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Chinese Shortbread Recipe Trials

Over the last few years, I was asked a few times for information on the origin of mooncakes .  Alas, they don't seem to show up in recipe books as such until quite recently.  There's enough evidence to point to them being wrapped in a shortbread-style dough, and indeed modern recipes are as well, usually a combination of flour, sugar syrup, a fat, and sometimes a small amount of alkali. We do have some shortbread recipes.  Qimin Yaoshu (544 CE, northern Wei) has one: 髓餅法:To Make Marrow Cakes 以髓脂、蜜,合和麵。 Take marrow fat, honey, and mix with flour. 厚四五分,廣六七寸。 Make them four or five fen [9.7-12.1 mm] thick, and six or seven inches [14.5-16.9 cm] wide. 便著胡餅鑪中,令熟。 When ready, put in a western-barbarian cake oven until cooked. 勿令反覆。 Do not flip. 餅肥美,可經久。 If the fat is good, they will keep a long time. "Western-barbarian" refers vaguely to Central Asia, Parthia, and Persia.  This is probably a covered ceramic device that goes over a heat source, perhaps similar to a Roman cli

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