Moon Cake, Not Just for Mid Autumn Festival


What is Chinese moon cake and moon festival?

Among Chinese desserts, mooncakes have a very special place. It's not a delicacy you can have every day, but every year. It's a reminder of a yearly reunion, celebration and greetings. It's for the Mid Autumn Festival.

Both mooncake and the festival have legends go with them. Here is the legend of the mooncake . And here is the legend of the Autumn festival.

The Mid Autumn Festival is one of the important Chinese holidays. When I wrote this page, it was right around the corner, on August 15, 2010 in Chinese Lunar Year, September 22th, 2010 in Gregory calender year (the calender we normally use).

This is the day the moon will be fullest and roundest, which can be predicted by lunar calender only. If you use Gregory calender, the date is always different from year to year, ranging from mid-September to early October.

moon cakeThe relationship between mooncakes and the Autumn festival is kind of like the turkey to Thanksgiving or birthday cake to a birthday. Without it, the special day seems to lack the essence.

Mooncake plays a very important role in the Mid Autumn Festival, and so does the moon. Because of the this, the festival is also called the Mooncake festival, Moon Cake Festival, or moon festival.

Like any festival, Chinese moon festival is also for a special celebration. It's the time to make merry for the harvest, and it's also a time for family reunions, sharing food, laughter and time together. What's the dominant way to celebrate? Having moon cakes under the beautiful, round moon in the yard.

Quiz for fun: If 30 Yuan (Chinese money) can buy one high quality mooncake, how many mookcakes $50 can buy? Find answer here.

More mooncake topics on this page:moon cake


Does a moon cake have symbolic meaning ?

Yes, it does. It's the symbolic meaning that makes it very special. If you have tried it before, have you noticed that there is almost always one or two salt duck eggs in a traditional moon cake? Have you ever thought about why?

And have you notice anything in common between the moon at the Autumn festival day and the yolk?

Exactly. The roundness.

Roundness in China is a very blessed character. It means all sorts of good things, like completeness, perfection, satisfaction, that everything is all right, consummation, reunion and harmony...

Mooncake means "roundness" for your life.

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What are the types of mooncakes?

five kernels moon cakeThough moon cakes have been enjoyed centuries, their styles are still developing, vary with the regions and preference.

We can roughly put them into two big categories: traditional and modern variations.

In tradition, there are four common styles according to the fillings.

  1. Lotus seed paste (My personal favorite, picture shown above.)
  2. Sweet bean paste Made from azuki bean(red bean), black bean or Mung bean. Azuki bean is the most commonly used bean in this style.
  3. Jujube or date paste
  4. Five kernels (As shown in the picture on the left) The kinds of seeds and nuts used normally are pumpkin seeds, walnuts, peanuts, watermelon seeds, sesame, or almonds. These kernels are chopped coarsely and held together by maltose syrup.

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Is mooncake difficult to make?moon cake recipe

Yes and no.

Yes if you want to make the authentic AND traditional ones. They are very labor intense (up to 4 weeks) with steps and procedures that most busy people find time-consuming. If you prefer to buy the delicacy that are commercially available, you're really not alone. The majority of people do just that: step in a Chinese store when the festival time is getting close, grabbing one box with eye-catching design home and enjoying it when family and friends are together.

No, if you want to use your creativity to recreate the moon cake and your mood. You can make the mooncakes tailored to your personal preference by spending some time looking for the right recipe, or just inventing one to test. There are more types of modern mooncakes now, and their making is not as time-consuming or labor intense as the traditional ones. And they are cheaper, too, also healthier if you're careful of what you want to put in.

Here is a sample Chinese moon cake recipe that you can use. It's fun to do, and you can control the calories you put in it.

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Is mooncake healthy?

moon cake healthy?Moon cake is a delicacy that contains healthy ingredients such as lotus seeds, beans and other nuts. It's also rich in ingredients that might not be good for people with serious health concerns, such as sugar and fat. They can be very high in calories, too.

It is advisable to enjoy mooncake as a rare, delicious, symbolic delicacy as it is. Just don't treat it as a meal no matter how much you enjoy having it.

I limit myself to have it no more than two at one time since no doctor has said anything to me yet. I won't miss this once a year opportunity to indulge myself just a little bit. After all, food is a gift by life, for life. (My motto!) No restriction for my kids. They won't have it every month.

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Is mooncake expensive?moon cake price

Mooncake prices vary; it depends on the ingredients and type. $5 per cake is very common, and so are the four cake per box packages.

Normally each cake is wrapped individually, accompanied by a tiny food preserver packet. If you buy boxed cake, you'll find four or more cute little moon cake forks. They are adorable and make you want to use them right away. At least my daughters do sometimes.

There are also lower-price cakes and high-end cakes. To give mooncakes to family and friends is very popular during the Mid Autumn festival time among Chinese people.

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Is there any legend that goes with moon cake and the Mid Autumn Festival?

moon ladyYes. I myself tell and retell my daughters the legends and meanings of moon cake every time when the Autumn festival is drawing near.

To enjoy mooncake and the Chinese cultural heritage with my American-born kids is always special and fun. Sometimes we walk in the open area where the bright moon can be best observed, talking, joking, sharing what's in our hearts...the breeze in the autumn night becoming richer than usual, melting into the memories and subconsciousness.

I'm glad to see that my kids are growing up, happy with the identity of being Chinese-American.

Here is the legends and stories that accompany mooncake and the Mid Autumn Festival.

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How do you eat moon cakes?mooncake

Normally, mooncake is cut into small, even sized pieces. Four or eight pieces per cake are common. Teas are usually served with them.

Flowering tea is a very good idea if you want something beautiful and romantic; Green tea and Wu long tea are very good companions to go with the rich-flavored moon cakes. When family and friends chat over the drink, the tea can also help your body resolve the fat in the cake better.

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middle autumn festivalDoes any other literature go with moon cake?

Yes and in a broader sense.

Moon cake is connected to the Mid Autumn Festival and is the major content of it. There are many poems made for the special occasion, and numerous mentions and plots in other literature and art forms.

If you are interested about going deeper into it; here is the link.

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Enjoy Chinese mooncake when you can. Take it as a way to celebrate your life. It's one of the most special Chinese desserts and it's not just for the Mid Autumn Festival.

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