Thursday, February 28, 2013

Egg Rolls Part 3: Recipe for Handmade Sweet Flaky Egg Rolls (手工蛋卷)

As you may have gathered from my previous posts, I have a slight obsession with eggs.  I am also into snacks from Hong Kong. Given that I have already tried making egg tarts (蛋撻 daan taat), and you need a special waffle iron which I do not have to make eggettes (雞蛋仔 gai daan zai), it was only natural that I give egg rolls (蛋卷 daan gyun) a go. [Added 31May 2014: I have now purchased an eggette mould and you can read about it in my latest post.]

My first attempt at making egg rolls at home.
Finding a recipe to use was a real mission, as the ones that appeared in search results were generally for American Chinese egg rolls, or what I would call spring rolls (春捲 ceon gyun).  When I eventually did come across some, it turned out they were very similar to ice cream cone recipes, even though in my mind, the two are nothing alike.  Aside from the obvious shape difference, egg rolls are always pale yellow rather than golden brown, and their texture is more delicate than that of ice cream cones, which I consider harder and chewier.  Good egg rolls fall apart at the slightest little jolt.

My next problem was working out how to make them a uniform thinness, without a waffle iron, sandwich press, egg roll machine, or anything of the sort.  I found a blog where the egg rolls were simply cooked in a frying pan, after being spread with the back of a spoon, but the final product had an uneven colouring which I did not want to repeat.  In the end, I took inspiration from Monica's blog [added 9 Feb 2014: broken link to removed], and made do with a frying pan and a saucepan to flatten my dough between.

Dough in frying pan, after I flattened it with the base of a saucepan.
While professionals use metal rods to wrap the egg rolls around, you can apparently simply use a chopstick. I chose to use the handle of a wooden spoon, which made for a thicker and rounder shape.  I also hoped the wood would draw the heat less quickly from my creations, thereby giving me more time to mould them before they set.

Wrapping an egg roll around the handle of a wooden spoon.  This one was a bit undercooked, as you can see the edges are still moist.
I had plenty of failures, of course.  Some rolls were too thick, did not cook through, and turned out more like crepes.  Some were too thin, and became brittle before I could bend them.  Some were simply cooked too long, and became a deep golden brown.  In fact, the majority of my egg rolls were failures, though they still tasted good.  Part of the problem, I think, was that I had to lift the circles out of the frying pan and put them onto my chopping board for rolling.  What you want is to roll them on the hot surface, so that they don't solidify so quickly.

Pile of rejects.  The sheets at the top set before I could roll them.  The rolls at the bottom were undercooked and did not set.  Hiding underneath all of these are the golden brown, "burnt" ones.
Once made, you have to keep your egg rolls in an airtight container.  Even the very thin, very crispy ones I created became soft after only a couple of hours when left out.  The thicker ones were easier to roll, because they did not cool down so quickly, but it was also difficult to draw all the moisture out of them to turn them crunchy.  Next time I might cheat, and put those ones in the oven afterwards to dry out.  I might even add a little baking powder, to see if that would help with the texture.

The thicker egg rolls were easier to roll.
Although far from perfect, I was pretty happy with how my egg rolls turned out, considering it was my first attempt and I only had makeshift equipment.  Here is how you can have a go too.

Handmade Egg Rolls (手工蛋卷)
Adapted from NTD Culinary, December 2009

Makes more or less 40 egg rolls, depending on size.

100g butter
100g icing sugar
4 eggs
1/8 tsp vanilla essence
100g plain flour

Extra Equipment
  • Egg roll press, or substitute (in my case, two pans from the kitchen)
  • Shaping rod, or substitute (such as a chopstick or handle of a wooden spoon)
  • Cooling rack, or substitute (such as chopsticks arranged over a plate)
  • Cotton gloves (optional, so you don't burn your fingers when rolling)
  1. Cream butter and sugar until nearly white (use your electric egg beater if you have one).
  2. Beat in whole eggs, one at a time.
  3. Add vanilla essence and mix.
  4. Sift flour and stir through gently.
  5. Let mixture rest for 15 minutes.
  6. Heat egg roll maker or pans on low, and wipe/spray cooking surfaces with a thin layer of oil (you only need this so the first batch does not stick).
  7. Place a tablespoon of mixture into the centre and press (if using a larger rectangular machine, you can put two dollops about 10cm apart, as per the videos in my previous post).  If using a cast-iron mould over a gas burner, cook for 30 seconds on each side.  It'll take some experimentation to work out the optimal thickness and cooking time.
  8. Roll the disc up around your shaping rod, wait a couple of seconds for your egg roll to cool down and set, then transfer it to your cooling rack.
  9. Repeat with the rest of the batter.
  10. Once cool, store egg rolls in an airtight container.

Posts in this series

This post is part of Our Growing Edge, a monthly blogging event aimed at inspiring us to try new things.


  1. I've been looking for a recipe that doesn't use specialist equipment - will be giving this a go for sure! Did you think about using a large metal tray over the cooker instead of a frying pan? May give more room to roll whilst still on the hot surface?

    1. I used my frying pan because it is made of cast iron and distributes the heat more evenly than my thin baking tray. Now that I have a gas cooktop I would consider using my frying pan upside down so that the sides of the pan aren't in the way of rolling. On the other hand, I probably wouldn't do it because the bottom of my pan is really dirty, and it is not completely flat (it has the maker's stamp on it). Your metal tray could work if you could make it heat evenly, maybe by using it with something like a pizza stone? Let me know how it goes!

    2. Pizza stone is a good call! I've got a gas cooktop so a tray or pizza stone would work. Need to investigate if the tray will distribute heat evenly first - but will keep you updated when I have a go :)

  2. I've looked for this recipe for ages on line and like you I could only keep finding the springroll recipes. Thank you so much for posting this. I'm thinking of making it next weekend and see how I go.

    1. Glad to be of help! Do let me know how it goes for you.

  3. Thank you so much for your post. I definitely need to experiment and practice more to get the hang of it but I'm really happy that the flavour is spot on the way I remembered it to be.

    1. Yay - glad to hear it (mostly) worked out for you!

  4. Hi there, 2 yrs on and have you found any cast iron presses? I can't find them anywhere in Asian grocery or supply stores in Wgtn. I want this mans one -

    They are so moorish I could eat 30 in one sitting!

    1. Unfortunately, I don't live in Wellington, and I haven't been looking since I was pretty happy with the result even without using a press. I think you did the right thing checking out Asian grocery stores and searching online... sorry I can't help much! I now have a FISH brand eggette mould, and like Simon in the video, I bought it in Hong Kong. You could try getting similar equipment like a tortilla press instead?

  5. Would a sandwich press work? Like the ones cafes use to toast sandwiches, i.e. not a jaffle maker. Not sure what temperatures those things run at but it would be cheaper and easier than using two pans or buying specialised equipment.

    1. I've never had a sandwich press before, but my questions would be:
      1) can it heat at low enough a temperature that you don't get browning?
      2) would the top and bottom plates come together to almost touching, and stay parallel to each other?

    2. Hi again Nom Nom, I've got a really cheap sandwich press from KMart and the plates do touch each other when it's closed, that's why I thought it might be good for making these, but I'm not sure about the temperature. Perhaps if someone has a more fancy one that has a temperature control on it they could try it out. I so want to give these a go!

    3. You could always just give it a go anyway, and if it doesn't work, switch to pressing them between two pans as I did!


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