A close friend of mine from China introduced me to a unique kind of mooncake, distinctively filled with Yunnan's specialty: cured ham. He emphasized how monumental the Mid-Autumn Festival is in China, with each province showcasing its own signature mooncakes.
Shaped and ready for the final rise...
This revelation had me questioning: Why haven’t these regional treasures been more widely celebrated? Outside of the familiar snow-skin and Cantonese-style mooncakes, there's a vast world to explore. My attempt to dig deeper led me to a lone YouTube video, which, while informative, left me grasping for details on ingredients and proportions. You can get the video here.
Just outta the oven...
Undeterred, I put my own spin on it. Opting for economical bacon and a few flavor-enhancing additions, I let intuition be my guide. The outcome was genuinely delightful, surpassing my expectations. I'm already pondering tweaks for next year—like using baking soda over yeast. Now, without further ado, let's roll up our sleeves and dive into this recipe!
(Make 10 mooncakes)
Unbleached All Purpose Flour, 300g
Active Instant Dry Yeast, 5g
Granulated Sugar, 30g
Sea Salt, Pinch
Whole Milk, 150g
Pork Lard, 30g
Sesame Oil, For Greasing
Sesame Oil, 1 TBSP
Bacon Finely Diced, 200g
Sea Salt, Pinch
Black Pepper, Pinch
Soy Sauce, 1 TBSP
ShaoXing / HuaTiao / Sherry Wine, 1 TBSP
Chinese 5 Spice Homemade, 1/2 TSP
Liquid Smoke Preferably Stubb's, 1 TBSP
Pure Honey, 1 TBSP
Light Muscovado Sugar, 1 TBSP
Pork Lard, 1 TBSP
Unbleached All Flour, 50g
Scallions (White Parts Only) Coarsely Chopped, 25g
Egg Lightly Beaten, 1 For Egg Wash
Cast Iron Skillet / Pan
Prepare the dough.
In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, yeast, sugar and salt well.
*Do not add the yeast directly to the salt. It will kill the yeast.*
Create a well in the middle.
Gradually pour the milk into the well while still mixing with a spatula.
Knead in the lard.
Once it becomes a dough, knead the dough inside the bowl until all the nooks and crannies of flour are kneaded into the dough, about 10 mins.
The dough should be tacky, but not sticky and it should pass the "window-pane" test.
If the dough is too dry, add in water, 1 TBSP at a time. If the dough is too sticky, add in flour, 1 TBSP at a time.
Lightly grease the bowl with some sesame oil.
Transfer the dough back to the greased bowl.
Cover with a lint-free kitchen towel and let rise for 30 mins.
It should have slightly risen.
Punch down the dough and fold the top, sides and bottom to the center.
Flip, cover and let rise for 1 hr.
This process is sorta to ensure that the yeast is activated.
In the meantime, prepare the fillings.
In a skillet over medium heat, add sesame oil.
Once the oil is heated up, add in bacon.
Season with salt and pepper.
Saute until lightly browned.
Add in soy and shaoxing wine.
Saute until well combined.
Remove from heat and transfer to a large mixing bowl.
Add in 5 spice, liquid smoke, honey, sugar and lard.
In the same skillet, add flour.
Toast until lightly browned.
Transfer to the bacon mixture, along with the scallions.
Mix everything together until well combined.
You should be able to form portions of balls without breaking apart.
Set aside to cool down slightly.
Weigh and divide into 10 equal portion of balls, about 25g each.
By now, the dough should be doubled in size.
Divide the dough into 10 equal pieces, roughly 50g each.
Cover with a lint-free kitchen towel and let rest for 15 mins. This is called the bench rest which allows the gluten to relax.
Flatten each dough into a disc, pinching the edges, so that the middle will be thicker.
Place the fillings in the middle of the flattened dough.
Wrap tightly and form into tight dough balls.
Transfer to a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
Cover with a lint-free kitchen towel and let rest for 30 mins.
Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius or 350 fahrenheit.
Bring the mooncakes lightly with some egg wash.
Wack into the oven.
Bake for 25 to 30 mins or until golden brown.
Remove from the oven.
Set side to cool down completely before serving.
It will taste even better the next day.
Way better than I expected, will try this again next year...