‘Mooncakes and Milk Bread’: Celebrating the tastes of Chinese American bakeries

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An architecture graduate and interior designer, Cho turned to baking a few years ago when he couldn’t find satisfaction at work, eventually starting his own blog, eat chow.

Her grandparents moved from Hong Kong to Cleveland in the late 1960s, and some of Cho’s favorite childhood memories include trips to Chinese bakeries around America, where he would eat egg tarts and hot dog flower buns.

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“I rarely saw recipes for my Chinese bakery favorites in the books or on the Internet. I felt there was a void in the baking cookbook landscape when it comes to baked goods,” Cho told Granthshala Travel.

“I soon started sharing my own recipes for Red Bean Swirl Buns and Hot Dog Flower Buns. Hot Dog Flower Buns received overwhelmingly positive and personal feedback from my followers and readers. I guess because they’re just so. We’re nostalgic… and another reason almost everyone loves eating hot dogs.”

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‘Mooncake and Milk Bread’ introduces readers to Chinese baking.

christina chow

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The reaction inspired Chow to write a cookbook featuring baked goods traditionally found in Chinese American bakeries.

“Chinese bakery originated in Hong Kong, which was heavily influenced by British culture, so you find a lot of custards, sponge cakes, and flaky pastries in Chinese bakeries,” says Cho.

“Over the years bakers have adapted recipes and flavors to appeal to a more Asian palette that appreciates sweets that aren’t too sweet.”

In addition to recipes, Chow’s book also includes stories about iconic Chinese American bakeries around America, such as Fe Da Bakery in New York City, Eastern Bakery in San Francisco and Phoenix Bakery in Los Angeles.

“Chinese baking is one aspect of Chinese and Asian culture that isn’t really talked about and I’m grateful to have the opportunity to explore it,” she explains.

“Chinese bakeries are much more than a place to pick up your favorite bun or birthday sponge cake. For many people, these bakeries are community centers that connect them back to their home and heritage.”

Mother of all: Milk Bread

When asked what makes Chinese baked goods unique, Chow distinguishes milk bread, or, as she calls it, the “mother of all.”

“The first thing I notice is the incredibly soft texture of the baked buns,” she says.

“Most baked buns at Chinese bakeries use milk bread flour, which is a bread dough enriched with butter, eggs, and milk. The toppings and fillings for each bun are literally endless. Pork floss, green onions, tuna Lettuce, matcha custard, mango jam and red bean paste all look the same.

“Bread is very similar to brioche or challah, but it is exactly how bakers infuse and incorporate these flavors and ingredients into bread that make Chinese bakery buns uniquely theirs.”

Cho’s book focuses primarily on Cantonese-style baked goods such as cocktail buns and egg tarts, but also includes recipes from other areas, such as the savory spring onion pancake. Even matcha and hojicha cream puffs are featured.

“I also wanted to show that there is so much diversity and cultural influence in Chinese baking,” the authors say.

“Depending on the bakery and which part of China the owner or baker is in, you may find more flatbreads or steamed buns filled with salty fillings rather than sponge cakes adorned with shiny fruits.”

defining mooncakes

Mooncakes, a symbol of the Mid-Autumn Festival, are the other classic treat featured in the title of Cho’s book. It serves as a great example of how Chinese baked goods have evolved and adopted different cultures.

“Many people associate the Cantonese style of mooncakes with the Platonic ideal of mooncakes, but this is not necessarily true. Every region of China has its own style,” explains Cho.

“Some have a flaky crust made from crumbly flour and fat and some are filled with meat instead of a sweet paste.”

These days, mooncakes are stuffed with everything from ice cream to custard, something even bolder chefs offer. Mooncake Wellington, complete with beef tenderloin.

For Chow, a mooncake should not be defined by its shape and form, but by the way it is eaten.

Granthshala’s Alexandra Fields talks to celebrity cook Maria Cordero about the mooncakes, enjoyed during China’s Mid-Autumn Festival. Be careful – they are full of flavor, but also full of calories!

“I love all mooncakes because they represent a moment that allows us to focus on togetherness and look positively toward the future. Mooncakes are usually round to symbolize the moon and togetherness, ” she says.

“So to me, a mooncake can be any shape, but is filled with a delicious and decadent filling, and is made to be shared with loved ones.”

Any mooncake with salted egg yolk is her favorite.

“The salty yolk balances out the sweetness from the paste and I love a sweet and savory dessert,” says Cho.

Ultimately, Cho says she hopes the book will expand people’s definition of baking, even if they didn’t go to a Chinese bakery growing up.

“I hope these recipes and stories inspire them to bake with new flavors and seek out their closest baked bun,” she says.

“And for readers who grew up visiting these bakeries and cafes, I hope they feel nostalgia and a sense of comfort throughout the pages. I keep saying this is the cookbook I wish I had when I grew up.” was happening.”

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Credit : www.cnn.com

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