During the Mid-Autumn Festival, mooncakes become the most sought-after product in Việt Nam as people enjoy the pleasure of gathering around with their family to have tea and pastries. This year, due to the impact of the pandemic, many consumers are making mooncakes at home instead of buying them in stores.
Traditionally, the palm-sized pastries used to be round or square shape with a lotus pattern. During social distancing, home cooks have more time to get creative. They create mooncakes in all kinds of shape, including those of cartoon characters, oriental zodiacal animals or folk paintings. The most popular this year are round shapes with floral patterns.
A batch of home-made baked mooncakes — Photo courtesy of Phan Thu Hiền
The tastes and flavours of the cakes have also become diverse. They used to be filled with lotus seeds, mung bean, Chinese sausages, pumpkin seeds and salted egg yolk, but now include cheese, durian, lava custard, and many more.
Nguyễn Quỳnh Chi, a young marketer living in Đà Nẵng, received hundreds of compliments after sharing pictures of her “stay-at-home” mooncakes on a Facebook group.
Chi combines a traditional mooncake mould and silicone flower moulds to create floral patterns and then binds them with corn syrup. The colours of the cakes are also created using bamboo charcoal powder, matcha and red yeast rice flour.
According to Chi, the best thing about making your own mooncakes is being able to adjust the sweetness, the filling and the shape of the cake yourself.
Staying at home and making your own mooncakes is also a way to relieve stress and fatigue during the ongoing pandemic, Chi said.
Fortune inscription Phúc – Lộc – Thọ (Happiness, Wealth and Longevity) on mooncakes — Photo courtesy of Đỗ Thu Hà
Phan Thu Hiền, a home-cook in Hà Nội, also started making mooncakes by herself this year due to the city-wide lockdown.
“I am concerned that queuing up to buy cakes will spread the disease and ordering pre-made cakes can be easily damaged or broken in transport. So I chose to make my own mooncakes at home to ensure health and safety for the whole family instead of buying them from the store,” Hiền said.
Hiền also proudly shared that DIY mooncakes have become her new hobby during the pandemic.
“At first, I tried using ingredients that are available in the kitchen such as eggs, milk, flour and nuts to make the cake. After being praised by family and relatives, my mooncakes have become much more creative. Making mooncakes for my loved ones has also become a new hobby for me,” she said.
Easy to buy ingredients
During this time, many mooncake manufacturers have begun to transform their business models and sell ingredients online. Just by typing the keyword "mooncake ingredients" into Google, it will immediately return results on thousands of websites selling all kinds of tools and ingredients.
At a few stores on Shopee, a combo pack of ingredients for DIY mooncake includes sausages, sugar, cashews, dried zucchini, lotus jam, rice flour, five-spice powder, with prices ranging from VND100,000 - 175,000 per bag. Each bag can make about 15 cakes of 150g. Depending on the ingredients, the price of the "combo packages" will vary. Online stores also provided tools such as cake moulds, trays, packaging, rolling pins, ovens, enough for you to become a professional baker.
Since the city is under lockdown, Lê Phương Anh, 24, a lecturer living in Hà Nội, started buying ingredients on e-commerce platforms to make mooncakes by herself at home.
After watching a few tutorial videos as well as getting some tips online, Anh easily finished her mooncakes.
Round mooncakes with floral patterns — Photo courtesy of Nguyễn Quỳnh Chi
So excited and proud, she posted photos of her achievement on Facebook and received hundreds of comments praising the uniqueness of her “Tiramisu” flavoured mooncake.
Grasping the high demand, Facebook groups continuously post information about online mooncake making classes. Bakery owners also promote these courses by filming videos and posting on social networking sites such as Facebook, Youtube and TikTok to attract more participants.
After participating in an online mooncake making course, Đỗ Thu Hà, a flight attendant, was able to make eye-catching cakes with fortune inscription: Phúc – Lộc – Thọ (Happiness, Wealth and Longevity) for her family and friends.
“Making your own cake at home is very simple and easy. This is an activity that brings me joy during the pandemic,” Hà said. — VNS
Tiramisu flavoured mooncakes — Photo courtesy of Lê Phương Anh