If you ever thought to yourself that the mooncake you popped into your mouth must have been hand-crafted to perfection by an elderly woman wearing a hairnet while sitting on a stool having dedicated the past five decades mastering the artisanal art of putting fillings into dough and kneading them painstakingly by hand as she protects the fire of this dying trade from extinguishing in this era of instant gratification, look away now.
Because Lao Zi Hao is a mooncake producer located in Aljunied. The six-year-old business is single-handedly responsible for churning out 650,000 mooncakes a year for restaurants and hotels across Singapore.
And the one you put in your mouth from that fancy shmancy box? It is, more likely than not, made by them.
Not that there is anything wrong with making mooncakes the 21st century way by applying copious amounts of automation and precision engineering.
According to the video produced by Michelin Guide Singapore, the finesse involved in the mooncake-making process is as painstakingly detailed and artisanal as it can get.
For example, the salted egg yolks are still carefully removed one-by-one by hand, plenty of manpower is needed to prepare the raw ingredients and the chefs need to experiment with new flavour offerings and human judgement is required more than ever with mooncake tastes and annual trends changing faster than the weather.
Moreover, mooncakes have a fixed weight and size. For example, each mooncake weighs 187.5g a piece for a box of four. And each mooncake consists of 25g of thin crust.
For a machine to create the same product with the same consistency while incorporating different ingredients? That's an engineering feat.
Moreover, the dedication to the task at hand is a labour of love, as every year in late August, some 20,000 mooncakes are made daily in the lead-up to the Mid-Autumn Festival by workers who start the day at 4am.
Lesson learnt: It is easier to outsource to a manufacturer with economies of scale as it is more convenient for external mooncake makers to supply enough mooncakes to meet Singaporeans' insatiable demand.
Top photo via Michelin Guide Singapore video