24 September 2018

Taro Coconut Snowy Mooncakes

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival! I did not intend on making more mooncakes this year after making the baked taro and purple yam with salted egg yolk mooncakes last weekend. I had so much taro leftover from the previous week and I found two other sets of mooncake molds, that it only seemed appropriate to be extra festive and make more mooncakes this weekend. Even though it might be a bit too late to share this recipe (though I highly encourage making these the day of Mid-Autumn), it is too good not to share.

Unlike traditional mooncakes, snowy or 'snow skin' mooncakes are not baked. Snowy mooncakes can have similar fillings as traditional mooncakes but their wrappers have a soft and chewy mochi-like consistency rather than the consistency of a pastry dough. The wrapper dough takes on whatever colour you want it to be. A teaspoon of matcha powder could be added to make a beautiful green mooncake and beetroot powder could create many shades of pink. Next year, I will make snowy matcha mooncakes filled with custard, please hold me to that. 

For the mean time, I have these little gems for you. These snowy mooncakes are filled with a velvety taro and coconut mixture. The filling is encased in a soft and chewy wrapper that I coloured pink and purple to match. To achieve the marbling effect for the wrapper, simply add different types of gel food colour to the dough and mix lightly. Mix the dough until the desired marbling is achieved. Working with glutinous rice flour can be tricky because it tends to stick to all the surfaces and your hands. To make the dough more workable, a light dusting of rice flour will do the trick. 

Lastly, I have the recipe written in grams for you instead of cups and teaspoons. Mooncake measurements are finicky and I highly recommend using a scale to weigh out your ingredients for the best mooncakes.

Taro Coconut Snowy Mooncakes
Yields 8 mooncakes

Taro Coconut Filling
340 g taro
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/8 cup + 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/3 cup unsweetened full-fat coconut milk

Snowy Mooncake Wrapper
50 g glutinous rice flour
35 g rice flour
20 g tapioca flour
45 g icing sugar
180 g unsweetened full-fat coconut milk
15 g vegetable oil

1/4 cup toasted rice flour, for dusting

Taro Coconut Filling
Wash and peel taro root with potato peeler. Wearing gloves for this step is helpful because raw taro can leave skin feely waxy and itchy. Cube taro into 1 inch cubes. 

Place taro into a steamer or steaming basket. Steam until tender to the fork, roughly 30 - 40 minutes.

Remove taro from steamer. Using a fork or potato ricer, mash the taro into a smooth paste.

Add salt, sugar, vegetable oil into mixture. Mix until well combined and paste is smooth. 

Add coconut milk to mixture and mix well. Adjust the consistency of the paste by adding more or less coconut milk.

Set aside and let the filling cool. Chill the mixture in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Snowy Mooncake Wrapper
In a measuring cup, combine milk and oil

In a separate bowl, whisk together glutinous rice flour, rice flour, tapioca flour, and icing sugar.

Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and mix well, making sure no lumps remain.

Strain mixture through fine-meshed sieve. 

Over medium heat, steam the mixture for around 30 minutes until it becomes slightly transparent.

Remove the bowl from the pot and stir the mixture with chopsticks for several minutes until the mixture is glossy and smooth.

Transfer dough to a plate and cover with saran wrap. Knead  for several minutes until the surface becomes oily.

Form the dough into a disc and refrigerate for at least two hours before assembling the snow skin mooncake. A warm dough is too sticky too handle.

Weigh out eight 80-gram scoops of taro filling and gently shape each portion into balls. Set aside.

Divide and weigh the dough into eight 35-gram pieces.

Dust the mooncake mold with toasted rice flour.

Wrap the taro filling with wrapper dough and seal completely. Shape into an oval shape, so it will easily slide into the mooncake mold. Dust the bottom of the mooncake ball with more toasted rice flour.

Press on the mooncake mold to shape the mooncake. Carefully remove from the mold. If any sides of the mooncake is too tacky, brush on toasted rice flour.

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!

22 September 2018

Taro and Salted Egg Yolk Mooncakes

Mid-Autumn Festival has always been one of my favourite holidays and this year it falls on September 24. Growing up, my mid-autumn festivals have always been filled with paper lanterns and mooncakes. I would always have family dinner on the night of mid-autumn and walk over to friends' houses to play with paper lanterns and to enjoy mooncakes. When I was younger, I would eat mooncakes just for the salted egg yolk centre. I did not develop an appreciation for the rich and intense lotus seed filling until I got a bit older. A mooncake is not what we normally associate with the word cake. It is a puck-sized dessert of an intensely rich and earthy lotus seed paste baked inside a thin soft crust. A salted duck egg yolk in the centre of the mooncake to represent the full moon on mid-autumn. The salted egg yolk is slightly sweetened by the lotus seed filling and is the perfect combination of sweet and savoury. My family have always bought mooncakes from the store and I have never thought of making my own until I saw Two Red Bowl's post a few years back. I ordered some mooncakes molds off of Amazon and here I am sharing this recipe and mooncake tutorial with you today.

Making mooncakes is a labour intensive process. Labour intensive, but also very enjoyable. The first task is to visit an Asian grocery store to pick up the essentials for mooncakes — salted duck egg yolks, lotus seed paste (for traditional mooncakes), and alkaline water. Alkaline water or kansui is a solution that regulates acidity in the process of dough making. Alkaline water may sound foreign but you probably have encountered it before — it is what make many types of Chinese egg noodles and Japanese ramen have a springy mouthfeel and take on it's distinct bright yellow colour. Only a small quantity is needed for mooncake making so I made my own alkaline solution.

Traditionally mooncakes have a lotus seed paste filling. The lotus seed paste is sweet, rich, and earthy. Larger mooncakes will usually have a whole salted duck egg yolk, which represents the moon on mid-autumn. For me, the salted duck egg yolk is the best part of the mooncake, especially when it has been lightly sweetened by the lotus seed paste that surrounds it. Throughout the years, the filling of mooncakes have changed. Of course the traditional lotus seed filling is still a popular choice, but you can also find fruit and tea flavoured mooncakes at the store. Another popular variation is the 'snow skin mooncake,' which is a non-baked mooncake wrapped in a glutinous rice wrapper, much like mochi.

For my mooncakes I opted for the more traditional baked variety — I love the sheen and the golden colour of the traditional mooncake. Instead of a lotus seed filling, these homemade mooncakes are filling with a taro filling and of course, the salted duck egg yolk. Taro fillings are more common with snow skin mooncakes but they are just as good in the traditional baked crust. I added a purple yam to the taro mix to increase the intensity of the purple colour of the filling.

If you are making your own mooncakes and want to have a salted duck egg yolk in yours as well, you want to use cooked salted duck egg yolks in your mooncake. Sometimes a raw and cooked salted egg yolk are hard to distinguish because the curing process has solidified the raw yolk and it is no longer runny like a normal raw egg yolk. The easiest way is to buy a pack of cooked salted duck egg yolks. If you can only find raw ones, simply place the yolks on a baking sheet and bake them at 250F for roughly 7 minutes to cook them. I tried buying cooked whole salted eggs and removing the egg whites myself (this option is much cheaper!) but usually these yolks are not as vibrant and rich as the ones that come in the yolk-only packages. You can still use these yolks but they will not resemble the traditional mooncake yolks as much. The mooncakes will be just as tasty though.

Lastly, bake mooncakes a day before you want to serve them. When you take mooncakes out of the oven, you will notice that the crust is slightly dull and will not have the glossy sheen you see with store-bought mooncakes. This sheen starts appearing several hours after it comes out of the oven. This process is called '回油' ('return of oil'). They taste the same, sheen or not, but the sheen makes them extra pretty.

Taro and Salted Egg Yolk Mooncakes
Yields 12 mooncakes 

Taro and Purple Yam Filling
1.5 lbs taro
1 medium sized purple yam
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoon vegetable oil

Mooncake Skin
From Woks of Life
140mL golden syrup (okay to sub honey; mooncakes will be less golden)
1 tsp alkaline water (kansui)
1/3 cup peanut oil
1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour

Egg Wash
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon water

12 cooked salted duck egg yolks

Taro and Yam Filling
Wash and peel taro root with potato peeler. Wearing gloves for this step is helpful because raw taro can leave skin feely waxy and itchy. Cube taro into 1 inch cubes. Repeat steps for purple yam.

Place taro and purple yam cubes into a steamer or steaming basket. Steam until tender to the fork, roughly 30 - 40 minutes.

Remove taro and yam from steamer. Using a fork or potato ricer, mash the root vegetables into a smooth paste.

Add salt, sugar, vegetable oil  into mixture. Mix until well combined and paste is smooth.

Set aside and let the filling cool.

Mooncake Skin
Whisk together the golden syrup, oil, and alkaline water. 

Then add the mixture to the flour, and use a rubber spatula to fold and combine everything into a soft dough. Do not overwork the dough.

Cover the dough and let it rest in the refrigerator for an hour.

Weigh out twelve 60-gram scoops of taro filling and gently shape each portion into balls. Set aside.

Divide and weigh the dough into twelve 25-gram pieces. Keep any leftover dough to use for mending when dough cracks during shaping process.

Take on of the taro balls and make a deep well in the middle. Insert one salted duck egg yolk into the well. Close the top and reshape into a ball, trying to make sure the egg yolk is as centred as possible. Repeat for the remaining 11 portions of filling.

Lightly dust dough balls with flour. Roll out dough ball on a piece of parchment paper into 4-inch round.

Put one piece of the filling in the centre of the rolled out dough. Carefully use the parchment paper to fold the dough onto the filling so that it wraps around the filling. It is okay if your dough cracks - we can reshape it and patch any holes with the reserved dough.

Turn the opening side up and slowly press together to close the opening, to cover all surfaces of the filling. Keep the distribution of dough as even as possible.

Brush on a bit of flour into mooncake mold. Place assembled dough ball into the mould. With the mold facing upwards, apply gentle pressure to shape the dough ball into the mold cavity. Flip the mold over and press the mooncake down with the top pressure bar. Gently guide the mooncake out of the mold. 

Place moon cakes onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. 

Using a spray bottle, gently mist the moon cakes with water. Alternatively you can very gently use a pastry brush to brush on a very thin layer of water onto the top of the moon cakes. This will prevent the moon cakes from cracking when baking.

Immediately put the mooncakes in the oven and bake for 5 minutes.

While the mooncakes are baking, prepare the egg wash.

Once five minutes are up, take mooncakes out of the oven. Brush a thin layer of egg wash onto the mooncakes, making sure there are no large puddles of egg wash. Large wells of egg wash will make your moon cake design less defined. 

Bake for an additional 15 minutes until golden brown.

Remove mooncakes from oven. The mooncakes will look dry at this point (vs. the glossy sheen of moon cakes from the store). Store the cooled mooncakes in an airtight container for a day and the skin will develop the glossy finish we associate with traditional mooncakes. You will start to see this sheen develop within the first couple of hours.

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!

14 August 2018

Coco Cake Land's Bunny Cake + New Book!

I baked, decorated, and photographed this cake on Sunday and I am already talking about it here on Tuesday. I never have this quick of a turnaround time because I get excited to take photograph cakes but writing it up is another story. This time is a bit different because the cake I made on Sunday is a Coco Cake Land cake and it is from her new book, Coco Cake Land: Cute and Pretty Party Cakes to Bake and Decorate. Even if you don't recognize the name Coco Cake Land (but I'm sure you do), you will recognize the cute furry animal cakes (is it weird to call a cake 'furry'?) she makes. Without even looking at the source of the photo, I can easily point out a Coco Cake Land cake. Her style is always so cute and whimsical.

Lyndsay's blog was one of the first blogs I followed when I started doing the whole baking and blogging thing. Since the first day I saw Lyndsay's blog and Instagram, I have been obsessed. Lyndsay is not only a cute cake maker, but she is also a breast cancer survivor (!!) and a maker of super cool feminist cakes. She is  an overall super cool person that I can't wait to meet her irl. We are meeting up for hot chicken sandwiches soon!

Lyndsay's new book arrived in my mailbox last week. The book is split into two categories, cute cakes and pretty cakes, and I wanted to make them all. After having a quarter life crisis about which cake to make, I finally decided on the cover cake. I have never piped fur or used fondant before but Lyndsay's step-by-step photo guide was extremely helpful. Everything went smoothly and after piping rows and rows of pink buttercream fur, the cover bunny cake came to life. I felt a tad bad cutting into the bunny's cute face but I knew I needed to eat a few slices of Lyndsay's vanilla cream cake (might as well call it vanilla dream cake because it was that good) recipe. Congratulations on your new book, Lyndsay! I cannot wait to bake all the things.

Coco Cake Land's Bunny Vanilla Cream Cake
Recipe reprinted with permission from Coco Cake Land: Cute and Pretty Party Cakes to Bake and Decorate by Lyndsay Sung

Yields one three layer 6-inch cake

Vanilla Cream Cake
From Coco Cake Land (*converted to make a 6-inch cake instead of 8-inch)
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cups cake flour
3/4 tablespoon baking powder 
1/3 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup whole milk

Preheat the oven to 350F. Prepare three 6-inch round cake pans.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed.

Turn the mixer down to low speed and add the eggs one at a time until incorporated, then add the vanilla extract.

In a large bowl, use a balloon whisk to mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a large liquid measuring cup, combine the cream and the milk.

With the mixer on low speed, add one-third of the flour mixture, then half of the milk mixture. Keep alternating as you add the mixtures, finishing with the dry ingredients. Careful not to overmix batter.

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared cake pans and smooth the tops with an offset spatula. 

Bake for 25 to 27 minutes, checking for doneness at 20 minutes. 

The cakes will be done when a toothpick inserted in the centres comes out clean and the tops of the cakes are light golden brown.

Cool cakes for 30 minutes in their pans and then gently turn them out onto a wire rack to finish cooling completely. Cakes should be completely cooled before frosting.

Vanilla American Buttercream
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon whole milk
2 -3 drops of gel food colouring, if using

In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until it is light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. 

Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add the sifted confectioners' sugar, vanilla extract, and milk. Mix on low speed to combine the ingredients.

Add gel food colouring if using. Mix on low to distribute colour evenly.

Once the sugar is incorporated, crank the mixer to high speed and beat the mixture for another 2 minutes, until it has more than doubled in volume.

Transfer buttercream into a piping bag fitted with multi-opening piping tip.

For cake decoration
White fondant
Black fondant
Pink fondant
Multi-opening piping tip (I used Wilton #233, Lyndsay uses #234)
Piping bag
Cake turntable (optional)

After layering cake and applying a crumb coat, start piping fur all around the cake by holding the piping bag at a 90-degree angle to the cake’s surface and squeeze in short spurts until entire cake is covered.

- Roll out the white fondant and cut out two white circles for the cheeks. 
- Using black fondant, roll out four short whiskers.

- Cut out two black fondant small circles for the eyes. I used the back of a piping tip for this.
- Cut out two smaller circles of white fondant for inside of the eyes. 

- Cut out a small oval of pink fondant.

- Cut out two white fondant ovals for the ears. Cut out a similar shape, but smaller, of pink fondant for the inner ear. Push a thin skewer down the ear so you can attach it up right to the cake.

Place the pieces on top of the cake and press lightly to adhere to the frosting.

“Life is short. Enjoy the good times, treasure your loved ones, and don’t forget to eat cake.”
- Coco Cake Land

4 August 2018

Rainbow Confetti Cake!

I know it might sound weird and unconventional to pair confetti cake with something fruity instead of the usual pairing of classic vanilla or cream cheese frosting. I promise it still tastes like childhood because: a) strawberry jam (but we make our own easy peasy stovetop strawberry compote here), b) clear imitation vanilla extract (the type that makes everything taste like childhood nostalgia sheet cake), and c) sprinkles. I always feel like I need to make cakes that are super seasonal and inventive, something that no one has ever done before. Sometimes that pressure gets the best of me and I don't end up making anything. So today I am overcoming that and sharing with you a confetti cake and telling you that it is okay to share something just because you like it and it is what you are craving at the moment. (I am still working on the perfect pea cake but it putting peas into cake is hard. That will be my cool and creative cake for you in the near future.)

If you have been following this blog or my instagram for a while you might have noticed a decrease in rustic floral cakes and an increase in buttercream-heavy decorated cakes like this succulent one and my newest favourite, this flamingo cake. I hope you're okay with that be I am really enjoying piping all the things and exploring what piping tips can do. I will still be making many floral cakes (because I will always remember how I started) but in between all the fresh flowers you might find a buttercream rose or succulent.

Rainbow Confetti Cake with Swiss Meringue Buttercream 
Yields three layer 6-inch cake

Confetti Cake
1 cup unsalted butter, softened 
2 cups granulated sugar 
1 tablespoon clear imitation vanilla extract 
2 eggs 
3 egg yolks
3 cups minus 2 tablespoon all-purpose flour 
2 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon baking powder 
1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
3/4 teaspoon salt 
1/2 cup and 2 tablespoon sour cream 
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup rainbow sprinkles (quins and jimmies won't bleed into the batter!)

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease three 6-inch round cake pans.

In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients together. Set aside.

In a measuring cup, combine milk and sour cream. Set aside.

With a stand mixer, beat butter until creamy. On medium speed, beat butter with sugar and vanilla until the mixture is fluffy and pale in colour.

Add eggs and eggs yolks, one at a time, making sure each egg is incorporated before adding the next.

Add in half of the flour mixture and half of the milk mixture.  Mix on low until just incorporated.

Add the remainder of the ingredients and mix until just combined.

Pour batter into prepared cake pans. Bake for 26 - 28 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in centre comes out clean.

Cool cakes on a wire rack for about 15 minutes before remove cakes from pans to cool completely.

Strawberry Compote
200g strawberries, cut into ½-inch chunks
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, toss to combine strawberries and sugar.

In a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. When the butter has melted, add the strawberry mixture and add vanilla extract.

Allow to cook, undisturbed, for 2 minutes. Then gently stir and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the strawberry is tender and juices become thick, 10 to 12 minutes.

Let compote cool completely before assembling cake.

Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream
1/2 cup egg whites (*not from a carton)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature, cubed
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In the bowl, whisk together egg whites and sugar until combined.

Create a double-boiler for the egg white and sugar mixture. Fill a sauce pan with a few inches of water and bring to a simmer.  Place the bowl with the egg white mixture on top to create a double-boiler. The water should not touch the bottom of the bowl.  The double-boiler acts as indirect heat for the egg white mixture. 

Whisk the mixture continuously to make sure the egg whites don't get cooked. Whisk until all the sugar granules have dissolved. 

Once the egg white mixture is hot and no sugar granules remain, carefully transfer the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer.  Fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the mixture on high speed for about 6 - 7 minutes (meringue should form medium-stiff peaks and be cooled to room temperature)

Stop the mixer and swap out the whisk for the paddle attachment.

With the mixer on low, begin adding in the butter a couple tablespoons at a time. It is very important the the butter is at room temperature

Once the butter has been mixed in, add the vanilla extract.

Turn the mixer up to medium speed and mix until silky smooth.

2 large round piping tips
Blue gel food colouring
Pink gel food colouring
2 pieces of rainbow belt candy

Divide the buttercream into three bowls — with half the buttercream into a large bowl and the remaining half divided into two smaller bowls. The larger portion of buttercream will be coloured blue for the sky. One of the smaller bowls of buttercream will be coloured pink while the other small bowl will remain white.

Transfer pink buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a large round piping tip. Do the same for the white buttercream

Place first layer of cake onto cake plate/stand. 

Pipe a thick border of pink buttercream around the edge of the first cake layer. 

Fill the centre with half of the cooled strawberry compote.

Gently place second cake layer and repeat previous step.

Once the top layer of cake has been placed, gently coat the sides and top of the cake with the blue buttercream for the "sky."

Fitted with a large round piping tip, pipe large dollops of white buttercream on the top of the cake to resemble the "clouds" to anchor the rainbow. Five or six dollops for each cloud is a good amount.

Place rainbow candy from the centre of one cloud to the centre of the other. 

With any excess white buttercream, pipe dollops on to the top of the cake. Using an offset spatula, smooth of the buttercream to roughly blend into the sky. 

Optional: add blue sprinkles to the bottom of the cake for extra fun!

Happy baking and happy pride weekend!


© Constellation Inspiration.