How sacred cake for worship in Hanoi is made
The Hanoitimes - Oan is an indispensable offering on the altar of many Vietnamese families and temples on special occasions.
In Hanoi, among the bakeries who make Oan, truncated-cone-shaped cakes, Tinh Ngoc cake is the most famous brand, inheriting the tradition of Dong Thinh confectionery shop since 1954.
Dong Thinh confectionery is owned by the family of Dao Thi Loan, 80 years old, and the inheritor is now Loan’s eldest daughter who is living at 324 Thuy Khue street, Tay Ho district, with more than 60 years of experience in making Oan.
This family business has undergone many upheavals in its 60-year history. It was first merged into a state-owned confectionery cooperative, then split off and registered the Tinh Ngoc brand for the reinstated business. Withstanding the passage of time, the quality and appearance of the Oan cakes made by this family have not changed.
The first step of making Oan is to boil a syrup made of white sugar and water and then cool it down. The syrup is then mixed with grapefruit flower oil and vanilla, boiled again until the sugar mixture crystallizes and gets a milky white color.
The sugar mixture is then blended with glutinous rice flour. The proportion of sugar mixture to be blended with glutinous rice flour remains a secret kept among the family members. Depending on the weather, the artisans adjust the content of ingredients to obtain the products which fits their standards of quality.
Moulds for making Oan are often made from wood and there are about 10 different sizes of moulds. After being taken out from the mould, pieces of Oan are firm. Then, they are wrapped in colorful cellophane with a gold label on the top.
Each cast is engraved with the dragon and phoenix dance motifs, meaning reverence and holiness, and expressing the quintessence of ancient Hanoi.
Loan’s family also makes large-size Oan with finicky decoration, for Buddhist worshiping. Tinh Ngoc Oan can keep delicious taste for a month.
When registering the product’s trademark, Loan took the name “Tinh Ngoc”, meaning “pure and beautiful”.
Tinh Ngoc Oan is offered in most of temples and pagodas in the North, proving the reputation of a Hanoi’s delicacy.
Photos: Hoai Giang (Kinh te & Do thi)
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