As the Chinese mid-autumn festival approaches, there is no better way to celebrate it than with traditional bean-paste mooncakes
Chef Manoj Painuly is the Pastry Chef at JW Marriott Mumbai Juhu. A seasoned pastry chef, he has over 12 years of experience pushing the boundaries of the sweet course. At JW Marriott Mumbai Juhu, he is responsible for all aspects of the pastry department, from curating and innovating dessert menus to creating artisanal cakes, bakery menus, special events and the famed dessert spread at the Lotus Cafe.
Over his career, he has worked with acclaimed hotel brands across cities in India and the Middle East. In 2015, he won a gold medal at the chefs competition in Qatar for a desserts presentation. Earlier, he was awarded a bronze medal in the young chef competition for cake presentation in Mumbai in 2005.
When asked what it is to be a pastry chef, he says, “From the outside looking in, being a pastry chef seems like a pretty sweet job. But it’s not all fondant, crepes, and crème brulée—this is quite a challenging and demanding role. The pastry kitchen is a place that tests every milligram of your essence and this role is a perfectly balanced recipe of passion and skill.”
A variety of mooncakes are on offer at the Dashanzi mid-autumn food festival
JW Marriott Mumbai Juhu is currently hosting a mid-autumn food festival (till September 21) at Dashanzi, its progressive modern Asian cuisine restaurant. As part of the festivities, patrons can indulge in an all-new bespoke menu inspired by Chef Rohit Chadha’s travels to Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and Singapore and his many years of experience curating Asian delicacies. Some highlights of the festival are char siu tofu, snails by the sea, hamachi carpaccio, ginger sea bass, Huaiyang Chinese pastry and, of course, traditional mooncakes and green tea. Mooncakes with flavours like red bean, matcha & coconut, mixed seeds and mud chocolate are available on a ‘made-to-order’ basis and come in an elegant, sustainable wooden casket.
Traditional red bean mooncake
Steeped in symbolism, mooncakes signify gratitude and togetherness, and are traditionally gifted as a token of prosperity during the mid-autumn festival. The round mooncake is a dense pastry with flavoursome fillings, elaborately decorated often with patterns depicting the legends of the festival. Chef Painuly’s thoughtfully handcrafted authentic Chinese mooncake consists of a red-bean paste made from adzuki beans and has a mild, sweet flavour, making it traditional yet indulgent.
- 60g golden syrup
- 1/4 tsp lye water (kansui)
- 24g vegetable oil
- 100g cake flour
- 10 salted egg yolks
- 220g store-bought lotus paste (see note )
- egg wash to brush the mooncake
You will also need a mooncake mould
For the dough:
- Mix golden syrup, lye water, and vegetable oil accurately in a mixing bowl.
- Sieve the flour and add all at once to the above mixture.
- Combine all the ingredients.
- Place the dough on a piece of cling wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes to let the dough relax.
For the filling:
- Wash the salted egg yolk with water to remove the white sticking to the yolk. Pat dry.
- Wrap the yolk with the lotus paste.
- Then roll it into a ball. Set aside.
- Roll out the pastry in between two plastic sheets or cling wraps.
- Remove the cling film on top, and fold the pastry towards the filling.
- Pinch away the excess pastry where the pastry is double folded to ensure consistent thickness.
- Roll the mooncake with your palms to form a ball.
- Roll the mooncake on a surface dusted with flour.
- Plunge the piston of the mooncake mould to the flour, and shake off the excess.
- Place the dough on the baking tray.
- Put the mooncake mould on the dough and plunge the piston downward. The dough will take the shape of the mould, and the pattern will be imprinted on the surface.
- Bake it at the middle rack of a 175°C/350°F oven for five minutes or until the surface starts to firm up.
- Remove the mooncake from the oven and brush the surface with egg wash.
- Bake for another 10 minutes or until golden brown.
- Remove the cake from the oven to cool at room temperature.
- Transfer the mooncake to an airtight container and keep for three days before serving.
The actual amount of lotus paste depends on the weight of the salted egg yolk. The total weight of the filling (yolk + lotus paste) is 35g for each mooncake.