Since it is the mid-autumn festival today, I will write about my favourite mooncakes which I have been eating since my childhood days. For those who are not familiar with the mid-autumn festival, it is widely celebrated in Asia as a festival that signifies the reunion or unit of the family. During this festival, families get together to have mooncakes and tea while enjoying the view of the full moon.
Mooncakes are eaten during the mid-autumn because of its round shape which is similar to the full moon and also the Chinese word Yuan means round as well as reunion. The simple traditional mooncakes are baked with a sweet paste and salted egg yolks. To cater to new customers, many hotels and bakeries have since invented many new flavours and excessively exquisite packaging for them with exorbitant price tags. For me, my go-to shop is still Tai Thong Cake Shop which is a traditional Chinese bakery since the 1950s.
They made traditional cakes and pastries for general day to day consumption as well as important events like weddings, mid-autumn festivals and Chinese Lunar New Year. Many Chinese festivals require special cakes and pastries and Tai Thong Cake Shop makes them with their traditional recipes in their humble shop in Mosque Street, Chinatown. Although they are extremely popular, they have no other franchise or outlet except this old school shop.
Back to mooncakes, instead of frivolous and over the top packaging, Tai Thong packs their mooncakes in these simple functional paper boxes with traditional mid-autumn festival design. The cost of each mooncake is also very affordable ranging from SGD 38 to SGD 58 per box depending on the flavour and number of egg yolks. For context, the cheapest ones you can find from the hotels outside is from SGD 50 onwards
The double yolk mooncakes from Tai Thong is more of an oval shape to accommodate 2 huge double yolks. One of the reasons why I love Tai Thong cakes and mooncake is because the pastry skin is very fragrant and tasty. From the picture, you can see the nice brown and glossy skin made purely by hand and with good baking heat. Most of the others sold outside have very bland skin where you can still taste the flour taste and lacks that oven-baked flavour.
The mooncake is filled with sweet lotus paste with chopped lotus nuts and salted egg yolks. The lotus paste in Tai Thong Cakeshop is not overly sweet and has a good balance with the salty egg yolks. It is best to have the mooncakes with hot Chinese tea to wash down the sweet and salty flavours.
For me, the one thing that makes their mooncake the best is the pastry skin itself. Just like most old traditional shops, they have that nice baked flavour like food cooked on charcoal stove having a unique baked taste. This is something that is lacking in many machine-made mooncakes from other shops. When I heard that they were looking to sell their shop together with their recipe because the main owner running the shop is looking at retirement, I was devastated. Luckily, they decided to continue an additional year until they find a buyer which is why I managed to get my mooncake this year. I do hope there will be someone to continue this traditional shop in future. Meanwhile, do check out this bakery for other Chinese pastries even after the mid-autumn festival.
You can check out their family story here
Address: 35 Mosque St, Singapore 059513
Operating hours: 8.30 am to 8 pm
Additional bonus information: For Cantonese, during mid-autumn festivals, we will also eat mini yams and water caltrop ( the black bull horn thing). The Cantonese rationale I hear from my mum is that as we peel the skin of the mini yam, we will peel off all the bad luck and stuff that is happening in our lives. For the water caltrop, it is supposed to help us gain an advantage in life and be ahead of others. Well whether the old folk’s tales are true, I love the mini yams as they are much more delicious than the regular ones and is only available during this festival.