Teochew Taro Mooncakes – Recipe

Also known as 'spiral mooncakes' and 'thousand layer mooncakes', these are quite different from the Cantonese-style moulded ones. The centre can be anything, but the outside consists of a delicately thin, layered, flaky pastry that's created by folding and rolling two types of dough together.

These flaky swirl mooncakes tie with snow skin mooncakes as being my favourite (although I do enjoy the Cantonese baked ones, too). The pastry almost melts in the mouth and the filling is not too sweet, making them ideal for breakfast as well as a snack.

As you can see below, the taro filling can have a tendency to burst out of the fragile pastry casing while baking. This only happened to about a quarter of my mooncakes, where I'd occasionally been a bit too rough stretching the dough (so the layers were a bit too loose against each other). I also rolled the pastry up the wrong way once or twice. Practice makes perfect, I guess.

Still, I'm reasonably pleased with the way these turned out- they're not bad for a first attempt.

This mooncake recipe isn't really of my own invention: it's more a Frankenstein-like mix of several different methods i've found on the internet (some use all butter, some use all lard, some use just vegetable oil, some use a powder dough instead of an oil dough etc etc). The one thing all Teochew mooncakes have in common is that they're made with both a water-based and an oil-based pastry. In the end I used butter to enrich the white 'water pastry' and white vegetable fat for the 'oil pastry' for an even greater contrast in texture and buttery flavour. Plus I didn't want the butter to interfere with the colour of the oil pastry.

Instead of just using purple food colouring, I used ube flavouring, which is already deep purple. Not to be confused with taro, ube is a kind of purple sweet potato, and does have a slightly different flavour, but I find it works really well with taro. If you can't find ube flavouring, you can just stick with food colouring.

This is going to take you a while and your hands are going to be covered in taro goo and oil, so I recommend you put a nice long movie on in the background. Lord of the Rings should do it.

Let's go!

(Makes 20 mooncakes.)

Ingredients for Filling:

400g taro root, peeled and sliced (or bought ready-sliced and frozen)
100g caster sugar
70ml coconut oil, melted

Ingredients for Water Dough:

250g plain flour
65g unsalted butter, melted
30g icing sugar, dissolved in 50ml water
50ml vegetable oil
(A few tsps more water, if needed)

Ingredients for Oil Dough:

150g plain flour
75g shortening (Crisco or Trex), melted
1tbsp vegetable oil
A few drops ube flavouring/ purple food colouring


1) Steam the taro for 30 minutes until tender, and blend while still warm with the sugar and oil until it forms a paste.

2) Fry on a low to medium heat until it forms a dough. Transfer it into a bowl, cover and cool to room temperature, before dividing and rolling into 20 balls. Cover and set aside, and preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.

3) To make the water dough, stir the wet ingredients into the dry, kneading into a dough when it begins to come together (if it's too dry, add a little more water). Let the dough rest for 20 minutes.

4) Make the oil dough in the same way, stirring the melted shortening and colouring/ flavouring into the flour.

5) Divide both doughs up into 10 balls each. Take a ball of water dough and flatten it out, with the edges rolled even more thinly. Pop a purple oil dough ball in the centre and close up the water dough around it.

6) Roll the stuffed ball out on a lightly-floured surface into a long shape (don't worry if it splits and the purple stuffing starts to peak out), again with the ends thinner, and roll up lengthways.

7) Keeping it seam-side down, rotate your 'dough cigar' 90 degrees so it's pointing away from you, and flatten it again with your rolling pin. Finally, roll it up into a cigar shape again, and chop it in half down the middle. Check out the pretty spiral in the centre!

8) Place one of the halves cut-side down and flatten out with the palm of your hand. Pinch the edges thinner, pop a ball of taro filling in the middle and close it up again, taking care not to tear the delicate layers around the ball you've now created.

9) Place the ball seam-side down on a lined baking tray, repeat until you have 20 swirly spiral-y creations, and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, taking care not to let them brown. Remove from the oven, cool a little, and eat warm or at room temperature.

Have fun!


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