Pandan Spiral Moon Cake Recipe

(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.

baked spiral pastries plated

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.

baked spiral pastries

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.

baked spiral pastries 2

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:

Ingredients:
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

Method:
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.

taro balls filling for spiral moon cakes

For the Moon Cake Dough:

Ingredients:
Water Dough (A)
200g unbleached all-purpose flour
28g icing sugar
pinch of salt
80g cold butter
80g water

Oil Dough (B)
180g unbleached all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
90g oil (I use canola)
½ tsp pandan essence

Method:
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.

oil and water dough for spiral pastry

To assemble and bake:
3. Preheat oven to 185 C or 350 F.
4. Divide A and B into 10 equal balls.

balls of oil and water dough

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.

spiral pastries ready for baking

Take a bite and enjoy the yummy, buttery, flaky goodness that this pastry is!

baked spiral pastries plated

Cheers, Annie

Since we are using sweet potatoes from our friend’s garden, I am entering this post in the August 2010 “Grow Your Own” recipe roundup, created and hosted by Andrea of Andrea’s Recipes.

98 Comments Post a Comment
  1. SharleneT says:

    I’m assuming that the doughs are different colors because you were trying to show us the process? Very clever of you. I know what you mean when you say you’re sorry that someone has stopped blogging. I feel the same way. I do try to comment on postings I enjoy but I’m not sure that all bloggers quit because they don’t get comments so much as they discover just how much work is involved in regular blogging. I certainly hope that you don’t stop blogging because I do enjoy your wonderful recipes and travelogues. Come visit when you can.

    Twitter: SolarChief

    • Annie says:

      I know they are not quitting because of lack of comments but it never hurts to get encouragement from your readers ^_^
      I imagine that most quit because of time constraints and life getting in the way. Nate and I talk about that sometimes when we’re lacking sleep and blogging seems to be taking over. Thankfully, we enjoy cooking and blogging about it so we continue to plug away.

  2. These are beautiful! Wish I could just come knocking on your door to try one right now. If only you still lived in San Jose! ;)

  3. Ok. I tried this last year and I failed so so bad. Will try again this year!

    • Nate says:

      I hope your luck and results are improved after trying out the recipe again. Don’t forget to leave another comment with your results!

  4. Beautiful! And the slideshow was imperative to helping me understand how you made these perfect little cakes!

  5. Anh says:

    I love the loook of your spiral mooncake. So perfect!

  6. Susan says:

    Annie and Nate, Both of you are super human beings; juggling career, parenting and maintaining such a great WebSite and blogging with passion. You might not realise it without physical numbers; but, House of Annie has Gargantuan number of people who are visiting the site. Just a thought, I wonder whether you are able to install a counter to keep track of number of visitor each day…
    I seldom comment, but will make the best effort from now on. Love your site and your Spiral Dessert looks so good, wished I could try a bite. I always purchase similar dessert with tausa paste in it, ummmm!
    By the way, can this pastry method be applied to fried spiral curry puffs? Boy, I love that stuff from Takashimaya!

    • Annie says:

      Hi Susan–thank you for the encouragement. I doubt if we have *gargantuan* numbers but we can hope to get there one day!
      As for applying it to curry puffs, I don’t see why not though I have not tried it myself. If you do, let me know if it works.

  7. Wow, I’ve never seen spiral moon cakes like these before. They look so beautiful, but even though you say it’s easy, it still looks a bit intimidating. I have to study your video more to see if I can even attempt it. These look so professional!

  8. Dorach says:

    I am most impressed with your baking skills, Annie. Really great having the step by step slideshow. I never knew this was classed as moon cake. I always thought this type of pastry is for siew pau or curry puff. I’m too scared to attempt it – looks complicated.

  9. babe_kl says:

    Doesn’t sound easy to me :p you really put in great effort!

  10. [...] Pandan Spiral Moon Cake Recipe [recipe] [...]

  11. PollyBee says:

    Wow! Beautiful. I am hunting for some moon cake recipes, and here I am. I am going to try it, and hope it will turn out for my grandkids to enjoy!
    Thank you so much for sharing.

    • Nate says:

      PollyBee – welcome to our blog!

      I’m excited to hear that you will be trying our recipe. Do come back and let us know how it came out for you and your grandkids :)

      Nate

  12. shaz says:

    Thanks for shairng this recipe! These are my favourite mooncakes, I tried to make them last year but they didn’t spiral, definitely trying these out again.

    • Nate says:

      Shaz – the trick I think is in rolling and flattening the doughs twice. Do let us know if it comes out better for you this time!

  13. Ross says:

    Looks tasty! I am going to pick up the ingredients tomorrow and have a go myself!

  14. Your moon cakes are so beautiful, the spirals look perfect. Thank you for sharing them with Grow Your Own. :-)

  15. girlichef says:

    This is so cool!! I’m intrigued by the technique…and a bit enamoured, I must say. YUM :)

  16. Gudrun says:

    beautiful! I love the photos, especially the last one on the green plate. Inspiring….

  17. Jeannie says:

    Hi! Your mooncakes look so impressive! I will definitely try making these…lovely color and the spirals are so distinctive! Thanks for sharing:D

  18. Helen Tian says:

    This sounds awesome! I’m going to try this out this weekend, if I can get ingredients for the filling. Thanks so much for posting!

  19. Jojo says:

    Hello Annie, am happy to found your website. Your receipe work very well. I’ve managed to wrap 24pcs with your receipe. In fact, I just finished baking. Took me 3 hour. The hardest part for me is to wrap the ‘yam’. I’ll present it to my in-law tomorrow. Will let you know their comment. Thank you very much and Have A Nice Weekend!! Cheers!!!

    • Nate says:

      JoJo –

      thanks for commenting and telling us about your results. How did your in-laws like them?

      • Jojo says:

        Hello Annie, just back from my in-laws house. They like it very much. All the hardworks paid, when they said ‘HO Chiak’ They never had this kind of mooncakes before. Am from Malaysia, now stay in Zürich. :)

  20. Hi, I came from Jeannie’s blog, Baking Diary. I think I may have visited your blog before. Anyway, these mooncakes look fantastic! You make them look so easy. I love the color contrast of the purple sweet potatoes and the green pastry. Sad to say, I have not seen any of these sweet potatoes here in Minnesota. I will have to keep looking. Thanks for your video tutorial. I am inspired to try making these one day.

    Cheers,
    Biren

    • Nate says:

      Biren –

      welcome, and thanks for commenting. If you can’t find the Okinawan sweet potatoes, try using another, dry sweet potato.

      • I might just do that and maybe color it with those beets. What do you think? :) :)

        You have some wonderful recipes here. I was just checking out your poh piah “skin” recipe. Can’t get that here either :( It looks pretty daunting though. I will have to come back as the video is not showing up.

        I was wondering if I could link to your spiral mooncake recipe for a blog post either next week Friday or Monday, the following week. I think that’s the day of the Mooncake Festival.

        • Nate says:

          Biren –

          I would really be interested to know how “roasted beet-flavored” mooncakes taste!

          It’s hard to find good, handmade popiah skins anywhere nowadays. You can use frozen lumpia wrappers to make popiah but the best skins are the fresh kind.

          I have no problem with you linking to us. Link away! ;-)

          • I wasn’t going to make mooncakes this year but you guys have so inspired me. I’ll see what I can come up with in terms of the filling :) This pastry reminds me of the spiral curry puffs I make. They are pretty similar but I like the idea of a pandan flavored pastry. It also looks very lovely.

            I will have to try those popiah skins one of these days as the frozen lumpia wrappers are only good for deep fried spring rolls, not fresh popiah.

            Will let you know once I publish my post. Thanks.

        • Nate says:

          Biren –

          beautiful job!

          http://rotinrice.blogspot.com/2010/09/spiral-butternut-squash-mooncake.html

          Your butternut squash filling sounds perfectly delicious.

  21. Cheah says:

    Directed to your blog from Jeannie’s. Made these twice but failed as the pastry was too dry to wrap up the paste. Will definitely try yours. So kind of you to share. Can I substitute butter with shortening?

  22. I did those before….with matcha, and cocoa…didn’t realize these are mooncakes too.
    Yours look so pretty!

    • Nate says:

      Angie -

      we just made up a big batch of matcha (green tea)-flavored mooncakes. They are wonderful. Cocoa sounds like something I’d like to try!

  23. Rebeca says:

    I am cooking them for my son’s international day. Had a bit of trouble with the taro (used normal) was a bit watery, how can I make it thick like your recipe?

    • Nate says:

      Rebeca,

      I would probably stir the mashed taro over medium heat to let some of the liquid steam off.

    • Annie says:

      Rebeca–did you use chinese taro or regular taro? If you used regular small taros, that might be where your problem lies. I think regular taro is not quite suitable for this application. If you don’t get it to the right consistency, never fear, just substitute with sweet potatoes instead. Hope it works out for you!

      • Lenny says:

        Hi Annie and Nate,
        Thank you so much for posting this recipe. I plan to use Hawaii purple yam, but after I read your comment about types of potatoes I wonder if the Hawaii purple yam will get to the right consistency. How about the orange sweet potatoes?

        I have black bean paste supposedly made for the traditional mooncakes. I have never made any mooncake before, so I will use your recipe as a jumpstart =). I wonder if you remember the diameter of the filling ball? Thank you in advance for.your response.

        • Nate says:

          Lenny,

          You can use orange sweet potatoes, as long as it’s not too wet. But actually the purple yams will be perfect.

          The diameter of the filling ball is about and inch and a quarter but really we measured it by weight.

  24. Claire says:

    Hi Annie & Nate,

    I made the Pandan Sprial mooncakes with a white lotus paste and slivered almonds. My spiral mooncakes don’t look as pretty as Annie’s but it tasted good! Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  25. Hi Annie, these are new to me. I have heard of them but pandan is not something we get here. Looks good. Thanks for participating in DMBLGIT, Sept., 2010 edition.

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My Photo Annie is mistress of the kitchen while Nate is the master of the grill and smoker. We cook the homestyle Asian and Hawaiian foods of our younger days while also exploring the wider worlds of Western foods.

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