Sunday, 11 September 2011

Eastern Highland Healthy Cake House

Behind every traditional festival, there is at least one legend. Celebrated by the Chinese on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month, mid-autumn festival is often associated with with the story of Hou Yi and Chang Er. It was believed that there used to be ten suns in the past. Needless to say, the Earth became unbearably hot. In order to to cool things off, the Emperor commanded Hou Yi, a skilled archer, to shoot down nine of the suns (If only Global Warming can be easily rectified this way). Let's just say Hou Yi successfully completed this task and the emperor rewarded him with the pill of immortality. For the effect to work properly, he was instructed to pray and fast for a year before taking the pill. One fine day when Hou Yi was away, his wife, Chang Er, discovered the pill he had meticulously hidden and guess what? She swallowed it! Instead of killing the cat, this curiosity sent her flying to the moon where she lived for eternity, never to return.

Neil Armstrong, the first man to step on the moon, did not mention about meeting a Chinese lady during the expedition, hence the entire Hou Yi and Chang Er episode is a myth. Nevertheless, stories as such have added richness to the Chinese culture. Tall tales aside, mid-autumn festival approximately coincided with the autumnal Equinox, when the moon appears the brightest and roundest to us. On this day, the Chinese admire the moon in its full glory under the beautiful illusion that Chang Er is still residing on it. While doing so, we snack on mooncakes, a Chinese pastry consisting of a thin a layer of skin wrapping a dense cake of sweet filling.

In the past, lard was used as the source of fat for baking mooncakes. In fact the Chinese believe that lard generally makes food more fragrant. As the population grows more health conscious these days, lard is replaced by vegetable fats, usually peanut oil, much to the delight of vegetarians. For the mooncake to be truly vegetarian, there are other stringent qualities to be met. First of all, egg glazing is omitted. Then whole salted egg yolk, which symbolized the full moon, is usually not added. Although not all vegetarians have issues with eggs, it does not hurt to be on the safe side. Therefore I was mildly surprised to find salted egg mooncakes sold at Eastern Highland Heathy Cake House, a confectionery famed for its eggless cakes.

Eastern Highland offered the two most common types of mooncakes, namely the traditional baked crust (Reddish brown ones) and the more contemporary snowskin (The colorful ones). Apart from the obvious difference that one is baked whereas the latter is served chilled, the type of flour used also varies between the two. Snowskin mooncakes do not go through the baking process, therefore fried glutinous rice flour is used for the pastry layer. All-purpose flour suffices for the traditional baked mooncakes.

The Food

Cranberry Snowskin Mooncake, S$ 2.00

Even as I was cutting the mooncakes to prepare them for the photo shooting session, I could feel their softness on the blade. The first thing I noticed was the thick pastry layer of all the moonckes. Such a property would have been disastrous for the baked version, whereby good quality is defined by a large depth of filling versus thickness of skin ratio. On snowskin mooncakes, a thick pastry layer is less of a concern because the skin usually carries a flavor of their own. It's not that baked mooncakes have tasteless crust, but rather their semi-sweet flavor is not the focal point of the food as compared to the filling.

Unlike most people, I happened to enjoy snowskin mooncakes with a thick pastry layer more, as it helped to offset the overly saccharine and somewhat caramelized lotus paste filling. What I had here were cranberry, durian and strawberry flavored snowskin mooncakes. In this type of mooncakes, the flavor referred to that of the skin. Lotus paste was used as the filling in all of them.

As expected the mooncakes were very soft, like they were freshly made. In fact I could almost feel the skin and the lotus paste blending into one entity during the chewing process. Durian was my favourite because its strong aroma harmonized well with the filling. On the contrary, the sweetness of lotus paste was so domineering that I could hardly taste the fruity flavor, if any, of the cranberry and strawberry ones.

Despite being a little disappointed with the lack of a distinct flavor from the more novel cranberry and strawberry mooncakes, I was generally satisfied with the almost melt-in-your-mouth texture of all three of them. Most vendors stopped baking new supplies as the festival drew nearer, so if you bought mooncakes at the eleventh hour like I did, most likely they were not freshly made. Thus the freshness left me impressed and blessed at the same time.


Prior to writing this post, I had tried the products from Eastern Highland more than a couple of times. Perhaps the bakery items were small relative to a complete meal, so the food always ended up in my stomach before I took the pictures. Regardless, I finally blog about this vegetarian bakery. Just like the previous times, I had enjoyed the food by Eastern Highland Healthy Cake House.

Before I end off, I would like to take this opportunity to wish all Chinese a Happy Mid-Autumn festival.

Address:1 Rochor Road, #01-51, S(180001)
Opening Hours:-
Bus Service:-
MRT Station:Bugis

1 comment:

  1. Moved.
    New Address: Blk 134 Geylang East Ave 1 #01-227 Singapore 380134
    For special order, call Mr. CHANG 曾照山 (hp) 9769 5868 (shop) 6747 5580