It’s the eighth month of the lunar calendar. That means the Mid Autumn Festival is coming soon! Tis the season where mooncakes are in abundance! YUM! I love mooncakes!
I’ve never attended cooking classes at the community centre before. But I’ve always heard so much about them. A few days ago, out of curiosity, The Girlfriend and I walked into Taman Jurong Community Centre to see what courses they had to offer. When we saw that they had mooncake classes, we signed up immediately without any hesitation.
What’s interesting about this workshop was the fact that they were teaching how to make Teochew-style mooncakes. The Teochew style is unique because unlike the common ones that’s baked, the Teochew one is fried and has a very crispy, flaky crust, and is filled with yam instead of your usual lotus paste.
So yesterday, both The Girlfriend and I attended our very first cooking class. And boy were we in for lots of fun!
Our trainer for the day was Elizabeth Ow. She conducts quite a fair number of cooking classes for the community centres. Anyway, what we loved about her was the fact that she made it a point to teach us transferable skills. It turns out that the method for making the flaky crust of the Teochew-style mooncakes can be modified and used to make puff pastries. So cool!
By far the coolest thing about the class was learning how to make the spirals in the crust that’s so typical of the Teochew-style mooncakes. For the longest time, I’ve always wondered how they made the spirals, and how they made pastries so flaky and crispy.
As it turns out, it’s pretty easy! But I don’t know how to explain it online, so I’m not going to try (I tried writing a paragraph, but it wouldn’t make sense to someone who didn’t do it before). The secret is that you need to make two types of dough. The outer dough uses plain flour, while the inner dough uses cake flour. And then you roll them together like a swiss roll (you’ll need to flatten and re-roll) until the inner and outer dough gets thoroughly mixed up.
Once that’s done, you flatten the dough and add the yam paste.
The yam paste, as it turns out, is very very easy to make. Cut your yam into cubes and steam it. Then, fry it with oil, shallots, and starch. Then you proceed to mash them and form balls so that it’s easy to insert them into the dough.
And once you’re done, this is how the pre-cooked mooncakes look:
As you can see, the spirals are already showing!
Next, you put the mooncakes into a deep fryer.
The most useful cooking lesson we learnt was that when dealing with hot oil, it doesn’t matter if you’re using a high, medium or low fire. But once you start with a particular heat intensity, do not change the heat intensity at all. If you do, the change in heat will result in more oil seeping in, thus causing your food to be more oily than it should be.
Ready to see the final product?
Here it is!
The photo above is the product of my second attempt. My first attempt was quite sad. I used too much force to flatten my dough to the point that there weren’t any more spirals left.
The trainer gave me some feedback on what went wrong. Immediately, I grabbed more dough and started again. And voila, success!
All in all, The Girlfriend and I made quite a number of delicious mooncakes at the end of the workshop. MMMmmm… YUMMY!
I’m looking forward to signing up for the next class. The trainer has promised to teach us how to make a very unique type of char siew buns (roasted pork), and if possible, how to make egg tarts. Oh boy! So exciting!
I never knew cooking classes at the community centre could be so fun. Makes for a fun couple activity too! We had a lot of fun making mooncakes together while joking around. It was a good time well spent.
Oh, did I mention that the mooncakes we made were delicious? MMMMmmm…