Every year, a pastry tidal wave of moon cakes rolls in. They arrive in stamped tin boxes, elaborately wrapped bakery trays, simple cellophane wrappers. They are huge (six inches across, three inches high, with a chiseled golden pastry crust), modest (flaky pastry crust, bite-sized puck), or just plain exotic (squishy, or depicting exposed buttocks).
It’s like a warm up for New Year’s celebrations: gather the family, eat until bursting, and pass around questionable desserts. We’ve had thousands of years to work this out.
This year, I have decided to try making my own moon cakes. Mom gave me two beautiful wooden molds a few years ago, but the project stalled due to a lack of time and has languishing in mothball land ever since.
Earlier this year I attempted zhong zi, with encouraging results. And if I can survive Chinese tamales, then surely I can manage finicky baked goods? Right. Here goes.