The Mid Autumn Festival is a time I look forward to every year because I get to make and eat mooncakes! These beautiful rich cakes are filled with a sweet lotus paste and salted duck eggs. It is definitely a time intensive process to make this mooncake recipe, but the results make it worth it in the end. Included in this recipe are all the tips and tricks you need to successfully make your mooncakes!

7 mooncakes sitting on parchment paper.

Every year I look forward to the Mid Autumn Festival because it is the only time of the year I get to eat mooncakes! Growing up I had a love hate relationship with mooncakes. There was a point when I was younger where I didn’t like them at all because I thought they were too rich and sweet. But as I got older, I learned to appreciate not only the flavor but also how beautiful they are.

There are so many different kinds of mooncakes these days with a variety of different flavors and textures, but the ones I remember most are the ones with lotus paste and salted egg. I didn’t always love the salted egg. I often opted for the ones with lotus paste only more often, so I thought I would create a recipe where you have the option to not use them.

6 mooncakes sitting on parchment paper.

What is the Mid Autumn Festival?

The Mid Autumn Festival, or also known as the Moon Festival or Mooncake Festival, takes place on the 15th day of the Chinese lunar calendar. In other Asian countries, it’s known by other names like Tet (Vietnam), Chuseok (Korea), and Tsukimi (Japan). It is the day of the year where the Chinese believe the moon is at its brightest, and it also coincides with the fall harvest.

The Chinese celebrate the festival by lighting lanterns to light people’s path to prosperity and eating mooncakes! Traditionally, mooncakes are a rich cake filled with a sweet paste traditionally made with lotus seeds and a salty egg (typically a salty duck egg). However, they have evolved over the years and include unique fillings as well as no bake variations like snow skin mooncakes. They are some of the most beautiful pastries I have ever seen with gorgeous designs stamped to the top using special mooncake molds.

How are my mooncakes different from traditional mooncakes

Mooncakes have evolved over the years, and they now come in a ton of different flavors. However, I wanted to make something as close to the traditional ones I love most for my first mooncake recipe. I adapted this recipe from Tasty’s mooncake recipe. The biggest change I made was substituting honey for maltose. I couldn’t find maltose, so I thought honey would be a good substitute. This recipe gives you instructions on how to make mooncakes with or without the salted egg. Like I mentioned, I don’t always like the salted egg, so I thought it would be great to have an option to make these mooncakes without the egg. If you’re looking for a more modern version of mooncakes, I would recommend my fig and pecan mooncakes!

Ingredients, Substitutions & Adjustments

Lotus Paste

You can make lotus paste from scratch or find ready to use lotus paste at the Chinese grocery store or on Amazon. If you choose to buy lotus paste, make sure you have about 210 grams of lotus paste for this recipe.

  • Dried lotus seeds – This is the core ingredient for the paste, and they’re also pretty expensive. You can find them at most Asian grocery stores or online on Amazon.
  • Peanut oil – This gives the lotus paste a subtle peanut flavor, and helps keep the paste moist. You can substitute peanut oil with a neutral oil like vegetable or grapeseed oil. I personally recommend using peanut oil for the best flavor.
  • Salt – Brings out the other flavors in the mooncake.
  • Granulated sugar – Adds sweetness to the lotus paste.
  • Honey – I used honey as a substitute for maltose because it was more accessible than maltose. Use a high quality honey for the best results.

Mooncake Skin

  • Golden syrup – Golden syrup is an inverted sugar syrup made by refining sugar cane. This ingredient makes the mooncake skin soft and moist. It can be found at most grocery stores. Personally, I found mine at a store called World Market.
  • Peanut oil – This gives the lotus paste a subtle peanut flavor, and helps keep the skin moist. You can substitute peanut oil with a neutral oil like vegetable or grapeseed oil. I personally recommend using peanut oil for the best flavor.
  • Lye water – Lye water is a potassium carbonate solution that increases the pH of the dough. This helps the mooncake with texture and gives it that signature brown color.
  • All purpose flour – This is the main dry ingredient in the dough. I would not recommend substituting with any other flours.
Soaked lotus seeds in a bowl. One of the lotus seeds has a green bud in the center.
Green bud at the center of the lotus seed.

Other Ingredients

  • Salted duck egg yolks – Salty duck eggs are for those people who like having the salty egg in the center. They have a very distinct salty, umami egg flavor. You can find salty duck eggs at most large Chinese grocery stores. There are also some places where you can order it online. An alternative is to use salted (chicken) egg yolks. I have tried using my homemade salted chicken eggs, and I loved the results!
  • Egg yolk and whole milk – These ingredients are for the egg wash. The egg wash helps give the top its signature brown color.

Equipment you will need

The equipment is essential to this recipe! You will need:

  • Mooncake molds – These will stamp the pretty designs on top of the mooncakes. You can use either 50g or 100g molds. I used 50g molds. This recipe makes 10 50g mooncakes (with both lotus paste and salted eggs) or 4-5 100g mooncakes.
  • Kitchen scale – DO NOT skip out on a kitchen scale. Mooncakes are made in either 50g or 100g molds, so it is important the weight of the ingredients equal the weight of your molds. This helps you get uniform mooncakes every time.
  • Pastry brush – For the egg wash
  • Baking sheet lined with parchment paper

How to make mooncakes

Making the lotus paste and mooncake skin

Soak dried lotus seeds overnight in water. The next day, drain the lotus seeds. Check and remove and green buds in the middle of the lotus seeds. Add them to a sauce pan with fresh water that just covers the lotus seeds. Simmer for 2 hours.

Once done simmering, blend the lotus seeds and water until it is a smooth texture. Pour the lotus seed puree through a fine mesh sieve back into a saute pan. Over medium heat, reduce the lotus mixture until it is 2/3 the original amount until it is as thick as a very thick soup. Add the peanut oil 1 tbsp at a time and stir after each tbsp is added.

Next, add the salt, sugar, and honey. Stir and flip the mixture constantly until it becomes a paste. The paste should be done once it starts to pull away from the pan and hold its shape. Set aside to cool in the fridge for at least an hour. While the paste is cooling, make the mooncake skin. Combine golden syrup, peanut oil, and lye water in a small bowl. Mix until incorporated. Add the flour and mix until a dough forms. Set aside to cool in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Forming the mooncakes

Once the ingredients are cool, take out your ingredients. This should include your salty eggs, lotus paste, and mooncake skin dough. Using a scale, weigh out the ingredients for each mooncake. Place the egg and some lotus paste on the scale. Combined, they should weigh 30 grams. If you are using only lotus paste as a filling, use 30g of lotus paste. Adjust the amount of lotus paste if both weigh more or less than 30 grams. Add some mooncake skin dough to the scale or vice versa The total weight of all 3 ingredients should be 50 grams. Adjust the amount of skin dough if it is more or less.

After you have weighed out the ingredients for 1 mooncake, form the mooncake. Roll the lotus paste in a ball and flatten it so it becomes a disk. Place the salty egg in the center of the disk and enclose the egg with the lotus paste. Once enclosed, roll it between your hands to create a smooth ball. If you are using only lotus paste, roll the lotus paste into a ball and proceed to the next step.

Roll the mooncake dough between your hands to form a ball. Flatten it so it becomes a disk and enclose the lotus paste ball with the disk. The disk won’t completely enclose the lotus paste ball, so you’ll need to gently press the outside of the ball to stretch the skin over the lotus paste. The motion you want to make is similar to how you would put a rubber band onto a ball or a cylinder. You roll your fingers over the rubber band until it reaches the position you’re aiming for. Once you get skin around the lotus paste, roll between your hands to form a smooth ball.

Repeat this process for every mooncake until you run out of lotus paste or dough. Now it’s time to put them in the molds!

Putting your mooncakes into the molds

Prepare a baking sheet by covering it with parchment paper. Make sure to have your molds ready. Coat the mold with a light layer of flour. Shake out the excess. This will help the mooncake to release easily from the molds.

Place each mooncake into the molds and press down firmly onto the baking sheet. Next, lift the mooncake a little bit and push it out of the molds. Repeat this for every mooncake. Let the mooncakes cool in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to an hour. I like to cool mine for an hour. The purpose of this step is to make sure the pattern on top holds in the oven.

Mooncakes after they have been baked.
Baked mooncakes

Baking the mooncakes

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C). Bake the mooncakes for 5 minutes. Make the egg wash by combining 1 egg yolk and 3 tbsp of whole milk. Whisk until smooth. Take the mooncakes out and brush them lightly on top with the egg wash. Put them back in the oven and bake for another 12 minutes. Cool them for 5 minutes on the baking sheet and then on a cooling rack to cool completely. For the best results, put them in the fridge to rest for 24 hours before eating. 

Filling to skin ratio

The filling to skin ratio I use is 30g of filling to 20g of skin. For a 100g mooncake, I use 60g of filling to 40g of skin. It’s important to know this ratio so you can play with the amount of fillings you use. For example, if you are using only lotus paste, use 30 grams of lotus paste.

Mooncake Video

3 mooncakes on parchment paper.

Tips on how to make the perfect mooncakes

Pay attention to every step

The biggest tip I can give is to pay attention to every part of the process. It’s very easy for things to go wrong especially with homemade lotus paste.

Buy lotus paste at the store

If you want to speed up the process, you can purchase ready made lotus paste at Chinese grocery stores.

Cool mooncakes before baking

Make sure the mooncakes are cold before baking or the pattern won’t hold their shape. Leave them in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. I like to leave mine in the fridge for an hour to make sure the design on top holds in the oven.

Egg wash the mooncakes lightly

Make sure to use a very light egg wash on the mooncakes. If you brush too much egg wash over the top, it will distort the pattern.

How do you store mooncakes?

Mooncakes are best enjoyed after they have been refrigerated overnight. Store mooncakes in an airtight container for up to a month in the fridge.

7 mooncakes sitting on parchment paper.

Did you make this mooncake recipe?

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7 mooncakes sitting on parchment paper.

Get the Recipe:
Traditional Mooncake Recipe (with and without salted eggs)

A step by step guide on how to create mooncakes! Filled with sweet lotus paste and salted duck eggs, they are the perfect way to enjoy the Mid Autumn festival.
4.50 from 14 ratings

Ingredients
 
 

Lotus Paste

Mooncake Skin

Other Ingredients

Instructions
 

Making the lotus paste and mooncake skin

  • Soak dried lotus seeds overnight in water.
  • The next day, drain the lotus seeds. Check and remove the green buds in the middle of the lotus seeds. Add them to a sauce pan with fresh water that just covers the lotus seeds. Simmer for 2 hours.
  • Once done simmering, blend the lotus seeds and water until it is a smooth texture. Pour the lotus seed puree through a fine mesh sieve into a saute pan.
  • Over medium heat, reduce the lotus mixture until it is 2/3 the original amount until it is as thick as a very thick soup. Add the peanut oil 1 tbsp at a time and stir after each tbsp is added. Make sure to stir consistently so an even amount of moisture evaporates from the lotus paste.
  • Next, add the salt, sugar, and honey. Stir and flip the mixture constantly until it becomes a paste. The paste should be done once it starts to pull away from the pan and hold its shape. Set aside to cool in the fridge for at least an hour.
  • While the paste is cooling, make the mooncake skin. Combine golden syrup, peanut oil, and lye water in a small bowl. Mix until incorporated. Add the flour and mix until a dough forms. Set aside to cool in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Forming the mooncakes

  • Once the ingredients are cool, take out your ingredients. This should include your salty eggs, lotus paste, and mooncake skin dough.
  • Using a scale, weigh out the ingredients for each mooncake. Place the egg and some lotus paste on the scale. Combined, they should weigh 30 grams. If you are using only lotus paste, use 30 grams of lotus paste. Adjust the amount of lotus paste if both weigh more or less than 30 grams. Add some mooncake skin dough to the scale. The total weight of all 3 ingredients should be 50 grams. Adjust the amount of skin dough if it is more or less.
  • After you have weighed out the ingredients for 1 mooncake, form the mooncake. Roll the lotus paste into a ball and flatten it so it becomes a disk. Place the salty egg in the center of the disk and enclose the egg with the lotus paste. Once enclosed, roll it between your hands to create a smooth ball. If you are using only lotus paste, roll the lotus paste into a ball and proceed to the next step.
  • Roll the mooncake dough between your hands to form a ball. Flatten it so it becomes a disk and enclose the lotus paste ball with the disk. The disk won’t completely enclose the lotus paste ball, so you’ll need to gently press the outside of the ball to stretch the skin over the lotus paste. The motion you want to make is similar to how you would put a rubber band onto a ball or a cylinder. You roll your fingers over the rubber band until it reaches the position you’re aiming for. Once you get skin around the lotus paste, roll between your hands to form a smooth ball.
  • Repeat this process for every mooncake until you run out of lotus paste or dough. Now it’s time to put them in the molds! Prepare a baking sheet by covering it with parchment paper. Make sure to have your molds ready.
  • Coat the mold with a light layer of flour. Shake out the excess. This will help the mooncake to release easily from the molds.
  • Place each mooncake into the molds and press down firmly onto the baking sheet. Next, lift the mooncake a little bit and push it out of the molds. Repeat this for every mooncake. Make sure to brush off excess flour from the tops of the mooncakes.
  • Let the mooncakes cool in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to an hour. I like to cool mine for an hour. The purpose of this step is to make sure the pattern on top holds in the oven.

Baking the mooncakes

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C).
  • Bake the mooncakes for 5 minutes.
  • Make the egg wash by combining 1 egg yolk and 3 tbsp of whole milk. Whisk until smooth.
  • Take the mooncakes out and brush them lightly on top with the egg wash.
  • Put them back in the oven and bake for another 12 minutes.
  • Cool them for 5 minutes on the baking sheet and then on a cooling rack to cool completely.
  • For the best results, put them in the fridge to rest for 24 hours before eating.

Notes

  1. Update 10/4/23 – Based on feedback, I retested and updated the recipe so the dough ingredients are in grams.
  2. This recipe makes 8 50g mooncakes with only lotus paste or 10 50g mooncakes with lotus paste and salted duck eggs. If you want to make 100g mooncakes, this recipe would make 4 100g mooncakes with only lotus paste and 5 100g mooncakes with lotus paste and salted duck eggs.
  3. Buying lotus paste at the store – If you don’t want to make homemade lotus paste, you can get lotus paste at most Chinese grocery stores. This will help speed up the process. You can also buy lotus paste on Amazon.
  4. How to keep the pattern from melting in the oven – The best way to make sure the pattern on top holds in the oven is to make sure your mooncakes are cold before baking them. Put them in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before baking. I like cool mine for 1 hour before baking.
  5. Egg wash the mooncakes lightly – Make sure to use a very light egg wash on the mooncakes. If you brush too much egg wash over the top, it will distort the pattern.
  6. How are mooncakes best served – Mooncakes are best served after they have been refrigerated overnight. The skin softens and the flavors are better.
  7. Storage – You can store mooncakes in an airtight container for up to a month in the fridge.
Serving: 1mooncake, Calories: 233kcal, Carbohydrates: 26g, Protein: 5g, Fat: 13g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g, Monounsaturated Fat: 6g, Cholesterol: 214mg, Sodium: 70mg, Potassium: 73mg, Fiber: 0.3g, Sugar: 16g, Vitamin A: 294IU, Vitamin C: 0.02mg, Calcium: 37mg, Iron: 1mg
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