To celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival on the 19th of September, the primary school students at Beijing World Youth Academy decided that store bought mooncakes just wouldn’t cut it. Those sickly sweet, calorie bombs are high in fat and often have questionable fillings. Armed with a selection of fresh and dried fruit and handy mooncake moulds, the students worked together to make a simple dough and a tasty filling before baking their creations and, of course, eating the delicious results.
Mooncakes often get a bad rap for being unhealthy and for not being particularly yummy. The students quickly realized that everything tastes better when you make it yourself. This is a great project for parents and kids to do together, and makes for a fun classroom, cooking workshop. Try this recipe at home, they are really easy to make and super-delicious.
This dough is very simple and requires no kneading or rising. Just mix the wet ingredients together first then slowly add the flour till a smooth, shiny ball of dough forms.
Ingredients for 20 small mooncakes:
– 500 grams of plain or jiaozi flour
– 300 grams of golden syrup
– 140 grams of vegetable oil
– 5 teaspoons of alkaline water
You can be as creative as you like with what goes into your mooncakes. Try a combination of fresh and dried fruit – peaches are especially tasty – or even something special like marshmallows, peanut butter, apple crumble or lemon curd! The BWYA students used fresh peaches, pineapple, dried apricots, cherries, oatmeal, raisins, honey and dates.
First make the dough as described above, then divide it into 45 gram balls. This size will work with the small – 4cm diameter – mooncake moulds. You can buy these moulds on Taobao or in most big supermarkets; they cost about 10rmb each and are super easy to use and you could also use muffin tins instead of mooncake moulds for a great treat at any time of year.
Press the dough balls flat and thin then place a spoonful of filling in the middle. Fold the edges around the filling like you are making a dumpling. The only thing to make sure of is that there are no holes or leaks but even then, if kids completely mash up the dough and the filling, when baked, they still taste delicious. It’s really hard to mess these up!
Drop your dumpling into the mould and gently press it down. Turn the mould upside down, press down on the plunger and the mooncake will slide right out onto the table. Pop these little delicacies into the oven on a tray for about 10 minutes on 180 degrees Celsius or until just golden. If they brown too much, they will get very hard.
As time flies towards the end of the year, you could think about some themed mooncakes as holiday food projects with your kids. Imagine, pumpkin pie mooncakes for thanksgiving or vanilla custard with a bit of green food colouring to make a scary, Halloween goo mooncake. Christmas mooncakes could include mince pie filling or apple and cinnamon to make individual pies. They make great lunchbox snacks and keep for several days. You can control the amount of sugar you use by swapping half of the golden syrup with agave nectar, which is now available at Jenny Lou’s. To make it an even healthier snack, try adding a handful of ground flaxseed to the flour for extra Omega-3 and fiber. The options are endless!