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Golden syrup for mooncakes

lye water mooncakes recipes sugar syrup vietnam

This amber colour syrup is essential for making mooncakes. You need to make it 2 weeks in advance but the longer the syrup matures the better flavour and colour it brings to the mooncakes. 

Recipe: Xuan Que & Photo: Lili Tu


  • 1kg sugar or brown sugar
  •  600gr water
  • 1 egg white
  • 4 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lye water + 2 teaspoons water (optional)


  1. Combine water with egg white. Stir well. Strain the mixture and pour into a saucepan.
  2. Add sugar to the water mixture. Stir until sugar dissolves. Cook the mixture on high heat and only stir before it reaches boiling point. Reduce the heat.
  3. When the mixture reaches boiling point, reduce the heat and skim the foam off the surface.
  4. Simmer for 30 minutes. Add lemon juice. Cook the syrup for 20 minutes. Mix the lye water with 2 teaspoons water.
  5. Turn the heat on and bring the syrup to the boil again. Add the lye water mixture to the syrup.
  6. Take off the heat and let the syrup cool down.
  7. Store in a clean jar, lid on. Keep the syrup for at least 2 weeks before making mooncakes.
  8. You’ll make about 850g of syrup from the recipe.

Note: Lye water is alkaline water and most food-grade lye today is sodium hydroxide. For mooncakes, lye water helps keep the baked dough soft and make it brown nicely when baked. It is okay to use lye water for cooking but you need to be very careful and store it safely.

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