“Mooncake and Milk Bread”: Celebrating the taste of Chinese-American bakery

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As an architecture graduate and interior designer, Cho turned to baking a few years ago when she couldn’t find satisfaction at work, and eventually founded her blog Eat Cho Food.

Her grandparents moved from Hong Kong to Cleveland in the late 1960s. Cho’s favorite childhood memories include traveling to Chinese bakeries across the United States, where she would eat egg tarts and hot dog buns.

“I rarely see the recipes of my favorite Chinese bakery in books or on the Internet. When it comes to the baked goods that I liked in childhood, I feel that there is a gap in the field of baked recipes,” Cho told.

“I soon started sharing my own recipes for red bean swirl buns and hot dog flower buns. The hot dog buns have received overwhelming positive and personal reactions from my followers and readers. I think it’s because they are so nostalgic… … Another reason why almost everyone likes hot dogs.”

“Moon Cake Milk Bread” introduces Chinese baking to readers.

Christina Zhao

This response inspired Cho to write a cookbook that introduced traditional baked goods from Chinese American bakeries.

“Chinese bakeries originated in Hong Kong and are heavily influenced by British culture, which is why you will find a lot of custard, sponge cakes and shortcrust pastries in Chinese bakeries,” Zhao said.

“Over the years, bakers have adjusted their recipes and tastes to cater to more Asian tastes, who like sweets that are not too sweet.”

In addition to recipes, Cho’s book also includes stories about iconic Chinese bakeries across the United States, such as Fay Da Bakery in New York City, Eastern Bakery in San Francisco, and Phoenix Bakery in Los Angeles.

“Chinese baking is an aspect of Chinese and Asian culture that has not been really talked about yet, and I am very happy to have the opportunity to explore it,” she explained.

“Chinese bakeries are more than just a place to buy your favorite buns or birthday sponge cakes. For many people, these bakeries are community centers, connecting them to their homeland and traditions.”

Mother of all things: milk bread

When asked to emphasize the uniqueness of Chinese baked goods, Cho singled out milk bread, or in her words, “the mother of all things.”

“The first thing I thought about was the very soft texture of toast,” she said.

“Most of the baked bread in Chinese bakeries uses milk bread dough, which is a bread dough rich in butter, eggs, and milk. The ingredients and fillings for each bread are simply endless. Pork floss, spring onion, tuna salad, Matcha custard, mango sauce and red bean paste have all appeared.

“This kind of bread is very similar to brioche or salad, but it is actually how the baker incorporates these flavors and ingredients into the bread, which makes the bread of the Chinese bakery unique.”

Cho’s book focuses on Cantonese baked goods, such as cocktail buns and egg tarts, but also covers recipes from other regions, such as savory scallion pancakes. Even matcha and hojicha cream puffs are special.

“I also want to show that Chinese baking has so much diversity and cultural influence,” said the author.

“Depending on the bakery and where the owner or baker is from in China, you may find more flatbreads or buns filled with delicious fillings instead of sponge cakes decorated with shiny fruits.”

Define moon cakes

Mooncakes are a symbol of the Mid-Autumn Festival and another classic delicacy in Zhao’s book title. It is a good example of how Chinese baked goods have evolved and accepted different cultures.

“Many people associate Cantonese mooncakes with the platonic ideals of mooncakes, but this is not necessarily true. Each region in China has its own style,” Zhao explained.

“Some are thin shells made by laminating dough and fat, and some are meat rather than sweet paste.”

Nowadays, mooncakes are stuffed with everything from ice cream to custard, and some bold chefs even offer mooncakes Wellington with beef tenderloin.

For Cho, moon cake should not be defined by its shape and form, but by the way it is eaten.

updatednews24 talked with celebrity chef Maria Cordero about moon cakes, a treat during the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival. Please note-they are full of flavor, but also full of calories!

“I like all moon cakes because they represent a moment that allows us to focus on unity and actively look forward to the future. Moon cakes are usually round, symbolizing the moon and unity,” she said.

“So for me, mooncakes can be in any shape, but the fillings are delicious and decadent, and are meant to be shared with relatives.”

Her favorite is salted egg yolk moon cakes.

“Salted egg yolk balances the sweetness of the paste, and I like sweet and salty desserts,” Cho said.

In the end, Cho said she hopes this book will expand people’s definition of baking, even if they didn’t grow up in a Chinese bakery.

“I hope these recipes and stories will inspire them to bake with new flavors and find the toast that is closest to them,” she said.

“For those readers who grew up in these bakeries and cafes, I hope they can feel nostalgia and comfort throughout the page. I always say this is the recipe I want to have when I grow up.”

If you like to travel and want to see other options go to travel news

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