School starts and then Mid-Autumn Festival arrives so quickly!
In order to celebrate this traditional holiday of China, the first Mooncake Making Night of PKUSZ was held on September 29th at the Home for International Friends on campus. A diverse group of 20 international and Chinese students from different graduate schools on campus attended this meaningful activity.
In China, it is a tradition to share mooncakes with family and acquaintances for the Mid-Autumn Festival. Families gather to have a lavish dinner. After that, they share mooncakes under the light of the full moon. The Mid-Autumn Festival is on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar. On that night, the moon is bright and full. The round moon and the round mooncakes symbolize harmony and completeness.
To begin the event, International Affairs Coordinator, Nathan, welcomed everyone to take part in this special activity and then, members got to introduce themselves and their hometowns. Finally, the mooncake making began! For most of the participants of the event, it was their first experience ever making mooncakes! Nathan led them through the procedures of how to make classic Guangdong-style red bean paste and salted egg mooncakes.
Step 1: Make the filling and dough round
At each participant’s workstation, 3 separate cups were filled: bean-paste filling, salted duck egg york, and dough. Once you have all the proper ingredients for packing your mooncake, make them each into individual rounds. Put the salted duck egg york into bean-paste filling if you like.
Step 2: Roll the dough
Put the dough on the sheet of baking paper and then roll it with a rolling pin. Remember not to make it too thin, otherwise it may break and not cover the filling. If you are a big fan of matcha or would like to make a colorful mooncake, adding matcha powder should be to your liking.
Step 3: Cover the filling with dough
Carefully cover the filling with the dough. If you find the dough too sticky, spreading some flour on it can be useful. Make the dough into round shape again.
Step 4: Create the shape and pattern
For this, you need a mooncake mold. Find a pattern you like. Various types are offered, such as Rose, “Mooncake”, “Zhong Qiu（中秋）.” Then target at the center of the sphere, push the mold with proper strength. You can put some more flour on the top of the dough before pushing so that it will not stick to the mold. Afterwards, push out the dough with caution because the unbaked mooncakes are fragile.
Step 5: Bake
Brush egg yolk liquid on each of the mooncakes and put them in the oven for a few minutes. Wait until the appearance is golden and crisp on the outside.
During the preparation, every participant seemed to be intrigued by how to make a mooncake from scratch. They listened to the instructions carefully and helped each other make a “perfect” and “special” mooncake. People were amazed to see the little dough baked into a real mooncake. Most importantly, the mooncakes were surprisingly tasty! “I have never thought I could make a mooncake on my own before!!” Deng Xinhe from PHBS exclaimed.
They were also encouraged to take a few home to give friends or family as a meaningful gift for Mid-Autumn Festival. There were special take away boxes just for this purpose. After the mooncakes were done baking, there was one more special activity! Participants were invited to write special PKU and PKU Shenzhen postcards to friends and family to spread the holiday spirit.
Normally, Mid-Autumn Festival is for friends or family to unite together. But of course, many friends and family remain parted, especially this year for students on campus. This was a great chance to write to loved ones about your feelings by postcards and share the warmth of the holiday. Some students started to write their words on postcards instantly. After that, every member helped clean the room.
Accompanied by laughter, happiness and satisfaction, the Mooncake Making Night was over~Let’s see how people felt about this special Mooncake Making Night:
Lin Shiyi: “What a great night! From the beginning of the self-introduction, to the middle of the mooncake making and baking, together with the final postcard, thank the organizers so much to plan the event so carefully! The experience is fantastic! The atmosphere is warm and happy! I give 100 points!”
Juandi Sanchez Fernandez: “The mooncake event brought us all, Chinese and international students, together. It is a beautiful way to learn how to bake this typical Chinese delicacy while you make friends. We also wrote some postcards to our families and friends, such a nice way to honor the most fraternal meaning of this festivity!!”
Cao Siyu: “’May we all be blessed with longevity Though far apart, we are still able to share the beauty of the moon together.’ （“愿人长久，千里共婵娟”） I hope the happy memories of Mooncake Making Night can be long and always be with us.”
Jose Shin: “The Mooncake Making Night was an interesting event. As an international student, learning how to do such an important dessert was a unique experience. Additionally, sharing the experience with Chinese and international friends made the activity more enjoyable.”
Chinwe Alli: “I enjoyed the event and had a great time bonding with the Chinese students. It was my first time making a mooncake and I am glad it turned out nice and tasty.”
Deng Xinhe: “The feeling of taking part in tonight’s activity is: It turns out that I am so clever and skillful!! I had low expectations for myself, but the first mooncake I made turned out to be successful. My classmates also praised it for its beauty and perfection.”
Academic life can get a little dull, so it is important to stay active on campus. Make sure to explore interesting and special events! Keep an eye out on campus for posters and in WeChat groups for future events!
Written by Rosy Wu
Photos by Rosy Wu, Mei Siyu, Nathan Faber