Some weeks ago we were in Evesham, puttering around the charity and antique shops, when youngest child spotted a basket full of what looked like wooden paddles. The very nice lady who was running the shop told us they were Chinese pastry molds and, well, they were only £2 each so we thought “why not?” and duly purchased one.
Now I know very little about Chinese cookery, beyond the obligatory stir fry. So I did what any self respecting Librarian would do and looked them up on Google. It seems these paddles are indeed pastry molds and are often used for making moon cakes for the autumn festivals. What are the chances?
Now I am a little reluctant to try making regional specialities when I have no first hand experience of what the finished item is supposed to look or taste like. A few years ago I tried making Polish pierogis for an Easter get-together we were hosting. It was some months later that I found out that the hearty Cornish pasty like offerings I inflicted on our guests should have been delicate and the size of tortellini. Mind you, the one time the kids and I tried making tortellini they ended up the size of Cornish pasties too. As did the sushi we attempted. Twice. So perhaps I am just genetically incapable of making teeny tiny things. Apart from when I wash any garment made from pure wool when it will inevitably end up small enough to become part of a fetching new wardrobe for my daughters Sylvanian families.
But I digress.
So, moon cakes scared me.
But the paddle was very cute and needed, NEEDED, to be used. It was sitting on the kitchen counter reproaching me for buying it when I didn’t really have a use for it. So I thought, shortbread. Forget the Scottish thistle, lets make Chinese shortbread. Which would basically be a Scottish shortbread recipe, pressed into a Chinese mold. Forget thistles, it’s Lotus blossoms all the way.
The recipe was a very basic one:
175g plain flour
50g corn flour
50g caster sugar
115g unsalted butter, diced
Preheat your oven to 160C/325F/ Gas 3.
Sift together the flour, sugar and corn flour and then rub in the butter. Keep rubbing until you can knead the mixture into a dough.
kneading the dough.
Press the dough into the molds, or make small mounds of dough on your baking sheet and press the mold into the mounds to leave an impression – whichever works best with your mold….
Bake for 35-40 mins until golden. Sprinkle with a light dusting of caster sugar. Leave to cool and then munch