Definitely the highlight of the Mid-Autumn Festival22 September, 2010 by Chad
Each year, after month long of arson, Singaporeans are welcome the Mid-Autumn Festival and more importantly, Mooncakes!
For those that require an introduction, mooncakes (at least the original kind) are a type of savory pie filled with lotus paste and salted duck yolks. The unique pastries are only served during the season surrounding the Mid-Autumn Festival.
This year, I bought a box of mooncakes from Tai Chong Kok (Big China) Cake House to try. Apparently you can’t get any more traditional that this.
Mooncakes typically come in boxes of 4 (more on that later). Since no preservatives are added, they have a very short shelf life of about a week tops. They are also pretty filling, so share it with as many people as needed and consume it fast. I made the mistake of traveling the first time I bought mooncakes and returned two weeks later to a boxful of mold.
This type of classical mooncake, has been around since the start of the festival nearly 1600 years ago.
In more recent times, a folk tale emerged about how the cakes were used as a form of communication between rebels during the 14th century. Apparently, the intricate designs on each mooncake’s crust contain part of a hidden message jumbled up. One would have to piece together the patterns on 4 mooncakes to read the message. A sly marketing ploy to sell more mooncakes?
The crust hides a thick lotus paste filling. There are plain lotus paste mooncakes or you can opt for cakes with one, two or even four preserved yolks. Keep in mind that the eggs are really salty. Personally, even this one with just two yolks was a little too much. Otherwise, it was great.
The batter used to make the mooncake’s crust is also baked by itself as sort of a cookie. These cookies are shaped into tiny “piglets” and are put into colorful plastic baskets. Until recently, they were popular snacks among children and were often sold year round at neighborhood bakeries. Fortunately, you can still find them each year around this season.
In this fad crazy country, the spotlight shines on new and exciting novelty mooncakes each year. Hopefully, some will still stop to savor the charm of traditional mooncakes.