The provinces of Zhejiang, Suzhou, and Shanghai are the only places where you may find Su-Style Mooncakes (su shi yue bing). You can tell they are different because of their crust, which has layers of flaky, crumbly deliciousness and is more reminiscent of pastry than a traditional pie crust. Growing up in Shanghai limited my exposure to mooncakes to the Su-Style variety. Today I’m baking red bean mooncakes in the Su style.
Mooncakes, which were once reserved for special occasions alone, are now a popular everyday pastry. Their fillings can range from salty to nutty to sweet. We’ve got you covered if the thought of a tasty mooncake piques your interest.
Tips for the Recipe Before We Begin
- You can make the filling of sweet red bean paste a few days in advance and keep it in the fridge.
- Different types of dough are required for this recipe. Both are refrigerable when made ahead. It’s best to let the dough lie out at room temperature for 30 minutes before attempting to work with it, as the lard will make it sticky while cold.
- If you like, you can also add salted duck egg yolks. Preparing the egg yolks is simple; just refer to our recipe for Lotus Paste Mooncakes with Salted Egg Yolks. Roughly 22 grams of sweet red bean paste can be substituted for each egg yolk, saving you about 40 percent.
- The crust is fragile and needs gentle handling.
- Because there are no preservatives, these mooncakes can be refrigerated for two weeks in an airtight container.
- My preference is to eat them at room temperature, without rewarming, but freshness is key here.
- I made the extra effort to make the traditional red marking for these Su-Style Mooncakes. Stamping on the back of a star anise pod, I made “ink” by mixing 10 drops of red food coloring with 1/8 teaspoon of water. If you want crisp lines instead of a red puddle while stamping your Red Bean Mooncakes, give the star anise a quick shake first.
Okay, let’s get this party started!
FOR THE FILLING:
- 1 recipe of sweet red bean paste filling
FOR THE SOFT DOUGH:
- 3 cups of all-purpose flour
- 1 cup of lukewarm water
- ¾ cup of lard
- 2 tablespoons of sugar
FOR THE PASTRY DOUGH:
- 2 cups of cake flour
- ⅔ cup of lard
- We’ll begin by producing the red bean paste. Our red bean paste recipe is suitable for the instant pot or the burner.
- Finally, whip up some pliable dough. Three cups of flour and two teaspoons of sugar should be combined in a big bowl. Make a well in the flour and add the lard, about 3/4 of a cup. Using a rubber spatula, gradually add 1 cup of lukewarm water and stir between additions. Repeatedly knead the dough by folding it in Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes after wrapping it in plastic.
- Pastry dough is made by mixing 2 cups of cake flour with 2/3 cup of lard. Shape the dough into a ball by kneading it. Seal in plastic and keep in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving.
- After the two types of dough have rested in the fridge for 30 minutes, scoop out individual balls and measure their weights. When calculating the filling, divide the combined weight of the two dough balls by the total number of red bean paste balls. This much dough is required to make one mooncake. One mooncake required 55 grams of dough.
- Spread the dough on a floured surface. If you don’t have a huge workspace, it’s probably best to divide the soft dough and the pastry dough in half and work with them separately.
- Roll out the pliable dough into a large disc on a floured board and place the pastry dough in the center. Squeeze together until you have a big ball. Don’t forget to dust the table with flour as often as is necessary to keep things from sticking.
- Roll it out into a 1/4-inch-thick rectangle with a rolling pin. The rectangle is trifolded afterward. This time, roll it out to a thin rectangle, about an eighth of an inch thick. Try your best to tightly wrap the sheet along its long axis into a tube. Now using the kitchen scale as a guide, cut the tube into cylinders of the correct weight.
- The next step is to take one piece of dough, turn it so that the textured side is facing up, and flatten it. Form a disc of dough about 4 inches in diameter with a rolling pin. Fill the center with a ball of sweet red bean paste and close the sides so that no filling shows. The ball should be placed seam-side down and carefully flattened into a round disc about 1 inch thick. Seam side down, and give it an inch of breathing room on all sides on a baking sheet coated with parchment paper.
- Make another batch of mooncakes until all the dough is gone. Now is also a good time to add a design to your mooncakes using a stamp and 10 drops of red food coloring diluted in 1/8 teaspoon water. Stamp the center of the mooncakes by dipping your stamp (or a star anise pod) into the “ink,” shaking off the excess, and pressing firmly.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and center a rack. Mooncakes need 15 minutes in the oven.
- Bake for 15 more minutes once you’ve carefully flipped each mooncake. Eat these Red Bean Mooncakes with caution because of how flaky and crumbly they are; let them cool before handling them.