Baked mooncakes are really about indulgence. Everyone knows they’re calorie bombs but we eat them anyway, preferring to rely on the self-serving “mid-autumn festival is also once a year!” excuse. Which is why it’s all the more important to track down the ones that are gratifying enough to be worth the guilt. Working with traditionalists in mind, we binged our way to spotlight five classic baked mooncakes to splurge on. And just to be extra sure of our recommendations, we tasted our shortlist again three days later to verify that they hold up sufficiently well.
Traditional Baked Low Sugar White Lotus Paste Mooncake with Single Yolk
$75 for a box of four, Crowne Plaza Changi Airport
Crowne Plaza may not have been a top-of-mind source for mooncakes, but this dark horse totally stormed out of nowhere and left us in awe. The pastry skin crust was exquisite and clung onto the white lotus paste just right. The silky paste was discernibly less sweet when compared with other traditional mooncakes, but comfortably so – at no point did we feel like we were missing out. The yolk was moist without being greasy, and briny enough to be decadent. Even when we revisited the (cut) mooncake again after three days, this was still our favourite – it got only a teeny bit oilier, but the overall flavours and textures remained very much on point.
White Lotus with Single Yolk
$62 for a box of four, Yan
This mooncake from Yan had us fondly reliving childhood memories of snacking on zhu zai bing (piglet biscuits) – it tastes like a cross between that and a mooncake. Just like zhu zai bing, the crust is thicker with a denser chew, and lacquered to a dark patina that offered the same caramel-esque comfort. That also translated to a starker sweet-and-salty contrast with the yolky core – a plus in our book. At first, the crust and paste were a tad slicker than we would have liked, but we discovered that this initial oiliness led to a softer, more delectable crust when we tried the mooncake again a few days later.
White Lotus Seed Paste with Single Yolk
From $40 for two pieces, Goodwood Park Hotel
Goodwood Park Hotel is frequently touted as the custodian of traditional standards when it comes to baked mooncakes, and year after year, it indeed delivers. The crust is supple, the lotus paste has a satisfying sweetness, and the yolk is gloriously salty – the flavours are reassuringly robust, just the way grandma expects them to be. One caveat: On our second tasting, the yolk and paste were getting dry around the edges a little more quickly than the other mooncakes, so this one is not suited for hoarding.
Reduced Sugar White Lotus Seed Paste with Single Yolk
From $22 apiece, Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore
For some of us, mooncake season is just another convenient festive excuse to indulge in salted egg yolks, the more gau the better. If that resonates, then the single yolk mooncake from Shangri-La Hotel could very well be your undoing. The yolk glistens just so, and it’s completely unapologetic about its dual onslaught of salty and eggy hit. The mooncake does well on other fronts too: The crust is adequately thin, and the lotus paste is pretty moist – no danger of this one crumbling apart.
White Lotus Seed Paste Baked Mooncakes with Single Yolk
$72 for a box of four, Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza
We’ve also long looked upon the Singapore Marriott as another reliable source, and it doesn’t disappoint. The delicate pastry skin, flavourful yolk and the lovely fragrance of the lotus seed paste certainly made for quite a winning combination. Our only quibble is that the yolk was slightly more compressed than for the other mooncakes. That’s not an issue if you eat it immediately after purchase, but leave your mooncake out for too long, and the yolk runs the risk of getting a bit dry around the edges.
To do your baked mooncakes justice…
The general consensus among mooncake vendors is that baked mooncakes are best stored at room temperature (away from sunlight!), and up to a maximum of three to four weeks – provided they’re still in their individual packaging with the sachet of desiccant. We found that most baked mooncakes start to weep traces of oil even in a matter of days, so you’ll want to consume your purchases sooner than later.