As you know, I was in Hong Kong last month, and I was invited to one of a Mooncake Making Workshop by Kee Wah Bakery in Hong Kong itself. Mooncakes are abundant when it’s September or as the 8th lunar month of the Chinese Calendar arrives. Making and sharing mooncakes is one of the hallmark traditions of this festival. In Chinese culture, a round shape symbolizes completeness and unity. Thus, the sharing of round mooncakes among family members signify the completeness and unity of families.
Kee Wah was originally founded in Hong Kong in 1938 by Mr. Wong Yip Wing (1911 – 1999). The Company is well known in Hong Kong and overseas for its signature products; Chinese Bridal Cake (老婆餅) and Mooncakes (月饼) – though a wide range of Chinese and Western delicacies is equally popular.
Kee Wah has grown from a small store in Shanghai Street in Yau Ma Tei to a renowned brand with outlets throughout Hong Kong, and has also expanded overseas by setting up factories and outlets in Taiwan and North America. Carrying the founder’s no-nonsense approach, it’s tradition and philosophy still remains in this family operated company while at the same time striving to preserve the long tradition of high quality Chinese pastries to modern day customers.
It’s a great place to get some souvenirs back to be shared amongst family and friends. With 75 years of experience in food production, you will find a diverse range of traditional Chinese confectioneries and pastries such as Chinese Bridal Cake, Tea, All Time Favourite snacks (Eggrolls, Assorted Chinese Sweet Crispies) Walnut cookies, Pineapple Cakes, Mooncakes and so much more at Kee Wah.
In recent years, Kee Wah also introduced a new range of healthy products that are low in sugar and cholesterol free such as Brown Sugar Chinese Crispy (Shak Kei Ma), Egg-white and Wheat Cakes, Egg-White Swiss Roll and Black Maltose Toast.
Taking pride in its traditional baking techniques, all Kee Wah Mooncakes are produced locally in Hong Kong plants. The mooncake fillings are all made locally with the finest ingredients sourced. While the most common of mooncake fillings are Lotus Seed, Red Bean or Mixed Nuts, Kee Wah has also a different type of mooncake filled with Egg Custard. A few variety of fillings such as Egg, Black Sesame, Mango, Green Tea and Chocolate. A new healthier low-sugar mooncake made of maltitol is also available.
Here we have 3 chefs from Kee Wah Bakery; Chef Tong 湯師傅, Chef Ken 小師傅阿健 and Chef Chan 燦師傅. Participants for the workshop are media from Hong Kong magazines, newspapers and such. You can’t tell but I’m very lucky and honoured to be in there as well 😀
So first, Chef Tong shares the step of making the Egg Custard Mooncake Skin. It is unlike the traditional mooncake skin with maltose and oil, this skin resembles a soft and buttery cookie dough with its addition of pure butter (lots of it!) First, flour and other dry ingredients are sifted. A well is made in the center and sugar is mixed in with eggs in a swirling motion till sugar has somewhat dissolved. Then butter is added and the flour is pushed inwards towards the eggs mixture creating a dough-like texture. It is then chilled at least 7-8 hours or overnight for easier wrapping.
So here we have the chilled Custard Mooncake Skin, Chocolate Custard Filling and Golden Egg Custard Filling. Now let’s see how Chef Tong wraps them and knock it out from the wooden mooncake mould.
That’s 20g of filling, and 20g of skin. Roll the skin flat into a round shape. Place the filling in the middle. Place it in between your right thumb and index finger, using the left thumb, lightly press the custard in while your right hand is cupping it till it resembles a ball.
With your fingers, pinch the ends together and seal it.
Lightly dust the wooden mould with flour, push the mooncake into the mould and press flat with the back of your palm.
On a wooden table or chopping board, line a dry towel. Knock once on the left side, on the right side, then invert it and knock the top part while your other hand catches the mooncake at the bottom.
Egg Custard Mooncake 迷你蛋黃奶皇月 and Chocolate Custard Mini Mooncakes 迷你朱古力奶皇月 ready to be baked! And I also want to share with you another picture of how the baked Custard Mooncake looks like. It’s unlike the traditional with glazed and shiny golden brown skin. This one, is more yellow and the golden brown, comes only at the sides and because it’s not glazed with any egg wash, it is not shiny.
Top pic : Panda shaped Custard Mooncake and Lotus Paste Mini Mooncake. Can you see the difference in colour ? The panda range were from the 2013 Kee Wah x Ocean Park Mooncake Gift Box Set. It’s only available in Hong Kong unfortunately, but it is available all year round! So if you’re travelling there, remember to get some of the Ocean Park Gift Box Sets, they are SO SO cute!!
Bottom pic : Left Kee Wah Mixed Nuts with Ham Mooncake 五仁什錦(火腿)月餅 and, right, Golden Lotus Paste with Double Yolk Mooncake 金黃蓮蓉月餅 which we will be making next!
The quality of ingredients being put into the mooncake makes a very big difference to the outcome. For some instances, I actually find that the yolks used in mooncakes from Hong Kong are better than the ones here in Malaysia. They are not dry but still moist, bodied and so so fragrant! The picture above shows two different quality of yolks, albeit looking very similar. But the one on the right, which looks more round and brighter in colour are preferred for a better quality mooncake.
Lotus seed plays a big part in traditional mooncakes. As traditionally, there are both Golden Lotus Paste and White Lotus Paste, and Red Bean Paste mooncake filling, choosing any lotus seed that is just mediocre does not make the cut in producing an aroma enticing and delicious mooncake. The lotus seed paste, is made in Kee Wah’s plant itself, ensuring its quality control. As you can see, in the picture above, there are 3 types (conditions) of lotus seed, the fairest one makes the best. The difference between golden and white lotus comes down to the type of sugar that is used to cook the paste.
I always have a very faint idea on how to make the traditional mooncake skin. I’m a fan of mooncake skin, which is why I love to eat the little Piglet Treat. Here, Chef Chan demonstrates how to make the mooncake skin. First, a flour well is built, and in the center, a mixture of wet ingredients is added in, of which includes, maltose (sugar syrup) peanut oil and alkaline water. Then, using fingers, mix in a circular motion to incorporate both wet and dry ingredients.
Gradually push in the flour with a spatula and knead into a dough. With the back of your hand, drag the dough outwards to stretch the gluten. Do it a couple of times until it is a little elastic / stretchy.
Leave it to rest in the fridge for 15 minutes so its gluten relaxes and is more pliable.
Now to wrap the Golden Lotus Paste with yolks, weigh out approximately 140-150g of paste. Firmly push in 2 yolks into the paste, making sure there are no void in between.
Cut out 26g of mooncake skin and press flat. Place it on your palm in a cupping position.
Using another hand, gently press the filling in a circular motion, once it becomes like a mushroom cap, gently push the skin inwards so they meet and form into a ball. The key point is just to make sure that the skin and mooncake filling do not mix together.
They are now ready to be knocked into shape. Similar to the Egg Custard Mooncakes, lightly dust the mould with flour. Press mooncake into the center and press flat with your palm. Knock (much harder) on both sides and also the top part of it while your other hand catches the mooncake as it falls out from the mould.
Next for the Mixed Nuts Ham Mooncake, the steps are similar. It’s only the ingredients that are different. Mixed Nuts Ham Mooncake may come as a sweet and savoury delight. For all the years I’ve eaten Mixed Nuts Mooncake here in Malaysia, I hated it. Well maybe in a nice way, I’m not a big or small fan at all. The artificial and waxy taste is not appealing to me. So I held my distance back when I was learning how to make this and I didn’t put much expectation to how it would taste. But I was wrong. I actually liked it alot!!
Mixed Nuts Ham Mooncake consists of 5 different nuts and seeds, mainly Melon Seed, Sesame Seed, Walnuts, Almond Nuts and Date Seed. In some places, Chinese ham are used, some may not put it in. In Kee Wah, the ham is shredded, not minced or chopped and it results in a very textural mooncake filling. Not only that, you see whole almond nuts being used.
The wrapping process is the same as wrapping any other mooncake. But because this filling is very compact and heavy, you need to apply more pressure when moulding and wrapping it with the mooncake skin.
Here are my mooncakes, ready to be baked.
Here are the rest of attendees in the workshop. Chef Tong, Chef Chan and Chef Ken were very helpful in explaining more about the to dos and donts of making mooncake. It seems a little awkward to attend a class in Cantonese, but well, these decades of TVB Drama has paid off ;P
Kee Wah Mooncakes will now be available in Malaysia, specifically in 1 Utama’s Mid-Autumn Festival Roadshow in Oval New Wing starting this Friday (6th September 2013) Do catch them and have your hands on these specially flown in from Hong Kong Mooncakes. They really do taste different than the locally made ones 😉
Thanks Kee Wah for the invitation!