The mooncakes I grew up eating were the golden, baked kind--usually filled with red bean or lotus seed paste and sometimes even a salted egg yolk inside. It's so ubiquitous that iOS has an emoji for them (while there still isn't an emoji for waffles??). They were good, but oh so heavy and dense; it was hard to eat more than a few tiny slices. Luckily, a few different kinds have popped up since I was a child like the swirly, flaky Taiwanese version I made a few years ago. Even more recently, I've been seeing snowskin mooncakes where the skin is made with glutinous rice flour resulting in a soft, translucent skin.
I did some research on how to make them, and it looks like there's a hard way with a lot of ingredients and steps and an easy way with just a few ingredients and no steaming involved. I already know how difficult it can be to work with mochi, so I went with the easy way by following the directions from Kirbie's Cravings and Tiny Urban Kitchen.
The first step is either sourcing roasted glutinous rice flour or making your own. Since I already had some flour at home, I tried dry roasting it in my wok. It's not hard to do, but it does take a little patience and a lot of stirring because you get that first wisp of smoke. Then you sift it together with powdered sugar before rubbing in a fat like shortening. I've tried using coconut oil and butter and both tasted great, but since butter has a slightly higher melting point, it's easier to work with.
The hardest part for me was figuring out how much liquid to add to make the dough. If you don't add enough it'll be too crumbly to work with, and if you add too much, it'll be too sticky. I found the hard way that if you overdo it with the liquid, you can add in some more powdered sugar to bring it back to the right consistency.
Then there's the matter of the filling. I knew I didn't want to go with the traditional heavy fillings and wanted to come up with something that might be more accessible for the American pantry and palate. It had to be something pliable enough to mold, firm enough to keep its shape, wouldn't need additional cooking, and hopefully stable at room temperature. I considered a cheesecake type filling or cookie dough before I thought of an even better idea: cake truffles! You may know them as cake balls or cake pops, but it's what you get when you mix cake crumbs with frosting or another binder, roll them up and cover with chocolate or candy melt.
It's incredibly easy to make and there's a million different variations. I made some to bring to a friend's birthday party, and since she loves watermelon, I baked a strawberry box mix cake, mixed it with some frosting and mini-chocolate chips, and wrapped it with pandan flavored snowskin so it looked like a watermelon. I also make some with non-dyed snowskin and Funfetti cake inside for a birthday cake mooncake. My favorite version so far has been using the chocolate chip-passion fruit cake truffle from All About Cake and wrapping it with a snowskin made with passion fruit pulp instead of water.
Snowskin Cake Truffle Mooncakes makes about 35 mooncakes using a 50 g mooncake mold
For the cake truffle filling:
9"x13" cake, baked and cooled
Mix-ins like mini-chocolate chips or sprinkles (optional)
Binder, like frosting or fruit juice
Use your hands to crumble the cake into crumbs. Add your mix-in, if using, and toss to combine. Add your binder, a little at a time, until you can squeeze the mixture and it holds its shape. Use a cookie dough scoop to form about 35 balls.
For the snowskin:
250 grams sweet glutinous rice flour
225 grams powdered sugar, plus more for rolling
75 grams butter or coconut oil
125 grams water or other liquid like fruit juice
Food coloring and/or flavor extract, optional
In a large skillet or wok, dry roast the rice flour over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it starts to smoke and change color. Allow to cool to room temperature, then sift together with the powdered sugar into a medium bowl. Add the butter or coconut oil and then rub it into the dry mixture until well combined. If using the food coloring and/or flavor extract, add to the water. Add half of the liquid to the bowl and mix together. Gradually add more of the liquid until the mixture is soft and pliable but not tacky. It's a fine line between a crumbly and sticky texture so go slowly.
Pinch off about a walnut size lump of the mixture and roll out into a thin disc on a surface dusted with powdered sugar. Wrap the snowskin around one of the cake balls. If there is extra snowskin after wrapping the cake ball, pinch it off and return it to the rest of the mixture. If you need more, pinch off a bit from the mixture and patch up the hole. Place the wrapped cake ball on the counter, seal side down, and make sure it will fit into the mooncake mold. If it is too wide, use your hands to gently shape it narrower and taller. Use a 50 g mooncake mold to press it into shape and release. Repeat with the rest of the snowskin dough and cake balls. You can store the mooncakes in an airtight container in the fridge for 1-2 days or 1-2 weeks in the freezer. Let thaw before serving.
I can't believe it's the end of July, and this is the first time I've posted on here this year! I've been posting less and less on here because I've been cooking mostly from recipes on here already or using recipes from cookbooks. So the fact that I'm posting this recipe means it's a good one. =)
I've made mochi waffles before using mochi blocks, but these are made from scratch. I was inspired by Snixy Kitchen's chocolate mochi donuts which were in turn inspired by Third Culture Bakery's mochi muffins. I figured that by increasing the surface area, you'd get a better crispy crust to chewy innards ratio (and I was right)! I also like that making the batter from scratch means you can play around with the flavors more. I tried making a pandan version and a black sesame version, but I think it would be easy to adapt this recipe to make a chocolate or matcha version as well!
Mochi Waffles makes 8
16 oz. sweet glutinous rice flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons black sesame seeds or 1/4 teaspoon pandan extract
4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
13. oz can of coconut milk, well shaken
2 beaten eggs, room temperature
Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. If making the black sesame flavor, grind the sesame seeds (I used my coffee grinder) and add to the dry ingredients.
Whisk the wet ingredients together, then add to the dry ingredients and mix until smooth. Since this is a gluten free recipe, you don't need to worry about it getting tough if you mix too much. Batter will be fairly thick.
Preheat waffle iron to medium. Use a 1/2 cup measure to scoop batter onto the waffle iron and cook until lightly golden. The waffle will be soft and floppy coming out of the iron but will crisp up a bit upon cooling. Serve immediately with sweetened condensed milk and fruit if you like. Leftovers can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for a day. Reheat in a toaster oven before serving.
I used my Cuisinart classic waffle maker to make these, so the settings and quantities might have different results depending on your waffle maker.
I've been making scallion pancakes the same way for years using a recipe I got from one of my chef friends, but recently I tried a different recipe based on a recommendation from the same friend and discovered this one makes just as good, if not better scallion pancakes in a lot less time!
One of the main ingredients for the recipe she sent me was lard, but since I don't usually have that in stock, I tried substituting with bacon fat. I'm surprised no one else came up with this combo before because it's basically combining two of the greatest tasting things in the world into one. I fiddled around with the other ingredients a bit to balance out the extra flavor from the bacon fat and ended up with this recipe. I think it's flavorful enough to not need a dipping sauce, but if you really want one, you can mix up some soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, and hot sauce to your liking.
Bacon Fat Scallion Pancakes makes 5 pancakes
300 gram all-purpose flour
6 grams kosher salt, divided
10 grams sugar
175 grams warm water
30 grams chopped scallions (about the amount from 1 bunch of scallions)
50 grams bacon fat, melted
Vegetable oil for frying
Mix the flour, 2 grams of salt, sugar, and warm water together and knead for 5 minutes until it forms a cohesive ball of dough. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.
In the meantime, chop the scallions, melt the bacon fat, and measure out the remaining 4 grams of salt.
Divide the dough into 5 equal portions (I like to use the scale for this). Roll out one of the portions into a rectangle. Flip the dough occasionally to prevent it from sticking to the work surface. When it won't get any thinner with a rolling pin, gently stretch the dough out with your hands to get it even thinner, but stop if the dough starts to rip.
Spoon a fifth of the melted bacon fat on top of the dough and spread it all around with the back of the spoon. Sprinkle a large pinch and a half of salt all over and then do the same with a fifth of the chopped scallions.
Starting from the long edge, roll up the dough to form a long rope. Don't worry about making a tight coil; focus on making the dough as thin as possible by continuing to gently stretch it out as you roll it up. Once you've formed a long rope, coil it up into a spiral with the seam side down and tuck the end underneath. Use your palm to squash the coil into a flatter disc. Set aside and repeat with the other 4 pieces of dough.
Heat up a frying pan over medium high heat with enough oil to generously coat the bottom. If you have any leftover bacon fat you can add it to the oil. While the oil is heating, use your hands or a rolling pin to flatten one of the discs even more. Aim for the pancake to be a little less than 1/4" thick, but don't flatten it completely or else you'll lose all the layers.
Fry the pancake until golden brown on one side and flip. It's okay if you need to flip it a few times to get it evenly browned on both sides. While you're waiting for it to cook, go ahead and flatten the next pancake. When the pancake is done, transfer it to a wire rack. Make sure you have enough oil left in the pan and fry the next one.
If you have any leftovers, I like to quarter and freeze them so that I can use my compact air fryer to reheat them.
I've been making sourdough bread for one of my church's services every week for communion for a while now and figured it was finally time to write up how I make it. This is loosely based on the country loaf from Tartine Bread, a wonderful book that goes a lot deeper into the methods involved. I highly recommend picking up a copy and reading it through at least once to not only understand how sourdoughs work but also to be inspired by the process.
I was lucky enough to get a sourdough starter from a friend instead of having to start one from scratch. The first thing you should probably know about a starter is that you'll need to feed it periodically. This means discarding the majority of it* and adding some more water and flour to the remaining bit and letting it get all bubbly and doubled in volume. I feed my starter with a 50/50 mixture of all purpose flour and whole wheat flour and an equal amount of water by weight (e.g. 25 g of all purpose flour, 25 g of whole wheat flour, and 50 g water). Some people do this daily, or even more than once a day, but since I really only make bread once a week, I keep my starter in the fridge and just feed it the day before I want to bake it. If I happen to be traveling and can't feed it for more than a week, I'll do a few rounds of feeding until it starts smelling and acting like I'm used to before I use it.
Some of the equipment you'll want to invest in are a food scale (to weigh the ingredients with), digital thermometer, bench scraper, banneton (to hold the shaped dough for its second rise), parchment paper, a lame or razor blade to score the loaf with, and a Dutch oven or cast iron combo cooker to bake the loaf in. The only Dutch oven I own is actually an oval one and not wide enough for the round loaves I make, so I came up with another solution for trapping the steam in: I bake my bread on a pre-heated baking stone and invert a stock pot over it.
Timing wise, I feed my starter the morning of the day before I want to bake. It takes about half a day for it to get fully active. Then I add the rest of the ingredients and do a few rounds of folding over the next 3-4 hours. I'll shape it, place it in a banneton, and let it do its final rise overnight in the fridge. The next morning I'll preheat the oven and take the dough out when the oven is ready, score it while it's still cold, and bake it. So it takes about 24 hours from start to finish but could be shorter if you do the second proof at room temperature or longer if you leave the dough in the fridge.
My dough ends up being about 73% hydration, which for me hits the sweet spot of being easy to work with but still wet enough to produce an evenly open crumb. I still mess up my shaping all the time, but thankfully the loaves just get cut up into cubes to be used for communion, so no one can really tell. I hope this guide helps you in your sourdough exploration, and please let me know if you have any questions about my process!
*If you hate discarding starter all the time, you can use it to make other baked goods like pizza dough, English muffins, even pancakes and banana bread!
My Communion Bread makes 1 loaf
For the starter:
About a tablespoon of sourdough starter (I use a 100% hydration starter with 50/50 all purpose flour and whole wheat flour)
100 grams lukewarm water, about 80°F
50 grams all purpose flour
50 grams whole wheat flour
Use a spoon to mix the starter with the warm water. Add the flours and mix until no dry bits remain. Let sit in a warm spot until it has doubled in volume, usually about 4-6 hours depending on how active and warm it is. You can check to see if the starter is fully active by dropping a spoonful into some cold water. If it floats, the starter has built up enough gas and is ready to be used. Weigh out 100 grams into a large bowl and place the rest of the starter in the fridge until next week.
For the bread:
100 grams active starter
350 grams warm water, about 80°F, plus more for your hands
450 grams all purpose flour
50 grams whole wheat or spelt flour
10 grams kosher salt
Rice flour, for dusting
Use a spoon to mix the active starter with the warm water. Then add the flours and mix until no dry bits remain. Cover and let sit in a warm spot for 25-40 minutes.
Sprinkle the salt evenly over the top of the dough. Wet one hand thoroughly and dribble some water over the salt to start dissolving it. Using the hand that's wet, grab a quarter of the dough, pull it up and fold it over the top of the dough. Rotate the bowl 90° and repeat 3 more times until the salt is completely encased. Pinch the dough a couple of times to separate it into a few pieces, turn it, and smush it back together again before repeating the stretch and fold process. Repeat the pinch, rotate, stretch, and fold process until the salt is fully dissolved and incorporated into the dough, wetting your hand whenever the dough starts getting sticky again. Cover and set the timer for 30 minutes.
When the timer goes off, wet your hand again and do another 4 stretch-and-folds, rotating the bowl 90° each time. After the last fold, turn the dough over so that the seam is underneath. Cover and set the timer for another 30 minutes. Repeat this every 30 minutes for a total of 3 hours. At this point the dough will be a lot more relaxed and have risen a bit. If you press a wet fingertip into the dough, the indent should almost disappear within a few seconds.
Flour a work surface and gently transfer the dough onto the flour. Grab a quarter of the dough, stretch it up and fold it over, then repeat 3 more times on the other corners of the dough to create a taut surface underneath. Dust the top with a little more flour and then flip it over. Use a bench scraper or your hands to gently tuck the sides under and form a half dome. Let sit for 20-30 minutes. In the meantime, dust the banneton with rice flour so that your dough won't stick to it.
After the dough has rested, lightly flour the top and flip it upside down with the bench scraper. Apply another set of stretch-and-folds and flip it over again. Slide the ball around on the work surface until it forms a nice, taut half dome. Use the bench scraper to quickly transfer the dough upside down into the banneton. Cover (I use a shower cap) and place in the refrigerator for about 12-14 hours.
Place a Dutch oven or a baking stone and stock pot in the oven and preheat to 475°F. When the oven is ready, take the banneton out of the fridge and invert the dough onto a large piece of parchment paper. Dust the top with some rice flour if you want some definition to your scoring pattern. Wipe the excess flour off and use a lame or razor blade to score the loaf.
Quickly transfer the dough and parchment paper into the Dutch oven or onto the baking stone. Cover with the lid or stock pot. Reduce the oven temperature to 450°F and bake for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, carefully remove the lid or stock pot and continue to bake for another 20-25 minutes until nicely browned. Listen to the bread crackle as it cools. Try to wait at least an hour before slicing.
When I first found out that the summer collaboration star ingredient was going to be tomatoes, I envisioned a really photogenic heirloom tomato pizza or shakshuka, but the more I thought about it, the more my mind kept going back to this homely, homey dish. It will never win awards for its looks, but it's so incredibly easy to make and delicious that I thought it was worth dusting off from my archives and writing up again.
The thing is, after making this over the many years, it's become one of the few dishes I can make without consulting a recipe. So I figured I'd write it the way I make it. If you really need to follow one (at least the first few times), check out my old post about it. But I bet you'll be making this so many times that eventually you'll be able to make it like I do!
Tomato and Eggs over Rice serves 1 hungry girl or 2 as a side dish
1 large tomato or 2 smaller tomatoes, total volume about the size of your first
3 eggs (add a 4th egg if your tomatoes are really big; you want about an equal volume of tomato:egg)
Kosher salt, to taste
About a tablespoon chopped scallions (I usually just harvest a few stalks from the ones I have growing on my windowsill)
A splash of rice wine
A splash of rice wine vinegar
A pinch of sugar
About 1/2 teaspoon of cornstarch
Crack the eggs into a bowl and add a few pinches of salt. Whisk with a fork until nicely beaten. Let sit while you prepare the tomatoes and scallions.
Chop the tomatoes into a small dice. Chop the scallions. Add a splash of rice wine and sesame oil to the eggs and whisk again.
Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat and add some oil. When the oil is hot, add the beaten eggs and scramble into large curds. When the eggs are 90% cooked, transfer back to the small bowl.
Add a bit more oil to the pan and heat again. Add the chopped tomatoes, a splash of rice wine vinegar, a pinch of sugar, and a larger pinch of salt. Cook for a minute, then add the chopped scallions.
Add a tablespoon of water to the cornstarch to make a slurry and then add to the tomatoes. Stir until the liquid thickens, then add the eggs back into the pan. Cook until well combined and serve immediately over rice.
Have you ever heard of cherry pit ice cream? Apparently within the pits of all stone fruits (cherries, peaches, nectarines, etc.) is a white kernel that smells like an almond. If you steep the kernels in alcohol, you can make a bitter almond extract, and if you steep them in an ice cream base, you can make a delicious ice cream with a subtle almond taste.
Getting to the kernel requires smashing the pits open, which can get kind of messy. Additionally, a toxic chemical, amygdalin, may be released when doing so, but apparently it can be neutralized by cooking. So it's up to you if you want to break the pits open to get to the kernel or not, but I did so because 1. it's fun to smash things, and 2. I wanted to extract as much of the bitter almond flavor as possible.
I used the blank slate Philadelphia-style ice cream recipe from Hello, My Name Is Ice Cream, as the base for the ice cream and added a cherry ripple for fruitiness and brown butter streusel for crunch. Both the ripple and streusel are also adapted from recipes in Hello, My Name is Ice Cream. I really love the combination of all 3 parts, especially the streusel, because I really enjoy the extra texture it provides.
Cherry Pit Ice Cream with Cherry Ripple and Brown Butter Streusel makes about 1 quart
For the cherry ripple:
1 lb. sour cherries*
50 g sugar
50 g corn syrup
Remove the stems and pit the cherries, reserving the pits. Combine the cherries, sugar, and corn syrup in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved.
Transfer to a blender and blend until smooth. Return the contents to the saucepan and continue to cook until thick and jammy. Remove from the heat and strain through a fine-mesh sieve. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
*Note, I made this with sour cherries, but if you want to use sweet cherries, you'll probably want to reduce the amount of sugar and corn syrup.
For the brown butter streusel:
37 g unsalted butter
50 g flour
Scant 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
25 g brown sugar
25 g sugar
Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a Silpat.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until the milk solids have separated and started to brown. Immediately remove from the heat and set aside to cool down.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugars. Add the browned butter and mix until there are no dry bits. Transfer the streusel to the sheet pan and break up any large lumps.
Bake for 10 minutes, then stir the streusel to redistribute on the pan. Bake for another 10-15 minutes until the streusel is golden brown and cooked through. Cool the streusel on a wire rack and then store in the freezer until ready to use.
For the cherry pit ice cream:
Pits from the pound of sour cherries
380 g cream
400 g milk (plus 2 tablespoons of milk if using cornstarch)
50 g corn syrup
20 g milk powder
150 g sugar
10 g cornstarch or 3 g commercial stabilizer
Place the cherry pits in a sturdy freezer bag and cover with a dish towel. Use a heavy saucepan or mallet to crack the pits open to expose the white kernels within. I would suggest doing this on the ground with a cutting board underneath because there's a good chance you'll make some holes in the bag.
Place the cracked pits and kernels in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan and add the cream, milk, and corn syrup. Cook over medium heat until the mixture reaches a boil, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. In the meantime, prepare a large ice water bath. When the mixture is boiling, transfer to a metal bowl and place in the ice water bath. Stirring occasionally, bring the mixture down to room temperature and then chill in the fridge for 4-6 hours.
Mix the milk powder, sugar, and commercial stabilizer, if using, in a small bowl. If using the cornstarch, mix with 2 tablespoons of cold milk. Prepare another ice water bath.
After the ice cream base has finished steeping, strain through a fine-mesh sieve into the saucepan and whisk in the milk powder mixture. Bring to a boil again, stirring to prevent scorching. Continue to cook for 2 minutes, then add the cornstarch slurry, if using, and continue to cook for another minute until slightly thickened.
Pour the ice cream base into a metal bowl and place in the ice water bath. Stirring occasionally, bring the mixture down to room temperature and then chill in the fridge for 4 hour or overnight. Place a storage container in the freezer.
Churn the ice cream base in your ice cream machine until thick and creamy.
Spoon a layer of the cherry ripple on the bottom of the storage container. Scatter some of the streusel over the ripple, then spread a third of the ice cream into the container. Drizzle a third of the ripple over the ice cream and sprinkle a third of the streusel over that. Repeat the layers two more times (you may have cherry ripple than you need; if so, save in the fridge for up to 2 weeks). Press a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the ice cream, cover with the lid, and freeze for at least 4 hours, until completely firm.
I've been making sourdough bread once a week now for the last couple of months, and I've been lamenting all the sourdough discard I've had to throw away (plus, it stinks up my trash can!). My friend Alison who originally gave me the sourdough starter also mentioned that I could find some recipes online that used sourdough discard. That gave me the idea to try to use it for pizza dough.
Since I've been using the Tartine Bread country loaf recipe, the starter I use is 100% hydration with a 50/50 mix of all-purpose and whole wheat flour. I basically just applied that math to the pizza dough I've been making the last few years and found that it works pretty well and even adds a little more flavor.
After making the same recipe for so many years, it's naturally migrated towards what works for me in my kitchen. To account for the addition of the sourdough discard, I reduced the amount of yeast I add to just a pinch. If you have enough time and want even more flavor, you could probably omit the additional yeast altogether. I add it for insurance, just in case the discard isn't active enough. Update: My sourdough starter is now active enough I don't add the extra yeast!
Sourdough Discard Pizza Dough makes two 8 oz. balls of pizza dough (enough for two 10" pizzas)
50 grams sourdough discard (100% hydration)
150 grams warm water (about 90-95°F)
225 grams all-purpose flour
5 grams kosher salt
A pinch of yeast (optional, use if your starter discard isn't very active)
Mix the sourdough discard and warm water together in a medium mixing bowl. Add the flour and mix until there are no dried bits left. Cover and let sit 20-30 minutes.
Sprinkle the salt and yeast over the dough. Wet one of your hands thoroughly with warm water and use it to knead the salt into the dough until you can't feel it anymore. Refer to my original pizza dough post for the fold and pinch method. You should rewet your hands a few times during this process to keep the dough from sticking to you and to help the salt dissolve. Cover and let rest.
After 30-60 minutes, apply a fold to help develop the gluten. During the last fold I dribble some olive oil into the bottom of the bowl and then flip the dough over so the seam is on the bottom and the top (which used to be on the bottom) is coated with oil. Cover and let rest until the dough has doubled in volume, around 6 hours depending on the temperature of your kitchen and how active the sourdough discard is.
Prepare 2 sandwich bags by folding the tops over and adding a little olive oil to each. Flour your work surface and transfer the dough onto it. Flour a knife or scraper and divide the dough in half. Shape each half into a ball. Transfer to the bags, seal, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours and up to 2 days. You can also freeze the dough until ready to use; just thaw it in the fridge overnight the day before you want pizza.