(Update: If you’re looking for the Traditional Baked Mooncake Recipe, click here.)
Just in time for the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival, a special moon cake recipe that will make your head spin.
I have a friend here in Kuching who loves to garden. And since she lives next to an empty plot of land, she has put it to good use by cultivating it. When she mentioned that she grew purple sweet potatoes, I was hopeful that they were Okinawan sweet potatoes. I had to ask her if I could come by her house to help her harvest some.
Turns out she got really busy the weekend that we were going but she did dig up some to give to me. The ones she gave me were purple mixed with white and they were dry in texture. In some ways they reminded me of taro (yams) but a little sweeter. And later I found out that they were known as taro sweet potatoes. Well…that explains it…
Despite their dryness (or maybe because of it), I had the idea that I would boil them, mash them and then add some butter, milk and sugar and make them into a paste and use them as a filling for this pastry. After all, during the Mooncake festival, we find Shanghai mooncakes filled with taro which are very similar in size and shape to these pastries.
Superlative Spiral Sweets
These spiral pastries (also known as Teochew mooncakes) are really wonderfully flaky and so light and delicious. It might look like quite a bit of work but if you follow the instructions carefully, they are not too difficult at all. And considering how beautiful they look, people will be so impressed and think that it was the hardest thing you’ve ever made when in actual fact, it isn’t too hard at all.
I must thank Angie from My Kitchen: My Laboratory blog who first showed me how to do this pastry. Unfortunately, she is no longer blogging—I was really sad when she decided to quit. This is why it is so important to support all your blogger friends and leave encouraging comments for them. This really gives us the motivation to keep plugging away at our blogs *hint*.
The Best Combination
So this spiral pastry recipe comes from her with a few adaptations from me. For those of you in the US, the flour that you use does make a difference to the way your pastries will turn out. The first time I made this, the only flour I had on hand was unbleached all-purpose flour. This did not work well and my pastries did not form nice rings like you see in the pictures here. I found that bleached AP flour worked better and actually if you can use cake flour (or a combination of bleached AP and cake flour) it will be even better.
The filling for this pastry is really up to you depending on what you want your pastry to taste of. I find that sweet potatoes that have been steamed or boiled and then mashed with some sugar and butter really works well. Go ahead and experiment with your fillings and report back if you get some really yummy combinations.
To get the spiral effect on this pastry, you need to use two types of dough (an oil dough and a water dough) that are layered one on top of the other. In order for this to work well it’s really important that both doughs are about the same texture and consistency. Adjust your oil/butter accordingly to get two doughs of about the same “feel”. It’s ok if the oil dough is a little bit softer but again, best if they are about the same. That way when you incorporate them, they will work together well.
Spiral Pandan Moon Cake Recipe
Prep time: 1 hour / Cook time: 30 minutes
For the Moon Cake Filling:
300g sweet potatoes (purple ones preferable)—start with about 400-500g sweet potatoes unpeeled.
1/4 cup milk
2 oz butter
1/4-1/2 cup sugar (depending on how sweet your sweet potatoes are, just taste and add more sugar to taste)
1/2 tsp salt
1. Boil sweet potatoes then peel and mash the sweet potatoes.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients to the mashed potatoes and mix till it forms a paste.
3. Roll out into 20 balls. Put aside while making the pastry dough.
For the Moon Cake Dough:
Water Dough (A)
200g unbleached all-purpose flour
28g icing sugar
pinch of salt
80g cold butter
Oil Dough (B)
180g unbleached all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
90g oil (I use canola)
½ tsp pandan essence
1. For the water dough, sift flour, sugar and salt. Then cut butter into flour mixture using fingertips or pastry blender until mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add in water and mix to form a soft, non-sticky dough. If it is sticky, you will need to add a bit more flour to get it to be the right texture. You should be able to form a soft ball that won’t stick to your hands. You don’t have to knead it. Cover and set aside to rest for 20 mins.
2. For the oil dough, sift flour and salt. Then, make a well in the centre of the flour and add in oil and pandan essence. Draw in the flour from the sides and mix to form a soft even coloured dough (same thing here, if it’s too sticky, add more dough till you form a soft ball that doesn’t stick to your hands). Do not over-mix. Cover and set aside for 20 mins.
To assemble and bake:
3. Preheat oven to 185 C or 350 F.
4. Divide A and B into 10 equal balls.
5. Taking one piece of (A), flatten and wrap (B) in it. Pinch to seal edges.
6. With the sealed side facing up, roll into a rectangle.
7. Roll up like a snail to form a ‘cylinder’, turn the cylinder 90 degrees, with the end facing up.
8. Roll again into a long thin strip.
9. Using a sharp knife or a pastry cutter, cut the cylinder in the middle into two pieces.
10. With the cut side facing down, flatten the dough, making the edges slightly thinner than the centre. I tend to leave a little hump in the center so that when the filling is wrapped around the pastry, the dough will be evenly thick all around (looks like a Mexican sombrero).
11. Wrap the filling and pinch to seal. Try not to ‘tug/pull’ too hard, otherwise the layers will tear. Best to flatten the dough larger than smaller so it’s easier to pinch. And when you pinch, you will find that the bottom looks ugly—don’t worry about it.
Here’s a slideshow on YouTube that I made showing all the steps:
12. Place sealed side down on lined baking tray and bake for about 30 mins until the top and bottom are a light golden brown.
Take a bite and enjoy the yummy, buttery, flaky goodness that this pastry is!