I HAVE been making red bean paste since I was a child, when my mum taught me to make Shanghai pancakes.
Making red bean paste starts with turning sugar into caramel in oil and adding blended red bean to saute until dry and glossy.
I had been told that lotus paste is made the same way but it’s always been a culinary mystery for me, especially how the opaque, hard lotus seed can be transformed into a smooth, translucent filling.
The lady at the shop told me that I should use seong lin, which are whole lotus seeds with skin and germ, and are supposed to be more fragrant.
But I opted for the lotus seeds which have already been peeled and had the germ removed.
The trick to soften the lotus seed is to pour boiling water and immediately bring to a boil.
Blending the lotus seeds is a bit tricky because it gets so sticky that the blender blades get stuck. I had to blend them in smaller batches in a food processor.
The rest of the process was similar to making red bean paste, except for the additional sugar and oil, and maltose.
However, I found the mooncake pastry to be so sticky that I had to constantly dust my hands, the work surface, the rolling pin and the plastic mould with kao fun (glutinous rice flour).
Perhaps because I didn’t have time to chill the lotus paste overnight, it was so soft that I could not pinch together the pastry dough without squeezing out the contents.
My solution was to crimp two pieces of dough together and to cut off the excess with the rim of the mould. Although it may not be the traditional way of making mooncakes, it worked out well.
As the name suggests, snow skin mooncakes are best kept in the refrigerator because they develop mould if left out.
Lotus paste snow skin mooncake
600g lotus seeds
600ml boiling water
½ tsp lye solution
400ml peanut oil
1 tbsp maltose
8 salted egg yolks
Snow skin10g dried butterfly pea flower
300ml boiling water
225g toasted glutinous rice flour (kao fun, additional for dusting)
1 tbsp condensed milk
3 tbsp shortening Equipment Plastic mooncake mould
Pick out the green germ of the lotus seeds and place into a pot or pressure cooker. Pour in boiling water and add lye solution. Boil for one hour over medium heat or pressure cook for 20 minutes until soft. Put seeds into a blender and blend into a thick paste with a little water.
Heat wok with half the oil and half the sugar. When sugar turns light golden, add the blended lotus paste and stir constantly until smooth and thick. Add in the remaining sugar and oil, stirring continuously until the paste becomes glossy. Finally, add the maltose and stir until combined. Leave to cool overnight.
Separate yolks from the salted egg and steam over medium heat for 10 minutes until cooked. Set aside to cool.
Steep butterfly pea flowers in boiling water for 30 minutes. Strain blue tea into a pot, then add sugar and simmer until sugar is dissolved. Stir in condensed milk and leave to cool completely.
Sift kao fun into the cooled tea solution. Add shortening and knead into a smooth dough. Set aside, covered, for 15-20 minutes to rest the dough.
Dust the work surface and equipment with kao fun. Roll the dough into a log and divide into about 20 equal portions. Roll each portion into a disc with a rolling pin, dusting with kao fun to prevent it from sticking.
Make a bowl shape with one of the rolled discs, fill with about 50g of lotus paste. Press a steamed egg yolk into the centre and add another 25g of lotus paste. Cover the filling with another disc of dough and crimp the edges together to seal in the filling to get a shape that resembles a flying saucer.
Place the “flying saucer” into the mooncake mould, leaving the flat piece to overhang the rim of the mould. Turn the mould on to a hard work surface and press the mould down, using the rim to cut off the excess dough. Remove the excess dough to be rolled again later. Press the plunger down to imprint the mould pattern and to shape the dough. Then lift up the mould and gently push the plunger to extract the finished mooncake.
Keep mooncake chilled before cutting to serve.