Cantonese mooncake with salted egg yolk (广式月饼)

Beautiful in appearance and sophisticated in taste, Cantonese mooncake with salted egg yolk & lotus seed paste is a delectable festive treat worth the effort.

It’s true that all Chinese festivals are associated with one (or more) particular types of food. To welcome the upcoming Mid-Autumn Festival (Moon festival, 中秋节), I’m sharing my recipe of Cantonese mooncakes filled with salted egg yolks and lotus seed paste (蛋黄莲蓉月饼). It’s a delicate festive treat which stands out for its beautiful appearance and its sophisticated taste. Compared to the Snow Skin Mooncakes that I shared previously, this recipe involves more time and effort. But the result is definitely rewarding!

I have to admit that I wasn’t a big fan of Cantonese mooncake when I was young. The main problem was that the filling was always far too sweet (and often too oily) for my liking. Since I started making my own mooncakes (about 5 years ago), this delicacy has become one of my favourite Chinese snacks.

Lotus seed paste

Homemade lotus seed paste has two great advantages: There is no additives/preservatives; You can adjust its sweetness to your liking. It‘s not difficult to make. All you need is some time and a little patience. Here are a few tips:

  • Soak dried lotus seeds long enough (overnight preferably) to reduce the boiling time. 
  • Drain cooked seeds before you put them into a food processor. This will shorten the frying process later on. If you find it difficult to blend, add a little water to help.
  • When frying, you need to constantly stir/flip the paste otherwise you might end up with a burnt taste. Non-stick pan helps a lot for the process.
  • The finished paste should be quite dry and easily foldable into a solid block. Wet paste would make assembly very challenging. It also causes excess steam during baking thus affecting the look of the mooncakes.

Salted egg yolks

It’s not unusual to find classic Chinese dishes wonderfully combining the taste of sweetness and saltiness. Cantonese mooncakes filled with sweet paste and salted egg yolk are a great example. Aromatic, savoury in taste, powdery in texture, salted egg yolks bring Cantonese style mooncakes to another level.

I usually make small-sized mooncakes (about 50 grams each) which hold one whole egg yolk inside. You may use half of a yolk and a little more lotus seed paste if prefer. If your mooncake mould makes the traditional size (100g each), you can place two yolks to make it extra “luxurious”. 

Prepare the yolks yourself

You may purchase ready-to-use salted egg yolks which often come in airtight plastic bags. Alternatively you can use raw salted duck eggs and cook the yolks yourself. Here are two methods:

  • Boiling method: Start cooking the eggs in cold water. Once the water begins to boil, turn the heat down and simmer for 6 minutes. Rinse under cold water then peel off the shell and egg white as soon as cool enough to touch.
  • Baking method: Crack the shell of a raw salted egg. Remove the hardened yolk. Wash off the membrane around it. Place on a baking tray then spray with Baijiu (a type of strong Chinese liquor). Bake in the oven preheated to 190°C / 375°F until you see a ring of bubbles appear around the bottom of the yolks (it takes about 8 minutes).

Lye water

Essential to Cantonese mooncake, lye water (Kansui/枧水) is a food grade potassium carbonate solution used to raise the PH of the dough (neutrolize the acid in the syrup). Moreover it helps the dough to gain an appetizing brown colour after baking and a fluffy tender texture. However, please follow the recipe and do not increase its volume as this will result in a bitter dough.

Invert syrup / golden syrup

Traditional Cantonese mooncake recipe calls for a particular sugary ingredients for the dough: invert syrup (inverted sugar syrup/转化糖浆).

“Invert syrup is an edible mixture of two simple sugars—glucose and fructose—that is made by heating sucrose (table sugar) with water. It is thought to be sweeter than table sugar, and foods that contain it retain moisture and crystallize less easily.”     —Wikipedia

Through recipe testing, I found out that shop bought golden syrup works for my recipe too. The dough tends to be a little stickier than the one made with invert syrup. So you may need to dust a little extra cornstarch when handling the dough and moulding the mooncakes.

Some people use honey as substitute. It works, but the dough tears very easily making assembly quite challenging.

Dough filling ratio

Once you have all the parts (lotus seed paste, egg yolks, dough) ready, you will need to use a scale to measure for each cake. The dough filling ratio varies depending on personal preferences. It can be 2:8, 3:7 or 4:6. I always enjoy the taste of the dough so my recipe goes for 4:6 ratio. That means for a 50g mooncake, the dough weighs 20g and the total weight of lotus seed paste & egg yolk should be 30g.

Please feel free to adjust the ratio. However, if you are new to making mooncakes, I suggest you start with the 4:6 ratio as it’s easier to assemble with a little extra dough.

Check out my video instruction (scroll down) to see how I wrap the egg yolk with lotus seed paste first, then wrap the filling with the dough to finish.

Mooncake moulds

These are the mooncake moulds that I purchased in China. You can find them on mainstream online shopping platforms such as eBay, Amazon, etc。 and in some Chinese/Asian stores. These modern moulds usually come with several plates in different designs. They are very easy to use, making moulding a quick & neat job. Please refer to my video below.

Baking procedures

It takes three steps to bake mooncakes:

  1. Bake at 190°C / 375°F for 5 minutes to harden the delicate top of the mooncakes. This will make egg wash brushing easy.
  2. Reduce the heat to 160°C / 320°F then bake for a further 5 minutes. Brush another layer of egg wash on top.
  3. Put the mooncakes back to the oven. The last baking process takes another 10-15 minutes. I suggest you check at 10 minutes. They are done once evenly brown.

Serve & storage

Freshly baked mooncakes are quite dry to touch. Once completely cooled, you are advised to store them in an airtight container for at least 1-2 days before consuming. During the resting period, mooncakes become softer and gain a nice shiny apperance. Chineses call this process Hui you/回油, meaning “the return of oil”.

You may keep the mooncakes in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Bright back to room temperature prior to serving.


Cantonese mooncake with salted egg yolk (广式月饼)
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Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 2 hours

Total Time: 3 hours

Yield: Make 20 mooncakes (50g each)

Cantonese mooncake with salted egg yolk (广式月饼)

Beautiful in appearance and sophisticated in taste, Cantonese mooncake with salted egg yolk & lotus seed paste is a delectable festive treat worth the effort.


    For the lotus seed paste:
  • 120g dried lotus seeds
  • 90g sugar (or to taste)
  • 70g sunflower oil (or peanut oil, rapeseed oil, etc)
    For the dough:
  • 150g invert syrup (or golden syrup)
  • 50g sunflower oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon lye water
  • 220g all purpose flour
  • Cornstarch, for dusting
    For the egg wash
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon water
    You also need:
  • 10-20 salted egg yolks (see note 1)


  1. Make the lotus seed paste: Soak dried lotus seeds in water overnight. Drain and remove the green centre (if any). Boil in fresh water (enough to cover) until soft (about 30-40 minutes). Drain, then puree in a food processor (add a little water if necessary). Transfer the puree into a non-stick pan. Cook over a medium heat. Add sugar and oil in batches. Stir and flip constantly. Once the paste becomes dry and holds in shape, remove to cool (see note 2 & 3).
  2. Make the dough: Mix syrup, oil and lye water until well incorporated. Add flour (see note 4). Knead briefly until combined. Cover and rest for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Assembly: Put one egg yolk (or 1/2 yolk) and some lotus seed paste on the scale. Adjust the paste to reach 30g. Flatten the paste into a round wrapper. Place the egg yolk in the middle. Gently push the paste upwards to seal completely. Flatten 20g of the dough into a wrapper. Use the same method to tightly wrap around the filling and make a ball (Please refer to the video above).
  4. Moulding: Coat the ball with a thin layer of cornstarch. Put it into a mooncake mould. Place on a baking tray (lined with parchment paper if necessary). Gently press to shape (see note 5).
  5. Baking: Preheat the oven to 190°C / 375°F. Bake the cakes for 5 minutes (Meanwhile, mix the egg wash). Reduce the temperature to 160°C / 320°F. Take the mooncakes out and brush the top with a thin layer of egg wash(see note 6). Put back into the oven and bake for a further 5 minutes. Remove and brush with another layer of egg wash. Then continue to bake for 10-15 minutes until evenly brown.
  6. Serving: Once completely cooled, store the mooncakes in an airtight container for at least 1-2 days. They are ready to be served when they become soft to touch and appear shiny . You may keep them in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Bring back to room temperature prior to serving.


1. For small mooncakes (50g each), I usually put one whole egg yolk inside. You may use half of a yolk and a little more lotus seed paste if you prefer. If your mooncake mould makes the traditional size (100g each), you can place two yolks to make it extra “luxurious ”.

2. This recipe makes about 400g of lotus seed paste. You will have some leftover if you use a whole salted egg yolk in each mooncake. You may freeze it for later use.

3. Filling substitutes: Lotus seed paste and salted egg yolk is a classic filling combination. However, please feel free to replace with other sweet paste, eg. red bean, chestnut, black sesame seed, etc.

4. The amount of flour needed may vary depending on the thickness of the syrup and the absorbent nature of the flour. Adjust accordingly.

5. Mooncake moulds: I bought my easy-to-use plastic mooncake moulds in China. They are also available on mainstream online shopping platforms (eBay, Amazon, etc.) and in some Chinese/Asian stores.

6. A tip on egg wash: To avoid leaving too much egg wash on the patterned surface: Dip the brush in the egg wash. Before you brush over the mooncakes, remove any excess liquid by pressing the brush on the rim of the bowl.

A delicate, delectable treat for celebrating Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival, snow skin mooncake with custard filling delivers enchanting texture and flavour.

▲ Another recipe: No-bake snow skin mooncake with custard filling

A piece of homemade mooncake to eat, a cup of Chinese tea to drink, a beautiful full moon to admire and some moon related fairytales to share with my children, for me, this would be a perfect Mid-Autumn Festival as I live far away from my family in China. I hope this detailed post has inspired you to make some mooncakes for your loved ones for this special occasion. 

Wish you all a very happy “Mooncake Day”!


An enthusiastic cook with a Chinese palate and a global mindset.

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