Snowskin Mooncake Recipe and Tutorial (冰皮月饼)

August 29, 2014

Mango with mung bean paste and dried mango center

 With the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival right around the corner, I wanted to share this tutorial on how to make your own Snowskin Mooncakes.  Ever since I moved into my own home, I made it a priority to buy mooncakes for my family, but they can be pricey.  Last year, I decided to try making these after finding recipes online.  I then tweaked it to my preference for a softer and smoother skin, with less sweetness.  Usually the fillings are sweet enough without adding more to the skin. These are not baked like the traditional kind, and are tons of fun to make.  They are easy to make if you can find the right ingredients, but can be time consuming.  The hardest part is to find the Kou Fen, fried glutinous rice four.  If this ingredient is not readily available, you can make your own and the instructions are below.  Oh! and measure everything on a kitchen scale... every gram makes a difference!

Things you will need:
Mooncake mold ( Jello molds are a good substitute )
Kitchen Scale
Sifter or fine mesh strainer
Plastic Wrap
Clean surface or pastry mat to roll out mooncake skin

90g fried glutinous rice flour (Kou Fen)
10g wheat starch (Tang Mien Fen)  (This can be left out if someone is allergic to wheat, just add 10g to the rice flour needed)
30g shortening
30g powder sugar
130g water, juice, tea, coffee, or any other flavoring liquid coloring (optional)
Paste of your choice for filling, such as lotus seed, red bean, taro, sesame, or chestnut.
Extra fried glutinous rice flour for dusting.

1. Sift together the glutinous rice flour, wheat starch and icing sugar together. Use a soon to break up clumps.
2. Rub the shortening into the flour mixture until it is a crumbly texture.
3. Combine water or liquid (with coloring, if using), and add to the flour. Mix until a soft dough forms and that all dry and wet ingredients are uniformly mixed.
4. Cover with plastic wrap and set to rest for 10 mins.
5. In the meantime, portion out balls of the filling depending on the size of your molds a in the ratio 1/1.  If you are using a 30g mold, ration out 15g of filling to 15g of skin dough.
6. Once dough is rested, weight out the proper grams and roll into balls.  Place on clean flat surface or pastry mat and flatten with hands until a disc is formed, about 1/8" to 3/16" in thickness.
7.  Wrap dough around filling and pinch close, dust with glutinous rice flour and roll into a ball.  You may also dust the inside of the mold to prevent the mooncake from sticking, but make sure you shake out the extra flour. Place mooncake ball in mold and press onto flat surface.  Knock it out if using traditional molds or plunge out if using the modern plastic molds.
8.  Place in an airtight container and chill before enjoying!  Please eat within 5 days for freshness!
The end quantity highly depends on your mold.  I can make 16 mini 30g mooncakes from this recipe.
Making your own Kou Fen
To prepare your own fried glutinous rice flour, cook glutinous rice flour in a dry frying pan (with no oil) until smoke is visible and flour turns slightly yellow.  Remove from heat and let cool completely before using.

Modern Mooncake Molds
Kou Fen, Wheat Starch, and powder sugar

Use a spoon to break up clumps when sifting
Shortening broken in pieces

Rub shortening into dry ingredients
Correct texture will be crumbly

Add liquid and mix thoroughly
Combine until a smooth soft dough is formed

Measure out filling per ratio for mold size
Measure out skin dough per ratio for mold size

Flatten ball of dough into a disc
Place filling in center of disc

Wrap dough around filling
Pinch close the opening

Dust with extra Kou Fen and roll into a ball
Dust interior of mold and shake out excess

Place mooncake ball into mold
Press down on plunger to release

Peach Yogurt with Lotus paste filling

Coffee with Lotus paste filling

Summer of Love and Wedding Cakes

August 20, 2014

I can't believe that Labor Day is right around the corner, and that summer is coming to an end :(  This summer was full of surprises, adventures, and lots of love in the air!  I was lucky enough to not only attend two wonderful weddings, but was also asked to make their wedding cakes for their special day.

The first wedding cake was for my old friend, Laura.  We met back in early 2003, and have been friends since.  We used to have our weekly sushi lunches.... I'm getting hungry.  She wanted something traditional, but not old fashion; modern, but not too over the top.  After a few exchanges of ideas, I showed her a sketch of a buttercream cake with a modern swirled finish.  The tiers would be accented with gumpaste and royal icing flowers of her wedding colors.  The cakes were torted and filled with strawberry preserve, and crumb coated.  I then used a Wilton icing tip and doubled iced the cakes. To achieve the finish, I used a small angled spatula and ran it across the sides in a radiating rainbow motion, and alternating the direction as I go.  Make sure to overlap over the end of previous swirls.  I did this for all the tiers before stacking them.  Once stacked, I piped different borders on each tier.  The cake was then accented with gumpaste red poppies and royal icing hydrangeas that were airbrushed with a lavender sheen for some sparkle.

The second cake was for my co-worker and friend, Jenn.  This cake was definitely different from any other I've made... only the top tier can be eaten!  Jenn, as crazy as it may sound, is not a cake person... I know!  Who doesn't love cake?!  But, that didn't mean she was skimping on the sweets.  She had an entire sweet table, candy buffet, and a popcorn corner!  Needless to say, she didn't want to end up with tons of cake.  However, she wanted one for show and a top tier for their 1st anniversary.  The solution was to have two large dummy layers, and a top tier of scrumptious cake made with pink muscato champagne.  We looked through the internet for inspiration, and we decided on a white base with ribbons of grey fondant.  The pop of color came from the fantasy yellow flowers that were shaped from gumpaste.  No wedding could be complete without lovebirds!  The dummy cake layers were first prepped for the fondant by rounding the super sharp corners.  I trimmed the corners with an blade to prevent them from tearing into the fondant.  They were then misted with water, and then covered.  The bottom layer was attached to the cake drum with skewers that I measured and trimmed.  I just hammered it through the covered dummy cake until it hit the drum.  The middle dummy cake was then attached to the bottom dummy with the same skewer method, except it didn't have reach the cake drum.  The top cake tier was torted and filled with champagne buttercream.  I cumb coated the cake and covered it in white fondant.  The bottom and top tiers were then decorated in the same matter, with winding ribbons of grey.  The middle was the canvas to a blossoming tree branch where the lovebirds perched.  Due to the top heaviness of the cake (dummy cakes are really light), it is much safer to attach the top tier (which is much heavier) onsite.  I simply placed it on top of the dummy layers and attached it with buttercream.

Congrats again to the two couples!!!!

Soul Togetherness Cake

August 15, 2014

A while back, I was asked by a friend if I could make a birthday cake for her fellow 45 vinyl enthusiast, Kevin.  Kevin has recently introduced Soul Togetherness to Chicago, a weekend festival that brought in an international cast of DJs, and collectors of rare obscure American soul music, all on original 45rpm vinyl.  His birthday coincided with the festival, so naturally, she asked that the cake resemble their logo... no problem!

The cake started out with two 8" rounds and 2 6" rounds of spiced chocolate cake.  These were torted and filled with a rich, buttery cinnamon buttercream.  There is something magical about that combination of sweet and heat.  The top tier was covered in fondant panels that I imprinted with a brick pattern, and covered the top with a circle of fondant with the same imprints.  The bottom tier was covered in white fondant, and accented with mini 45s that I had cut out using round cookie cutters and icing tips.

The cake was then topped off with sugar figures of the owls and record box that I had made a day ahead.  The owls' bodies were shaped by making flattened logs, with one end rounded.  The other end was cut with a knife to create the legs and lower half.  Skewers were used for the legs, and covered in a thin sheet of fondant.  I left the skewers long so I could insert the owls into the cake.  The wings and ears were cut and attached with a touch of water.  A tip for details like these is to poke or create an indent for the piece to sit into with a veining tool.  I then carefully ( and tediously ) added the eyes and chest details.  Small details such as the pupils, freckles, and glasses rim were drawn on with edible markers.  Looking at the poster, I think I did pretty well!  What do you think?

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