? I live in Australia and there are many Asian shops here too. I am looking forward to make the mooncakes. Thank you.

      • KP Kwan

        Hi Sally,
        1. Lye water is kansui/枧水/jian shui in Chinese.
        2. Flour: Flour that you use to make cakes or biscuits. Also called all-purpose flour, with moderate gluten content.

        I hope you can get the ingredients from the Asian grocery shop.

        Regards,
        KP Kwan

        • Minh

          Mr. Kwan,
          Could I ask how long I can keep the mooncake? Should I refrigerate it during the three resting days? Or should I refrigerate it after? Or I shouldn’t refrigerate it at all?
          Thank you so much! Your recipe is amazing!!!

          • KP Kwan

            Hi Minh,
            You can keep the mooncake in a plastic bag, fully seal up, and leave it in the refrigerator. Should be good at least one to two weeks.
            KP Kwan

            • Minh

              Thank you so much, Mr. Kwan! I really appreciate your recipes.

            • KP Kwan

              You are welcome!

    • Nicole

      Hi, may i know what is the size of mooncake mould you using base on this recipe.

      • KP Kwan

        Hi Nicole,
        I am using the mini mooncake mold that is 50g. If you want to use the traditional (full-size mold), it should be around 130g to 150g.
        Enjoy your baking.
        KP Kwan

    • J

      Hi! I tried making mooncakes but the dough ended up really dry and tough despite following the measurements accurately. I tried a 2nd time with less flour and the dough looks better but it’s still dry. What can i do? Thank you

      • KP Kwan

        Hi J,
        The dryness of the outside ‘skin’ is mainly due to insufficient oil migrates back from the filling to the skin. Once you have made the mooncake, it usually needs to let it mature for 2-3 days. During this time, the oil in the lotus paste will enter the skin and soften it. This process is called 回油 in Chinese. The lotus paste is cooked by adding sugar and oil, and therefore it contains oil. I suspect the lotus paste you use contains too little oil. If you use the store-bought one, try to add some oil and knead to combine it. If you cook your lotus past, increase the amount of oil during cooking. I hope it will solve the problem
        KP Kwan

    • Anne

      Thank you for the recipe! It’s very easy to understand and I’m going to attempt it! I found kansui at my local baking shop but in powder form. Do you know how much should I use for the dough?

      • KP Kwan

        Hi Anne,
        I am sorry that I do not know the answer. All the kansui at where I live are in the liquid form. You can refer to the section “Homemade kansui” to make your own, or by using one portion of the powder you have to dilute with four portions of water, i.e., according to the ratio of the homemade kansui. Really can’t guarantee the result but is worth to try.
        KP Kwan

    • Christine

      This is a very interesting recipe and I am thinking about trying to make the mooncakes-however, I am not a fan of egg yolks-can the cakes be made without the salted egg yolk?

      • KP Kwan

        Hi Christine,
        Certainly. Just omit the egg yolks and use mire lotus paste.
        KP Kwan

    • Lea

      I have 2 questions about the kansui. If you increase the amount golden syrup, do you also increase the kansui by the same factor? I was very concerned because I needed to multiply the recipe by 5 and wasn’t sure if also x5 the kansui would be too much?

      Also, I noticed some recipes include the golden syrup in their filling (i.e. in the 5-nut version) but nobody mentions whether kansui is also needed there to neutralize the acid? Am I supposed to just add kansui to every batch of golden syrup before I use it?

      Thanks in advance!

      • KP Kwan

        Hi Lea,
        Thanks for your comment.
        The amount of golden syrup and kansui should be proportionate. If you use 5x golden syrup, kansui should be 5x too.
        As for the 5-nut version, I am not sure as I have not made that before. If I assume that golden syrup is also used for the filling (which I am not sure), then I will suggest adding kansui to the filling too to neutralize the acidity of golden syrup of the filling.)
        (use accurate weighing scale is recommended, as too much kansui can be bitter)
        KP Kwan

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