Updated: Sep 4, 2021
Many people refer to the Mid-Autumn festival (中秋节) as the Mooncake festival as we generally celebrate this festival by eating mooncakes.
Have you ever wonder why the Chinese celebrate the Mid-Autumn festival?
Mid-Autumn occurred on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month. It is when the moon is the brightest. During ancient times, it is an indication that marked the start of the fall season and most importantly, the time of the harvest crops. As such Chinese emperors would worship the moon in autumn as an appreciation for the good harvest while the ordinary people celebrate their hard work with their families.
Nowadays, without the emperors, the Chinese would still celebrate the Mooncake festival as a time for family reunions.
Aren’t you curious about the first invention of mooncake and how it has evolved over the years? What is the latest type of mooncake that appeals to the new generation? Since the Mooncake festival is around the corner, let’s dive into understanding the trend of mooncakes.
History of Mooncake Festival
Never had it cross my mind that mooncake has a history of 3,000 years.
I started this research when my son asks me why does it call moon cake as he happened to see me taking down the orders of moon cake for Hommyliciouz?
Way back in Shang and Zhou dynasty (17th century – 256 BC) in China, Jiangsu and Zhe Jiang provinces made Taishi cake (太师 / teacher cake) to commemorate Wen Zhong, who is the prime minister of the late Shang emperor.
Here is the picture of the Taishi cake which is the predecessor of moon cake.
I believe Taishi cake has no filling in it as it is only during the Han dynasty (202BC – 220AD) when ZhangQian was sent on a diplomatic mission to the Western of China to introduce sesame seeds and walnuts.
Thereafter, sesame seeds and walnuts were used as the fillings of mooncakes. People then name it Hu cake (湖馃).
Personally, the most fascinating part of mooncake history is during the late Yuan Dynasty (1271 – 1368AD).
I believe this period is the time that marks the variation of the design of the mooncake. A very clever Chinese rebel, Liu Bowen used mooncakes to inspire all their Chinese compatriots to rise against the Mongols overloads.
There were many versions of it either a note within the mooncake that say ‘kill the Mongols on the 15th of the eighth month” or the message has been printed on the surface of the mooncake.
As Mongols have no interest in eating mooncakes, the plan to overthrown Mongols succeeded. Thereafter, people celebrate family reunions by eating mooncakes during the 15th of the eighth lunar month.
Despite the rich history and customs, China only marks this date as a holiday during 2008.
Unfortunately for Singapore, it is not a public holiday in our calendar. Nevertheless, this festival remains as an occasion of a family reunion where everyone comes together and enjoys the tasty mooncake.
There are tons of varieties of moon cake in China. I shall focus on the 6 main types of mooncakes that you can consider a gift for your family and friend this year.
6 Types of Mooncake
1) Cantonese Mooncakes
Over the years, there are variations of mooncakes evolved from different dialects since the early Chinese immigrants first introduced to Singapore. Prior to the research, I generalised this type of moon cake as the classic traditional moon cake.
This mooncake is considered our traditional Cantonese mooncake. This classic delicacy is primarily baked into a brown doughy skin and generally filled with lotus paste with either one or two salted duck egg yolks.
Where to buy:
Joy's Kitchen (SIMEI) ,
Floury affairs (SIN MING) ,
C'est si bon (TOA PAYOH).
Dignity Culinary (CHINA TOWN)
2) Hainanese Mooncakes
Hainanese mooncakes may look very similar to Cantonese mooncakes. This mooncake has been a legend since the 1920s. Hainanese mooncake is also known as Su Yan Bing (酥盐饼).
This moon cake is inspired by Shanghaiese mooncake, Su Bing (酥饼). It consists of 13 ingredients in the filling and the tastes of the ingredients are being absorbed into the crusty outer layer.
When Singapore brand itself as a food paradise, it is probably true. Singapore may be the only country left that you can still find Hainanese mooncakes.
So take this opportunity to visit Chuan Ji Bakery Hainanese Delicacies, 401 MacPherson Road, Macpherson Mall #01-17, 368125
3) Hokkien Mooncake
Honestly, my dialect is Hokkien, I have never tried this Hokkien mooncake. That is because it is not commonly featured during the Mid-Autumn festival fair.
Do you know this mooncake is actually known as Zhuang Yuan Bing (scholarly cake)? During the dynasty time in China, it was meant as a good luck cake for scholars who sat for Imperial Examination to get an administrative position in the imperial court.
This dough is generally white and filling is a mixture of winter melon, candied tangerine peel, melon seeds, sugar and lard.
The culture of eating Hokkien mooncake is distinguishing due to its low popularity in Singapore.
Strongly encourage you to patronise this stall:
Where to buy: Tan Hock Seng Shop at 86 Telok Ayer St, Far East Square #01-01, Singapore 048469.
3) Teochew Mooncakes.
Teochew cuisine generally emphasis on ingredients’ natural flavours with light seasoning and fresh ingredients in its preparation of the dish.
Teochew mooncake has retained its popularity as locals still enjoy the natural sweetness of the yam filling within its flaky crispy crust.
This mooncake has been recreated with its crust having rainbow colours and etc. It is not only tasty but also appealing as a gift to family and friends
Where to buy: Taste For You. (HOUGANG)
4) Snowskin Moon cakes
Bing Pi Yue Bing (冰皮月饼), Snowskin mooncake emerged only in the 1960s by a bakery in Hongkong. Many customers have become health conscious back then. Traditional mooncakes are generally filled with high sugar and oil content.
Snowskin mooncake reduced the oil content by being a non-bake and non-deep fried treat. It is made of glutinous rice and is best served cold with fruit filling.
Nevertheless, for snow skin mooncake to still resemble the taste of mooncake, you will still be able to find lotus fillings within the snow skin mooncake.
Where to buy:
Oh Carol Bake Studio (ANG MO KIO),
Realm of Desserts (OLD AIRPORT ROAD),
LMiracle (CHINA TOWN)
5) Ice Cream Mooncakes
Ice cream mooncake is a creation similar to snow skin mooncake. Visually, you will not be able to identify the difference. The key difference is the main ingredient, ice cream filling.
In my opinion, ice cream mooncakes emerge as a form of globalisation or cultural evolution. Many international chains such as Haagen Dazs, Swensen and many other outlets from all around the world starts to include this menu as their seasonal product during the Mid-Autumn Festival
Where to buy: Swensen's
6) Jelly Mooncakes
Are you amazed by these 3D arts of jelly mooncakes? Yes, mooncake has evolved many folds and lately, Jelly mooncake has become a trend in Singapore.
A simple twist to the traditional mooncakes and these beautiful yet scrumptious cakes has been created. These mooncakes require no baking and are made as an alternative for vegan or vegetarian. If you are wondering where to beautiful jelly mooncakes, you may click the link below
Where to buy:
Sandy Ninestar (YISHUN),
Jomissy Bakes (TIONG BAHRU)
I hope you enjoy reading this blog about Mid-Autumn Festival. It is no longer a festival that only the Chinese are celebrating. It is a festival of gifting and reunion with family and friends.
I would like to take this opportunity to encourage you to try out all the different types of mooncakes and support all the local home chefs who made the mooncakes with love from scratch.
I grew up with my grandma and one of my favourite times when I was young was in the early morning. I could get out of the house with my grandma patronizing the wet market. She would buy fresh ingredients which she would cook for the day. Her love for her family is poured into the food she prepared daily and can be felt by every generation she cooked for. Now with my own kids, I hope they can grow up being able to enjoy healthy home cook food too. As much as I enjoy cooking for my family, I find it a difficult juggle between my 9 to 5 job and preparing meals for my family. At the same time, at the weekend, I could spend more time cooking and I wish I can share my speciality for other people to enjoy.
I knew that in this digital world that we lived in, there has to be a better way and that’s the motivation for me to start Hommyliciouz .
The objective behind Hommyliciouz is to create a connection among people within communities where the passionate chef could provide fresh, home cook meals that are healthy and affordable.
We truly hope that you can enjoy this platform sharing love through cooking.
CEO of Hommyliciouz
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