While most modern mooncakes are mass-production factory products, there are a few kitchens still handmaking these traditional autumn sweets. Chef Zhao Jinpeng, 28, at the new JE Shanghai Science Hall, a dining and events space in the historic Nanchang Lu building, learned the Imperial-style supi (crispy pastry) mooncake recipe from master chef Wang Xifu, who hails from a family of legendary cooks, including a grandfather who was a royal chef in the Forbidden City. While the boom in mooncake sales has seen everyone from Häagen-Dazs to Starbucks put their own spin on the traditional treat, supi mooncakes originated in the Qing dynasty and have a flaky, layered white pastry enveloping savoury or sweet fillings.
The entire process of shaping and baking supi mooncakes takes around four hours. The ingredients are simple: flour, butter, lard, milk powder, sugar, green bean powder and rose petal paste. Two types of dough are used to create the flaky layers; both are made with low gluten flour and lard but only one has the addition of ice water. Unlike the heavy, oily and cloyingly sugary mooncakes you typically receive, these fresh mooncakes are lightly flavoured and only mildly sweet.
Chef Zhao’s mooncakes are 428RMB/box of eight; 380RMB/box of six and available from JE Shanghai Science Hall, 47 Nanchang Lu, near Yandang Lu, Huangpu district (3126 8801). Open 9am-11pm daily. Shaanxi Nan Lu. 黄浦区南昌路 47号上海科学会堂1号楼 , 近雁荡路