Plant-Based Mooncakes for the Mid-Autumn Festival

Celebrating a 3,000-Year-Old Tradition in the Time of Climate Change

By Annie Wang


Photos by Annie Wang


Three-thousand years have passed since the time of the Shang Dynasty when the Mid-Autumn Festival began. Through the millennia, people all over East Asia and throughout the Chinese diaspora have celebrated the Mid-Autumn Festival on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month (this year on September 29). It’s a holiday when families come together to reconnect, light red lanterns, and gaze at the moon. Mooncakes are always part of the celebration, often given to families, friends, employers, employees, and clients as gifts.

The mooncake holds both historical significance and a beautiful legend. One story gives mooncakes a key role in overthrowing the Mongol Yuan Dynasty in the 14th century as plans for rebellion were hidden inside the cakes, which were exchanged to spread the word. Another story designates the mooncake as a way to honor Chang’e, the moon goddess, who was fated to endure her immortality on the moon.

These traditional Chinese baked pastries are made with a flour crust that’s stuffed with different sweet and savory flavors and fillings, from red bean to green tea. A mooncake filled with lotus paste and a salted egg yolk in its center is always a favorite.

Like other traditional snacks and desserts I grew up eating, this dense, delicious pastry is a window into traditions that span my family for generations. But as my commitment to climate action and environmental protection grew alongside my passion for baking, I had to come to terms with the mooncake, which is most often made using animal products. My baking business, Annie’s T Cakes, has become a way to share these culturally significant snacks with other folks who stay away from animal products. Creating a plant-based version of the lotus paste mooncake with salted egg yolk led me through many experiments, but I finally found that a concoction of potato with a combination of spices could be made into a lovely and tasty yolk, and it has meant that many of us can once again participate in food traditions we grew up with.

𝐒𝐩𝐞𝐜𝐢𝐚𝐥𝐭𝐲 𝐌𝐨𝐨𝐧𝐜𝐚𝐤𝐞 𝐅𝐥𝐚𝐯𝐨𝐫𝐬⁠

Lotus Paste with a Vegan Salted Egg Yolk⁠
Red bean with a Vegan Salted Egg Yolk⁠
Jasmine Tea with Candied Lemon⁠
Black Sesame Mooncake with White Chocolate Chips⁠
⁠Matcha with Candied Strawberry⁠
Hojicha Mooncake with White Chocolate Chips⁠

Pre-order here for Annie’s T Cakes Mid Autumn Specialty Mooncake Box through September 22. There are pick-up locations in Oakland, Berkeley, San Francisco, Los Gatos, and Cupertino. Shipping is available throughout California. There are both 4-mooncake and 6-mooncake box options.