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Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year
Beetroot Mooli Croissant Cake
Ahead of the Chinese New Year of the Wood Horse celebrity chef Ching-He Huang shares her unique dish, inspired by her recent trip to Hong Kong.
"For me Chinese New Year is one of the most special Chinese traditions due to the focus on the Four big ‘Fs’, Family & Friends, Fireworks and last but not least, Food! I try to spend Chinese New Year with my nearest and dearest so I like to prepare an array of special Chinese New Year themed dishes to feed visiting loved ones.
Inspired by my recent trip to Hong Kong, I wanted to create a modern dim sum dish for Chinese New Year this year. This is a very pretty savoury dish that is perfect for welcoming in the “Spring Festival”. They make a great snack gift to family and friends and are a wonderful alternative to baking almond cookies, making turnip cakes, or sticky rice cakes (which are the usual Chinese New Year treats). Savoury-sweet in flavour these mooli filled “cakes” are aromatic and perfect with a cup of Jasmine flower tea."
MAKES: 10 cakes  
PREP TIME: around 4 hours drying mooli + 30 minutes proving/resting time  
COOK TIME: 30 minutes
160g plain flour, sieved
6 drops of natural beetroot colouring
25g icing sugar
35g groundnut oil
80ml water
150g fine cake flour, sieved (use plain flour if fine cake flour is not available)
50g melted butter
4 tablespoons groundnut oil
1 tablespoon water
For the Filling
750g mooli (white turnip) washed and peeled
3 dried shitake mushrooms, soaked in warm water for 20 minutes then squeezed dry and finely chopped
1 tablespoon dried shrimps, soaked and finely
Chinese New Year
Ching-He Huang
2 Chinese shallots, skinned and finely chopped
1/2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon cracked sea salt
1/2 tablespoon caster sugar
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
1. For the filling: roughly grate the mooli. Add 1/2 tsp of salt, mix well then leave aside for 2-3 hours.
2. Squeeze out the juice from the mooli with your hands then spread evenly on a baking tray.
3. Leave the mooli to oven dry in an oven preset at 50°c for 30 minutes. (The mooli should be turned halfway through the drying time to ensure even drying).
4. In a wok over a medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of groundnut oil. Stir-fry the shallots and the dried shrimps for 1 minute. Add the shitake mushrooms and the oven-dried mooli.
5. Add the seasoning and mix well. Remove from heat. Leave to one side.
6. Prepare the flaky pastry by combining 160g of plain flour, 25g of icing sugar, 35g of groundnut oil and 80ml of water. Knead with your fingers for 5-6 minutes until the dough is smooth. Cover with cling film and leave to rest for 30-40 minutes.
7. For extra flakiness, combine the 150g fine cake flour, the melted butter, 4 tablespoons of groundnut oil and 1 tablespoon of water in a bowl. Mix all the ingredients into a smooth dough but do not knead. Cover with cling film and leave to rest in the fridge.
8. Knead 6 drops of beetroot colouring into the flaky pastry (from step 6 above) then divide into 5 equal parts of around 60g each. (6 drops of beetroot colouring should give a subtle pink colour to the pastry. If a deeper pink is desired, add 2 extra drops). Roll into round balls then slightly flatten with a rolling pin. Roll the flattened dough into a round sheet of around 10cm.
9. Take the extra flaky dough (from step 7 above) from the fridge and divide into 5 equal parts of around 40g each. Roll into round balls. Place 1 of the flaky dough ball in the centre of the flattened flaky pastry (in step 8). Gather the ends to completely wrap the flaky dough.
10. Using a rolling pin, flatten the filled flaky pastry into an oblong shape, then using your fingers, roll the flaky pastry back towards you into a dough shape. This is like rolling a swiss roll.
11. Keeping the edge at the bottom, covered with a towel, rest for 15 minutes. Repeat with the remaining 4 flaky dough sheets and extra flaky dough balls.
12. Using a rolling pin, roll the rested flaky pastry into a flattened oblong shape. Turn the flattened dough over so that the top side is now facing the work top. Using your fingers, roll the pastry back into an oblong shaped dough. Cover with a towel and leave to rest for another 15 minutes. Repeat with the other 4 doughs.
13. Using a knife, cut the rolled dough across the middle into two. Repeat with the remaining 4 rolled doughs so that you have 10 cut pieces in total.
14. Take 1 cut piece of dough over so that the cut end is facing the work top. Flatten the dough with your palm and using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a round sheet of around 10 cm in diameter.
15. Place 1 tablespoon of the mooli filling in the middle of the round pastry.
16. Gather the ends towards the middle, pinch to completely wrap the filling. Roll the filled dough around your palm to shape it into a round ball.
17. Keeping the gathered ends at the bottom, place the filled cake ball spaced out on a baking tray. Repeat steps 14-17 to make 10 cakes.
18. Bake the mooli cakes in a preheated oven, gas mark 170°c for 25-27 minutes, until the pastry is cooked and flakes giving a subtle floral pattern on the top. Serve with Jasmine tea.
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30 January 2014
By: Ching He Huang
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