It started out as a way to reduce food waste. “I was looking into what to do with leftover mooncake skins,” explains Annie Wang, who runs the vegan home bakery Annie's T Cakes out of her Uptown Oakland apartment.
The answer, Wang discovered, was mooncake biscuits. According to Chinese custom, bakers would put a small portion of mooncake dough in the oven to test its temperature. Eventually, they started forming these test batches into the shape of little pigs and selling them as a standalone item—an inexpensive alternative to the mooncakes proper, minus their luxurious lotus seed and salted egg yolk fillings. Kids, in particular, love the biscuits, which Wang describes as being akin to a flaky, not-too-sweet cookie.
In Hong Kong, Malaysia and elsewhere in the Chinese diaspora, mooncake biscuits are a common sighting during the Mid-Autumn Festival (which typically falls in September or October). But this year Wang decided to feature them in her Lunar New Year snack box—just released for preorder—in part because the biscuits are such a rarity in the Bay Area.
The Lunar New Year boxes ($30), which also include almond cookies and the more typical filled varieties of mooncake, will be available for pickup in Oakland from Jan. 27–Feb. 1.
All of the baked treats are 100 percent vegan, in keeping with the bakery’s overall mission to veganize traditional East Asian sweets. Armed with a cottage food license and an arsenal of plant-based egg and dairy substitutes, Wang says she hopes efforts like hers will help create a better, more sustainable food system.
As it did for so many other Americans, the pandemic brought Wang face to face with the hard realization that “a full-time job is not necessarily as stable as we thought.” When she was laid off from her marketing job in May of 2020, she dove headfirst into her passion for food tech and vegan baking, spending the better part of the year on recipe development.