Kristina Cho’s Mooncakes and Milk Bread is a spectacular cookbook. It has gorgeous photography, clearly explained recipes, and threads that tie her upbringing in Cleveland, Ohio to the greater Chinese diaspora.
Cho grew up in her family’s Chinese restaurants. Initially, she wanted to be a chef, like her grandfather, but instead studied architecture, eventually creating a food blog as a release for her love of cooking. Mooncakes and Milk Bread works as an introduction to Chinese baking (and steaming and pan frying). She clearly explains ingredients, techniques and methodologies so that an interested learner doesn’t feel lost in the unfamiliar. She provides some foundational recipes like the Mother of All Milk Bread Dough and then riffs off of them throughout the book, in ways that make me feel like I could take that basic recipe and apply my own creativity.
There are so many bun recipes in this book. steamed buns, baked buns, plain buns, sweet buns and savory buns. Some buns are traditional (Pineapple Buns and Char Sui Bao), use traditional Chinese ingredients in in non traditional forms (Milk Bread Donuts with Salted Egg Yolk Cream), or incorporate other American ingredients into traditional bun styles (After School PB&J Buns and Thanksgiving Leftovers Gua Boa).
I became absorbed in the bun recipes, but the book is stuffed with cakes, pastries, tarts, cookies (no fortune cookies), dumplings, and breakfast. I loved that Cho showed how to make a variety of mooncakes, including how to makes some adorably shamed mooncakes without a mooncake mold.
My only frustration was that I wasn’t able to test recipes. A combination of health issues and work demands ruled out a trek to the store and playing with recipes. I can’t wait to get my hands on a paper copy and my self into the H-Mart.
Thank you to NetGalley and Harper Horizon for the advance reader copy. My opinions are my own.