Mooncakes are a central dish to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival in China. In a previous publication took a deep dive into historical records and legends about mooncakes. In this post, we’re looking into all the interesting types of cakes that exist!
Note: soon we will post recipes so that you can make mooncakes yourself! Make sure to subscribe to our blog to receive updates!
There’s not just one type of mooncake. Instead, mooncakes have evolved over time, integrating with the dietary customs of different regions in China. As aresult, new styles, flavors, and looks have continuously evolved.
Let’s take a look at the characteristics and flavours of the most popular moon cakes below.
Cantonese Style Moon Cakes
Cantonese style mooncakes are characterized by thin skin and thick filling, with mainly lotus seed paste, coconut paste, salted egg yolk, dried fruits and various meat as fillings. They are sweet and salty to a moderate degree. The crusts of the Cantonese style moon cakes are usually very shiny, and the taste of the cake is soft and smooth.
The name of each kind of cake is usually based on the main ingredients of the cake filling, such as five kernels, golden ham, lotus paste, bean paste, jujube paste, coconut paste and so on. The range of Cantonese moon cake fillings are wide, such as salted egg yolk, preserved egg, sausages, char siu, shredded chicken, roasted duck, mushrooms, etc..
Beijing Style Moon Cakes
A regular Beijing style moon cake is moderately sweet, crust to filling ratio is about 2:3, with sesame oil heavily used. They are popular in northern China.
The most distinctive feature of Beijing style moon cakes is the imperial court style, the production process is complex and exquisite. For example, if the moon cake used jujube as the filling, it has to be the Miyun jujubes harvested at the finest month, preferably with small pits and juicy pulp. The jujubes with the same specifications can be screened out and then used in such processes as pit-removing, peeling, refining, grading and final sorting.
Suzhou Style Moon Cakes
Suzhou style moon cakes originated in Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces and surrounding areas. Su Shi, a poet from the Song Dynasty, said in his poem, “Small cakes are like chewable moons, in which there is crispiness and happiness.” The characteristics of the Suzhou style moon cake is “crisp”, its filling is pressed tightly, but with gently cracking with the teeth, the crust can be scattered easily.
The fillings are usually are five kernels, bean paste, etc., and are sweeter than other kinds of moon cakes.
Yunnan Style Moon Cakes
Yunnan style moon cakes, also known as Yunnan ham moon cakes, are made of a Yunnan specialty Xuanwei ham, plus honey, lard and sugar mixture as filling.
With Kunming purple wheat flour for the crust, their surface is golden or brownish red. This kind of mooncakes combine the savory aroma of ham, and the sweet honey taste, overall very satisfying.
Chaozhou (Teochew) Style Moon Cakes
Heavy on oil and sugar, gentle taste, that’s the characteristics of Chaozhou (or ‘Teochew’) moon cakes. The cake is flat and the crust is often light in color.
The main flavours of Chaozhou moon cakes are green bean paste and black bean paste. Lard is the main character of the traditional Chazhou style moon cakes. What is also very distinctive is the use of red stamps to indicate the filling and decorate the cake.
Traditional cakes are pan-fried, but there’s also a ‘Thousand Layer’ cake which is deep-fried.
Hong Kong Ice Skin Moon Cakes
There’s a special category of mooncakes that don’t need to be baked or fried. They’re known as ice skin or snow skin mooncakes, referring to the translucent milky white skin.
These mooncakes use glutinous rice as the main ingredient for the outer layer. They need to be stored cold or sometimes even need to be frozen depending on the filling.
There are also crusts mixed with other ingredients that vary in color and taste. For example, green ice skin with matcha powder added, and purple ice skin with taro paste added, the appearance is very delicate.
Other Mooncake Types
Taiwanese Style Moon Cakes
Traditional Taiwanese moon cakes, also known as moonlight cake, with sweet potato as the filling, taste sweet but not so greasy, fluffy and delicious.
Halal Moon Cakes
They don’t contain any pork and are best known for their halal beef moon cakes.
Tea Moon Cakes
Tea moon cakes are cakes made with tea liquor mixed into the fillings. For example, oolong tea liquor mixed with lotus seed paste baked together, which tastes new and fresh.