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Types of Mooncakes

7/24/2012 6:13:03 PM | by Anonymous

Mooncake: Bakery

These Chinese bakery delicacies are usually consumed during the Mid-Autumn Festival, which holds much significance in Chinese history. They can be passed as gifts between families or business partners or enjoyed during family gatherings held during the festival. A typical mooncake would be palm-sized with golden flaky skin and the baker’s insignia molded onto the top of the mooncake. Their packaging is usually done in tin boxes that have traditional Chinese motifs. As it takes a very long time to prepare mooncakes, most people simply choose to purchase them from the baker. The round or rectangular shaped pastries are usually filled with paste made from red bean or lotus seeds with a thin noodle-like dough crust holding the filling inside. Aside from red bean and lotus seeds, paste, sweetmeats, melon seed or all sorts of nuts can be used to fill the mooncakes. Salted duck egg yolk is commonly used to fill the mooncake during the Mid-Autumn Festival period and these types of mooncakes are available only for a very short period of time. The use of the egg yolk symbolizes the moon, as during the festival period the moon is at its brightest.


The reason why these delicacies are called mooncakes may be due to the fact that they are usually consumed during the Mid-Autumn Festival which can otherwise also be known as Mooncake Festival. In the past, mooncakes were usually eaten while admiring the mid-autumn harvest moon. They can be baked, steamed or fried and go best with oolong or jasmine tea. As many people use mooncakes as gifts, bakers and producers are constantly improving their designs and flavors to attract more buyers. Since the early day, mooncakes have evolved with time to offer people their preferred taste and diet. Bakers boast their low fat mooncakes to attract those concerned about their eating patterns. Despite these vast varieties of choices available to consumers now, the traditional egg yolk mooncakes still remain very popular. Aside from preferences, the evolution of mooncakes over the past was also governed by availability of different ingredients, economic resources and cultural evolution.


Soochow-style Moon Cake

Having begun more than a thousand years ago, these types of mooncakes are one of the oldest surviving variations of mooncakes, that itself has several other sub-variations under its name. One of its most popular variations is "Ch'in-shui Mei-kuei yueh-ping" that is hand-made to have a flaky cover with fruit and nut content. One popular characteristic of Soochow-style Moon Cake is its flaky dough and also the generous amount of sugar and lard that are used to make it.


Peking-style Moon Cake

These types of mooncakes have two variations under their name known as "Ti-chiang" and "Fan-Mao". The Ti-chiang variation is influenced by Soochow-style Moon Cake, with the difference being Ti-chiang having light foamy dough unlike the Soochow-style that has flaky dough. Fan-Mao mooncakes are made to have white flaky dough. These type of mooncakes are often filled with two types of fillings being; Mountain hawthorn and Wisteria blossom flavor. Also the Pecking-style mooncakes are often seen to be very appealing due to their appearance that is often beautifully decorated.


Ningpo-style Moon Cake

These mooncakes are very much prevalent in the Chekiang province and usually have a compact covering with fillings such as seaweed or ham. Also inspired by the Soochow style, these mooncakes are known for their spicy or salty flavor.


Yunnan-style Moon Cake

Also known as "T'o" to the residents of Yunnan, these types of mooncakes are very distinct from other types due to the fact that the flour used to make them combines various flavors such as rice, buckwheat and many more. The combination of several flavors gives these mooncakes a sweet flavor.


Cantonese-style Moon Cake

Having the most number of variations, these mooncakes are one of the most popular mooncakes in the world. Despite their over 200 different variations, a similarity can be identified in all Cantonese-style Moon Cakes. The first similarity is the fact that these mooncakes have somewhat sweet dough that gives them a sweet flavor and secondly, these mooncakes are shaped using a wooden mould. The fillings used in these mooncakes are several catering to the taste buds of many. Some examples of filings used are mushrooms, melon seed paste, lotus seed paste, duck, and chicken or egg yolks. Some may even use four egg yolks to represent the four phases of the moon.



The variations of most of these mooncakes depend on their place of origin. The taste of the mooncakes is altered to suit the taste buds of the residents living in a certain region. Despite the several different variations, mooncakes are enjoyed worldwide by many, be it Mid-Autumn Festival or a simple family gathering.

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