Vegan Vietnamese Baked Mooncakes (Banh Nuong)

It would not be a proper Mid-Autumn Moon Festival (Tet Trung Thu) without mooncakes! Try my vegan twist on a Vietnamese-style baked mooncake recipe!

An essential part of the Vietnamese Mid-Autumn Moon Festival (Tet Trung Thu) are Banh Trung Thu or mooncakes. The two most common type of mooncakes are Banh Nuong (baked cakes) or Banh Deo (soft and sticky cakes). In Vietnam, there are many varieties of mooncake filling flavors. Sweet fillings include lotus paste, red bean paste, and mung bean paste. While savory fillings include pork, sausage, and salted egg yolk. The term “mooncake” first appeared during China’s Song Dynasty (1127-1279) and was regularly used during the harvest moon festival by the Ming Dynasty. No one knows exactly when mooncakes came into Vietnam, but they have been in Vietnamese cuisine for hundreds of years thanks to Chinese influence.

Mooncake gift giving is a popular element of Tet Trung Thu. People gift mooncakes to family members, friends, colleagues, and businesses. The cakes are presented in beautiful boxes that are typically red or gold with elaborate designs. Then people will eat the mooncakes with tea under the full moon.

As a child, I was always amazed by the mooncakes that came every autumn to the Vietnamese bakeries. They were beautiful. There were round cakes and square ones. Each with lovely designs imprinted on them, like flowers, fish, lanterns, and rabbits. People would crowd the bakery counters and order boxes and boxes of these coveted treats to give to family and friends.

I never made mooncakes growing up. My family had a good relationship with our favorite Vietnamese bakery so we always supported them by buying mooncakes from their shop. Plus the art of mooncake making was extremely time intensive and my family used their time to make other traditional foods for Mid-Autumn Moon Festival.

This year I decided I would make them myself. I scoured the internet for recipes, searched for mooncake molds, and collected all the ingredients. Once I began making the dough, I realized something…I had forgotten to get eggs for the egg wash. Then I looked at all my ingredients and figured out that without the eggs, these baked mooncakes could be vegan. Which was a stunning revelation because it meant I could gift them to my vegan siblings and friends. After a lot of work and trials, I have created a mooncake recipe that I hope you enjoy! Share your mooncakes with family and friends!

Vegan Vietnamese Baked Mooncakes (Banh Nuong) Recipe

Vegan

Yields 12 servings

Specialty Tools: 3 inch Mooncake molds, rolling pin, parchment paper, sieve, electric mixer, food scale, and pastry brush

Prep Time:  1 hour and 40 minutes

Bake Time:  13 to 18 minutes

Inactive Time:  50 to 65 minutes

Drink Pairing Suggestion: Black tea or Green tea

Ingredients

Dough:

1/2 cup cake flour

1/2 cup bread flour

Extra all purpose flour for dusting

3 heaping teaspoons creamy peanut butter

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Extra oil for brushing

3/4 cup golden syrup (recipe below)*

Filling:

24 ounces lotus paste

Directions

Dough Directions:

Sieve the cake flour and bread flour together into a large bowl.

Create a well in the center of the bowl.

Add the peanut butter to the center well.

Mix together with an electric mixer. As the machine runs gently pour oil and golden syrup into the mixture. Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients together.

The dough will be wet and sticky. If not, keep adding oil or golden syrup until it reaches the desired consistency.

Cover the dough with plastic wrap to prevent the dough from drying. Rest at room temperature for 30-45 minutes.

Shaping Directions:

While the dough is resting prepare the filling.

Each mooncake will need 2 ounces of filling.

Using a food scale, measure out 2 ounces of filling.

Roughly shape filling into balls and set aside on a plate.

When the dough is rested it needs to be shaped.

Dust a clean flat surface with flour.

Using a food scale, measure out 1 ounce of dough.

Roll the dough into a ball and dust with flour. Set aside on a plate lined with parchment paper and flour. Repeat until all the dough is used up.

Assembly Directions:

Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

Flour a smooth surface. Lay a dough ball on it. Roll it into a flat circle with a floured rolling pin.

Place a filling ball onto the dough circle. Wrap the filling ball with the dough. Set aside on a plate dusted with flour. Repeat until all the filling and dough are used up. (This will make about 12 mooncake balls.)

Lightly brush oil onto the inside of a mooncake mold. Gently press the mooncake ball into the mold to shape it.

Gently remove the shaped mooncake onto the parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Repeat until all the cakes are shaped.

Baking Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Bake the mooncakes for 8-10 minutes.

Remove from the oven. Let them rest for 10 minutes.

Lightly brush the cooled cakes with vegetable oil.

Place them back into the oven for 5-8 minutes until bottoms are browned and the top is slightly golden.

Let them rest on the cookie sheet for 10 minutes.

Move them to a cooling rack.

Eat at room temperature with tea!

Store at room temperature and eat within 3 days. If stored in the refrigerator, eat within 5 days.

Golden Syrup Recipe*

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Yields about 1 cup

Specialty Tool: Mesh strainer

Prep Time: 2 minutes

Cook Time: 65 minutes

Ingredients

1 cup grandulated sugar

1/2 cup water

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Directions

Heat the sugar and water together in a small pot over medium heat.

Stir and make sure the sugar dissolves into the water.

When the mixture begins to boil pour the lemon juice through a fine mesh strainer.

Turn the heat to low.

Simmer the mixture on low heat for 1 hour.

Mixture will be thin at first, but will have the consistency of honey when it cools.

Pour the syrup into a heatproof storage container and cool completely before sealing and storing.

Golden syrup will last a year if stored at room temperature.

DID YOU MAKE THIS DISH?

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