Bread History’s Mooncakes

The past couple of weeks, I saw that stalls have been set up in the malls to sell mooncakes. Seems like we are getting close to the 中秋节 Mooncake Festival @ Mid-Autumn Festival again, huh?

It made me think that maybe I should buy a box of mooncakes to bring home, for I have never done it before. So I went to the stalls to check out the latest prices, but to my chagrin, the cheapest mooncake was selling at RM 18.99 per cake. That means a box of mooncakes would be close to RM76! We definitely need some smart guy managing our Chinatown affairs in a better way – like this Tran Siu, who is based in Melbourne!

So I banished that thought to the deepest recess of my mind and moved on with life…

Then, a day before I left for home in KL, I spotted the in-house Bread History was selling some handmade mooncakes. It was RM 59.90 per box, and there were 9 mooncakes in the box. That sounds… less expensive (still expensive).

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What attracted me was the fact that these mooncakes are supposed to be all handmade and without preservatives, so they should be safer for consumption. And also the paste that they use as fillings for the mooncakes. I mean, words like red dates and six coarse grains and osmanthus it doesn’t matter if the mooncakes taste good or not, those words alone would probably please my mom greatly.

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So I bought two boxes on a whim. And I brought them home with me. True enough, my mom was impressed with the illustration and description sheet.

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The mooncakes are actually pretty small. I would say they are like, a third of one of those premium branded mooncakes from the malls, or half of those cheap mooncakes from the morning/night market. So this means in terms of overall size, it is not cheaper than those mooncakes from the malls. But it is probably more worth it due to the health related properties.

These are called 上海月饼 Shanghai mooncakes. I’m actually not really sure if this is really how mooncakes in Shanghai would look like, or if it is just a name given by the Cantonese people for these round shaped mooncakes.

How did the mooncakes taste? Well… I did try a few flavors before I came back to Penang. Well, they taste… erm… special. They’re sweet but not too sweet, so that’s good. But they don’t taste like the usual lotus paste mooncakes that I am so used to, and I’m not sure if this is a good thing or not. I suppose it is, at least they taste much better than all those coffee/lavender/durian/whatever-new-age flavored crap that those mooncake houses managed to concoct in recent years…

 

40 Comments

  1. prices for mooncakes are increasing. but buying cheap ones may be wasteful too, not nice.

    I used to force myself to splurge for the more expensive ones. because buying the not too tasty ones, i may ended up not finishing them and wasted.

    • For me, as long as the mooncakes are not horrible, then I’ll be able to eat them. My tolerance to taste is quite loose, and if the thing is cheap, the tolerance will be further loosen.

  2. Very expensive lah these mooncakes. Just the other day, I was at Aeon with my partner and I saw that one mooncake is around upwards of RM18+. But still buy a box of 4 as a gift for my auntie. Personally, I am not that crazy about mooncakes. I am only interested in the salted duck yolk hah..hah… I only eat the lotus paste ones. Don’t like those fancy flavors except for pandan.

    • If I have girlfriend, I will also have no choice but to pay up, I guess. It is always during these festive times that I feel I am lucky to be single. >.<

  3. It is good that those mooncakes are small because I usually think they are too filling… I have a box at home that my bf brought but I still didn’t try them, I’m not a big fan!

    In Suzhou we have meat mooncakes all year round and those are good…

  4. I’ve not bought (or eaten) mooncakes for many years…I know prices have been going up but didn’t know it has tripled in cost…just ridiculous! Oh well, no loss to me since I’m not into mooncakes since they’re usually rather sweet. If I were to eat them, I can deal with 1 or 2 pieces only!

    • Good for you. Apart from this one, I too have never bought mooncakes for years. Unlike you, I actually like mooncakes, but I thought it was stupid to pay close to RM 20 for 1 mooncake which should really only cost RM 2 to make if not for unnecessary packaging and unreasonable profit margins.

  5. If you didn’t mention they were mooncakes, I’d think they were some fancy buns from the bread shop. Mooncakes are really that bad? All I can think of is that they are high in sugar and that is so, so, so bad… I’m certainly a savoury person and I struggle to finish a quarter of a mooncake on many occasions, and I don’t drink tea.

    Here in Melbourne, Chinatown sells mooncakes this time of the year (pretty sure all other times of the year too, but less stock). Very expensive but I forgot the pricing. They do sell some really cheap ones around $30 per box of four but I wouldn’t trust those :/

    • They are really getting unreasonably expensive year over year. I don’t think many people buy them for self consumption nowadays, mostly we buy them as gifts to others. I guess people are still buying it, and then there’s the “face” factor so prevalent among Chinese so the skyrocketing prices actually pander to the ego of some for being able to afford it, so every year the prices go up. I really miss the good old days when we can buy 1 box of mooncakes for RM 20 as opposed to 1 mooncake for RM 20 now. 🙁

      A$ 30 is really cheap I guess. I remember seeing mooncakes sold in Liverpool for 15 pounds (RM 80-ish) per mooncake in 2007. It was crazy!

      • What, RM 20 for one piece of mooncake now 🙁 I can’t imagine what one piece of ice-cream filling mooncake will cost, and those cold snow skin mooncakes.

        When we lived in Malaysia, my parents always bought only one brand of mooncakes. They came in a red tin box. It’s driving me crazy and I can’t remember the brand…can you help me out? 😉

        • If you are around my age and this was your childhood, I suspect those were the Oversea Restaurant’s mooncakes. Back in those days, it was the only branded mooncake that was popular. I loved them because they have a restaurant in Central Market where I used to hangout in, and they will set up a big ass oven and bake the mooncakes fresh.

            • Hah! Good to know that you are a bit younger than me. But I won’t probe deeper than that. I understand the need to respect the secret of a girl’s age. 😀 😀

  6. Nowadays mooncakes not cheap, and the packaging is nice, guess the prices goes to the nice packaging…

    • Most of it probably goes to “need to achieve at least 60% Gross Margin” for the companies that produce them..

  7. Mooncakes are a luxury now, as they are so expensive.. I was at Aeon, walked passed by concourse area where they were having mooncakes “expo”, terpandang 1 biji RM21.99, I didn’t see the flavour.. I was like, what ??!! I’m very traditional, I still prefer 3 types and just 3 types only – lotus, pandan and red bean – with or without yolk. Now got so many fancy types like chocolate la, beetroot la, cheesecake la, macam-macam, but I still prefer my lotus with yolk..

  8. I only had few times moon cakes. Few years ago we were in China during mid autumn festival and my father-in-law got dozens of boxes for free due to his work back then (driver for government officials in xi’an). Sadly his department was downsized/ dissolved this spring so I don’t know whether we will get some boxes still for free. We will be only in xi’an till the 21of September but everywhere are already advertisements for moon cakes

  9. The most important thing is did your mother eat them and did she like the taste of them?

    I am curious, do the fillings in the mooncakes taste like the real thing as in red dates filling tastes like real red dates or not?

    • She ate them without any special expressions or comments, I’m not sure if she likes these mooncakes’ taste or not.

      I have not tasted any red dates flavor, but then I have not tried them all. I did catch the mung beans, lotus paste and honey osmanthus flavors though..

  10. i always look forward to the Mooncake Festival every year, not that i fancy mooncakes that much, but i find those very creative mooncake flavors very interesting.. every year the restaurant or bakeries will sure come out with new combination of flavors, which i find the colors so inviting.. and now i like this idea of having smaller mooncakes, i am always for variety, so this one that comes with 9 smaller (instead of 4 big ones) mooncakes ngum me woh~~

  11. I went to China during the Mid Autumn festival in Beijing. I was so shocked to see so many brands of exotic, fabulous, creative and out of this would moon cakes on sale. The sellers were competing amongst themselves with different tastes, fillings and beautiful boxes.
    I ended up buying a set of 30 Imperial moon cakes in miniature sizes, supposedly enjoyed by the old Emperors. I bought that just to give my ex boss in KL. I had no chance to taste them but boss said it was fantastic & good bite sizes.
    As for your Shanghai moon cakes, they really sell them in that shape in Shanghai besides other common shapes. Elsewhere in different provinces, they have innovative shapes too in gold fishes, tortoise and etc. I am still traditional and must eat lotus paste filings with few yolks. My wife made them last year and gave out to many people. Her cost for each one was less than RM2.00, given that she didn’t buy her ingredients at wholesale prices. I guess those big restaurants could bring the cost under RM1.00 each.

    • You forgot to factor in the cost of workers, bills, vacuum seal and packaging, advertisements, and then 60-70% gross margin. That’s how big companies are run nowadays. I miss the good old days when a mooncake was RM 6… 😐

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