Photography by Joe Schmelzer / Food Styling by Rebecca Firth

We are obsessed with vintage, wooden mooncake molds, and your collection is gorgeous. Can you bake with these vintage molds? Or are they just for display?
RF: I have used one of my vintage molds. I got my antique molds when I was living in China. They will work—you’ll just need to adjust slightly.

What additional steps or factors should you consider when baking with vintage, wooden mooncake molds?
RF: For presentation, it’s important to keep in mind that the imprint won’t be as deep. I found that when you use the traditional ones, I couldn’t get that deep imprint that the plastic ones give you. Also, when you use the vintage, wooden molds, you’ll have more of a problem with sticking. Even with the plastic mooncake mold, you need to make sure that the molds are well floured. Before pressing or putting the ball of the dough in the mold, you should make sure that it has a light dusting of flour around it. These little things will help keep your dough from sticking in the wooden molds.

Would you need to adjust the recipe if using the vintage molds?
RF: I think a good rule of thumb is a one-to-one ratio for the filling and the pastry dough. If you’re going to use a larger or a smaller mold, then you’ll need to scale a little bit up or down according to the mold’s diameter.

Why do you recommend doing a second egg wash for the mooncakes? How does it change the texture and appearance?
RF: Mooncakes have this really deep golden color to them, and that’s what the second wash is trying to help achieve. It almost makes me think of how Chinese furniture is so lacquered. They love lacquer over there. Doing the extra egg wash gives the mooncakes that rich, golden, shiny outer layer. So, the second wash almost lacquers the mooncakes.

You recommend letting the mooncakes sit out for two to three days before serving—why is that?
RF: Traditionally, mooncakes are made with lard. The two to three days of rest gives that oil time to seep into the filling, and [it gives] the moisture time to seep and disperse throughout the outer layer. This helps soften the outer dough. The rest time also helps give the outside of the mooncakes that shiny, glossy appearance. The texture improves, softening up through the three-day wait.

Any penalty to eating mooncakes warm out of oven?
RF: No! When I first take them out, I always will eat one because I want to know what’s happening and how it tastes. And you always want to eat something as soon as it gets out of the oven!

Photography by Joe Schmelzer / Food Styling by Rebecca Firth

Are there any pro tips you could recommend to first-time mooncake makers?
RF: You want to make sure your pastry skin is rolled out thin and that there aren’t clumps of it. As you’re wrapping the pastry skin around the filling, be sure to pull off any excess dough. Make the dough look as uniform as possible all the way around the filling.

Any foolproof tips to ensure that the mold design makes a vivid imprint in the dough?
RF: Definitely don’t skip the freezer time. It’s crucial for keeping the design. When doing the egg wash, it’s also important to not let your wash pool between the ridges of the design. When you’re brushing a mooncake, brush the egg wash on lightly, but make sure all of the mooncake gets covered in the wash. If the wash has pooled anywhere, either use a paper towel or another pastry brush to remove the pooling.

Is there any room to play with the filling flavor?
RF: First, be confident with the recipe before you begin tampering with it. You have to know the flavor balance before you can adjust. I wanted to keep this recipe relatively simple, but one thing I’ve been dying to throw in is coconut. It could make it like an Almond Joy! I think some coconut would be amazing in there.


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