Last weekend’s Moon Festival in Chinatown revolves around the making, giving and receiving of moon cakes. How do they make these perfect, tightly compressed little cakes stamped with elaborate designs? Just like Mr. Rogers taking us through the crayon factory, the mystery shall be revealed. Thanks to the chefs of Queen’s Bakery and Phoenix Bakery along with Eddie Lin’s blow-by-blow, The Beat got a little peek.
First, the filling is formed into balls. The filling is usually either melon or sweet black bean paste.
Next, the dough is expertly wrapped around the filling
The moon cake is then pressed into a heavy wooden paddle stamped with a design. The design tells you what flavor the filling is. The simple paddles go for as little as 20 dollars, but can only be purchased in Hong Kong. The more elaborate paddles with the Bakery’s name or logo carved into it must be custom made and can run around 2,000 dollars.
The mooncake dough must be pressed firmly into the mold. It takes a lot of elbow grease.
The dough is pressed so tightly into the mold they have to hold the paddle by the handle and whack the hell out of it 3 or four times on the edge of the table until it falls into the chef’s hand. And here we have the finished product!