Tsukimi (月見) or Otsukimi (お月見), meaning, “moon-viewing”, also known as Jugoya (十五夜), is a Japanese festival honoring the autumn moon and the seasonal harvest. People often accompany moon viewing with tea ceremonies and eat seasonal produce, like chestnuts, kabocha, taro potato and edamame. Often Tsukimi Dango is eaten to represent the full moon, which you can read about on some of my previous blog posts for this time.
Another traditional sweet to represent the full moon are moon cakes. In China this festival is called “The Mid-Autumn Festival” and these cakes are offered at family gatherings at this time. Even though moon cakes are popular in China they are also eaten in Japan and are known as geppei 月餅 and are slightly different to their Chinese counterparts. The main difference between Japanese and Chinese moon cakes is the crust. Chinese moon cakes have a thin, flaky crust made from glutinous rice flour, while Japanese moon cakes have a thicker crust made from regular wheat flour. Also the fillings are different instead of sweet lotus seed paste, Japanese moon cakes are often filled with azuki bean paste and nuts such as chestnuts.
These delicious pastries are perfect for celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival and can be enjoyed with a green tea to balance out the sweetness. They also make pretty seasonal gifts for family and friends.
Mooncakes how ever are not normally vegan but now you can try my simple vegan recipe for yourself that I have been making every year. All you will need to do is order yourself a moon cake press from somewhere like Amazon or EBay.
Once you have your press gather together the rest of your ingredients.
200g of plain white flour
120g of brown rice syrup (over the years I have also used maple syrup and even date syrup)
x4 teaspoons of odourless oil like coconut butter
2-3 tablespoon of soy milk
Potato starch for dusting
Extra soy milk to glaze and maple syrup to glaze after cooking.
Red bean tsubuan paste.
Whole roasted chestnuts (I used the precooked ones you get in a packet)
Chopped mixed nuts and fruit (a variety like cashew, almonds, pistachios, walnuts, raisins, cranberries.)
A few drops of toasted sesame oil.
You will also need some weighing scales and a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Put your flour into a bowl.
In a separate bowl add your oil and syrup and mix.
Add the syrup and oil mixture to your flour and combine then add a tablespoon at a time of your soy milk until you form a dough.
Wrap your dough in film and place in the freezer to firm while you chop your nuts and fruit.
To make two kinds of moon cakes one with sweet bean paste and chopped fruit and nuts and one with bean paste and a whole chestnut.
Chop a selection of nuts and fruit and mix with sweet bean paste you will need about 150g of bean paste and a few tablespoons of fruit and nut. Mix together and add a few drops of toasted sesame oil and mix in. Roll into 30g balls.
For your chestnut filling take a 20g ball of bean paste and roll into a ball flatten the ball and place a chestnut in the middle then fold the bean paste over the chestnut.
Remove the dough from the freezer tear off chunks of dough and weigh them to make 30g balls.
Dust your surface with potato starch and flatten the balls, then place a bean paste ball in the middle. Fold over the dough and make in to a ball.
Roll the ball in potato starch and dust your press with potato starch also so nothing sticks. Place the ball inside and turn the press down on to your surface. Press down gently then lift the press to reveal your mooncake. Don’t worry you make get a few not so pretty ones to start with until you get the hang of it. Place each moon cake on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
I made four chopped nuts and five chestnut filling ones as I had a few that didn’t quite work at the beginning.
Brush each cake with soy milk and bake in a moderate oven for 20 minutes. Take out the oven and allow to cool fully, then brush the tops with maple syrup. You can store them in an airtight container for a few days.
When you would like to eat them I recommend placing them in a microwave for 10-20 seconds to slightly warm and soften the cake. It makes them even more delicious as otherwise the pastry is more like a biscuit.
Enjoy and Happy Moon viewing.