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While my collection doesn't contain any Chinese or Japanese cookie boards, they do exist and many collectors in the United States have examples of these molds in their collections. These Oriental molds feature typical designs found in the Far East like lotus blossoms, immortals, cranes and temple scenes. These molds are used for making rice-based sweet cakes, such as moon cakes from China and rakugan from Japan. Below you will find recipes for both of those types of cakes. I will include two different moon cake recipes, as I have just found another recipe for this sweet rice cake.
MOON CAKES

1 can (17-1/2 oz.) lotus seed paste

1/4 C. finely chopped walnuts

DOUGH:

4 C. all-purpose flour

1/2 C. non-fat powdered milk

3 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

3 eggs

1 C. sugar

1/2 cup shortening, melted and cooled

1 egg yolk, lightly beaten

1) Mix lotus seed paste and walnuts together in a bowl; set aside.

2) Sift flour, powdered milk, baking powder and salt into a bowl. In a large bowl, beat eggs with an electric mixer on medium speed until eggs are light and lemon colored. Add sugar; beat for 10 minutes or until mixture falls in a thick ribbon. Add melted shortening; mix lightly. With a spatula, fold in flour mixture. Turn dough out on a lightly floured board; knead for 1 minute or until smooth and satiny. Divide dough in half; roll each half into a log. Cut each log into 12 equal pieces.

3) To shape each moon cake, roll a piece of dough into a ball. Roll out on a lightly floured board to make a 4-inch circle about 1/8-inch thick. Place 1 tablespoon of lotus seed paste mixture incenter of dough circle. Fold in sides of dough to completely enclose filling; press edges to seal. Lightly flour inside of moon cake mold with 2-1/2 inch diameter cups. Place moon cake, seam side up, in mold; flatten dough to conform to shape of mold. Bang one end of the mold lightly on work surface to dislodge moon cake. Place cake on ungreased baking sheet. Repeat to shape remaining cakes. Brush tops with egg yolk.

4) Bake in a preheated 375°F oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to a rack and let cool.

Yield: 2 dozen moon cakes

SHANGHAI MOON CAKES

4 C. flour

4 Tbsp. brown sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

4 oz. margarine

1 egg

1 tsp. sesame oil

for the filling:

2 Tbsp. peanuts

2 Tbsp. sesame seeds

2 Tbsp. walnuts or pine nuts

2 Tbsp. chestnuts, boiled until tender, or blanched almonds

2 Tbsp. sultanas or other dried fruit, chopped

2 Tbsp. chopped dried apricots

4 Tbsp. brown sugar

2 Tbsp. margarine

2 Tbsp. rice flour or poppy seeds

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Sift together the flour, sugar and salt. Chop the margarine into pieces and rub into the flour until it forms crumbs. Add enough hot water (about 1/2 cup) to make a pastry dough. Cover with a cloth. Roast peanuts in a hot pan for 2 minutes. Add the sesame seeds, then put a lid on to stop the seeds from jumping out of the pan. Roast for 2 more minutes. Place the peanuts and sesame seeds into a food processor and grind with the other nuts. Add the remaining filling ingredients and mix together.

Roll out the pastry dough on a floured board. Cut rounds with a pastry cutter to fit the mold you are using. Rub the wooden moon cake mold with margarine and spread dough over bottom and sides of the mold. Place 1 tablespoon of filling into the center of the dough. Press down gently. Wet the edges of the pastry dough and cover with another round to make a lid. Seal together, and remove from the mold. Place all of the moon cakes on a greased baking sheet. Beat the egg and sesame oil together and brush each cake with this mixture. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the moon cakes are golden brown.

Yield: About 15 cakes.


Rakugan is a simple Japanese sweet cake which consists primarily of rice and sugar. The molds are interesting, as they are in two separate pieces. The bottom piece has the carved design, while the top piece has a hole which matches exactly to the outside border of the design on the bottom board. I don't collect this mold type, but those who do collect them know of the incredible detail that these carvings exhibit. The following recipe is courtesy of Yuriko Tasaka and it is for miniature rakugan. I assume that one could make larger rakugan by increasing the recipe to what they desire. I will continue searching for another rakugan recipe. I have found that people in the town of Obuse, Japan, use chestnuts grown in that region for making the rakugan.
MINIATURE RAKUGAN

scant 1/2 C. sugar

2 Tbsp. katakuriko* (potato starch)

3 1/2 Tbsp. kanbaiko* (smashed glutinous rice)

1-2 Tbsp. water

colored powders if desired (food coloring)

1) Add water to sugar and stir well in a bowl.

2) Add the kanbaiko, katakuriko and colored powders (if desired), and wait until the dough becomes slightly hard.

3) Lay the dough in the cake mold, pat the mold from the back and remove the cakes.

4) Dry the cakes in the shade.

*katakuriko is sold everywhere in Japan and possibly in Japanese markets here in the United States. It can be ordered from this website: http://japan-cooking.com/english/kisotech/katakuri.html

*kanbaiko roughly translates into "smashed glutinous rice". Once again, check for this at Japanese markets in the United States, or look for a product called "mijinko" around Tokyo.


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