About three weeks ago, I actually spent a couple of days at my Aunt's learning how to make mooncakes (月餅). My Aunt (二姨媽) has been baking and selling her traditional baked Cantonese mooncakes, snow skin mooncakes (冰皮月餅) and pineapple tarts (黃梨餅) for over 10 years. I was planning on trying to make my first mooncakes this year. But too bad, it can never happen due to bad timing. I just started my first real job and am working on my driver's license. Exhausted! Hopefully, I can make some next year ... Nonetheless, it was sure fun learning from and visiting with her. It was my first time seeing her since I got back from the U.S. Thanks for taking the time to teach me Aunt! Anyway, here're some of her wonderful creations:
Pineapple tarts (or Nastars) 黃梨餅
Cantonese-Style Mooncakes with Five Nuts Filling 五仁月餅
Shanghainese Mooncakes with Homemade Sweetened Lotus Seeds Paste and Melon Seeds Filling上海月餅
Cantonese-style mooncakes with homemade sweetened lotus seeds paste and melon seeds filling 純蓮蓉月餅
Anyhow, let's fast forward. I actually don't plan to make any cake for my birthday this year because I've got no time for that. Furthermore, my family isn't really big on celebrating birthdays; a birthday is just like any day for us. We're happy enough as long as we're one small happy family together!
Of course, disagreement is inevitable. In fact, I believe that it's only with disagreement that we can get to know each other better. The old Chinese saying "不打不相識!" aptly describes this situation. It literally means people won't get to know each other without any fights. When I was still in the States, I often missed those moments in which I verbally, and sometimes physically, fought with my brothers LOL! (Can you believe I'm a girl hahaha ...! =P)
Mom, thank you for giving birth to me 22 years ago with going through all the pain physically and emotionally. In Buddhism, the birthday of a person is called 母難日, which refers to the Day in which a mother has to go through all the physical pain and emotional struggle to give birth to her newborn child (or children if it was for twins, triplets, quadruplets, and so forth.) This is the Day for you to remember and appreciate what she did for you on the day you came to this world. Once again, thanks Mom! I love you!
My new colleagues at work actually invited me out for a karaoke session ... or, what we Chinese refer to as "to sing K" (唱K). There, we sang our heart out to our favorite songs for more than three hours! I couldn't believe they even celebrated birthdays for me and another colleague, who will also be celebrating hers the day after mine. Thanks guys! It was sure a surprise and treat for me!
As to what I've been doing on my own to "normalize" my birthday, all I want is to cook, bake, play with food photography, blogging and Flickr-ing. And, I'm a happy girl! Though I didn't make any birthday cake, I've tried a new cookie recipe and made some steamed sweet potato baos (i.e. Chinese buns) this evening. I'm thinking of making some new dishes and bread tomorrow for my lunch box for the next few days. Hahaha ...! Let's just hope I have the time and stamina to keep up with this baking and cooking journal of mine. (I've too many backlogs to clear ... =.=")
Though I made this LONG, LONG time ago while I was still in the U.S., I'd like to take this as my birthday cake! Funny eh? Actually, it was made for a potluck. This was a really refreshing cake. Made with fresh hand-picked raspberries from my family friends' farm. It also had homemade raspberry jam (also from my lovely family friends) sandwiched between three layers of raspberry chiffon.
For the final touch, I covered the whole cake with slightly sweetened whipped cream (NOT Cool Whip!) and gave it a fun swirl on top of the cake with raspberry jam AGAIN. The result was a REALLY RASPBERRY cake ... Sweet and with some tang, light and yet moist! Very, very refreshing! What delighted me the most was there were only two slivers of the cake left at the end of the potluck! Hehe ... ^^
October 03, 2009 is indeed a meaningful day for me. Coincidentally, this year's Mid-Autumn Festival fell on my birthday. Haha! I'm killing two birds with one stone! So, here's to wish all of you out there who celebrate this once-a-year occasion a Happy Mid-Autumn Festival! 祝大家中秋節快樂！Without further ado, here's the recipe for the cake.
Raspberry Chiffon Cake (Adapted from Peng's)
For one 8-inch tube pan
6 egg yolks, at room temperature
1/2 tsp lemon extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp rum or brandy essence
OR 1 Tbsp raspberry paste, if available, instead of using the above-mentioned flavorings
200g fresh raspberries, puréed
120g cake flour, sifted twice
6 egg whites, at room temperature
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
enough raspberry jam
250ml cold heavy cream
1 Tbsp powdered sugar
- Mix (A) together till sugar dissolved fully--the mixture should look rather pale and thick, then mix in (B) and (C) till combined; sift in cake flour and fold till just combined, then set aside
- Whip (D) together till foamy, then gradually beat in 70g sugar as you whip; whip the mixture till stiff peaks stage
Fold 1/3 of the meringue gently into the raspberry mixture to "loosen up" the batter, then fold the remaining meringue in two batches gently into the raspberry batter till just blended--DON'T OVERFOLD it; otherwise, the air will be deflated
- Pour the batter into a clean, ungreased 8-inch tube pan--make sure the surface of the batter is even; briefly tap the pan over the bench to get rid of large air pockets
- Bake at 180C for 40 minutes till the cake test is done--the top of the cake should be golden brown and not sticky
Immediately remove the pan of cake from the oven and invert it to let it cool completely. Unmold it once it's completely cooled
In the meantime, whip (E) up till it holds stiff peaks; refrigerate to keep it chilled for use later
- To assemble: Slice the cake horizontally to make three layers out of it; spread some raspberry jam evenly over one layers of the cake, then top it with another layer of the cake. Repeat the same with this second layer; stop this particular process once you've gotten to the third, i.e. top most layer
Completely "frost" the "filled" cake with the whipped cream, then swirl the top of the whipped cream-covered cake with some raspberry jam if desired; then, send the cake to chill for six hours to one night (I made mine the night before.)
- Slice and serve the cake chilled