With its egg-custard treats, the Peninsula leads the parade into mid-autumn
THE CHINESE Mid-Autumn Festival – centring on October 4 this year when the moon is fullest |and roundest – brings out the |mooncakes, also at their fullest and roundest.
Bangkok hotels will soon be offering every type of mooncake imaginable, most packed in fancy boxes ready to share as gifts among family and friends.
One of the most popular varieties is a hand-made cake of egg custard in a shell of soft pastry for which the Peninsula Hong Kong is duly famous. Its sister Peninsula Bangkok makes its own batch each year, using the original recipe.
They’re typically small in size, weighing just 40 grams, far less than the “standard” 160 grams.
The man behind the great success of these particular treats is Hong Kong chef Yip Wing Wah, who carries the official title of Peninsula Hotel dim-sum ambassador.
Yip has been at the Peninsula Hong Kong restaurant Spring Moon from the beginning in 1986, and that was the year he created the egg-custard mooncake. It was an instant smash, as he explained on a recent visit to Mei Jiang at the Peninsula Bangkok.
Chef Yip Wing Wah of the Peninsula Hong Kong is the creator of the always-popular egg custard mooncake.
“The traditional mooncake filling is lotus-seed paste, but I wanted to make something different,” the 65-year-old kitchen wizard said.
“One of the most popular dim sum dishes at Spring Moon is an egg-custard bun, and that’s what inspired me to try making an egg-custard filling for mooncakes. My creation was originally offered only to VIP guests, but word spread and they became a hit with everyone.”
The Peninsula Bangkok made its first batch of Yip’s mooncake speciality in 2000 and has since sold something on the order of three million of them. A half million were gobbled up last year alone.
Yip was adamant that as much of the preparation as possible must be done by hand and that no preservatives are used.
And then he showed how it’s done.
First, Yip readied the dough, mixing pastry flour, butter, cornstarch and custard powder with eggs to a smooth consistency. Then he slowly added milk, sugar and rum – that’s right, rum – and kneaded the dough some more.
The dough has to be left alone for several hours before it’s divided into a bunch of 19-gram balls, no more and no less.
The custard filling is made with butter, eggs, coconut milk, condensed milk, cornstarch, wheat flour and salted egg yolks.
This is slowly steamed until cooked through, placed in a freezer for a while and then brought out to warm again to room temperature. Stirred once more until smooth, the filling is divided into 21-gram balls, no more and no less.
Yip flattened out his dough balls into circles to form the skin and popped a wad of filling on each. They get all wrapped up and then rolled into more balls.
These balls go into a carved wooden mould and are tapped to cram them into place. The mould gives the cakes their fancy exterior pattern. Knocked out of the mould, the cakes go on a baking tray and into the oven for about six minutes.
From August 10 to October 4 you can get an octagonal gift box containing eight egg-custard mooncakes for Bt890 at the hotel and at a pop-up store at Siam Paragon. From September 22 to October 4 they’ll also be sold at the EmQuartier.
Or you can buy them at www.Peninsula.com/bangkok.
Find out more at (02) 020 2888 or email@example.com.
NO ONE OWNS THE MOON
It’s not like the Peninsula has a monopoly on mooncakes in Bangkok.
The Lounge at the St Regis will be selling great mooncakes starting on August 21, but you can pre-order some now. Sold in either an Imperial Red or Turquoise Blue decorative box, the cakes (Bt1,688 for four) have fillings of durian (monthong), chestnut and macadamia, red bean with lotus seed, and mixed fruit with nuts. Call (02) 207 7777.
From August 5 to October 4 the Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel will have mooncakes in leather gift boxes (Bt1,600 for four) as well as separately (Bt180). The flavours are durian and single yolk, custard, jujube and single yolk, and lotus seed and single yolk. Call (02) 126 8866.
The Dusit Thani Bangkok’s mooncakes will be available from August 10 to October 4 – durian, original custard, lotus seed, mixed nuts, bird’s nest with lotus seed, and honey date palm. Pay Bt188 apiece and ask for a gift box. Call (02) 200 9000, extension 2345.
The Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok has durian with egg, custard, pandan and coconut shreds, eight seeds, and chocolate cocoa nibs in a box of four (Bt599) and individually (Bt189). Call (02) 254 6250.