When I was still at school, my mother baked for the local “tuisnywerheid” (home industry bakery) for many years. She supplied them with a range of buttermilk rusks, but her absolute hero product was magnificent “mosbolletjies”.The best way to describe mosbolletjies is that it’s a sweet brioche, traditionally made with fermented grape juice (these days we just use normal grape juice) and flavoured with aniseed. The texture is feathery and there is just nothing on earth like a torn piece of mosbolletjie with thickly spread butter and golden syrup.
We were very spoiled to be casually eating freshly baked mosbolletjies almost every single day, when others queued at the “tuisnywerheid” early in the morning to get their hands on a warm loaf. My mother baked huge batches of large loaves, her oven brimming with the beautifully golden rounds of dough.
My mother has been very ill over the last few weeks, and I wish I could have brought her these mosbolletjies today. Get better soon Ma! I love you very much and we’ll visit you soon!
1 kg cake flour
10 ml salt
100 g sugar
10 g instant dry yeast
30 ml whole aniseed
250 ml white grape juice
125 ml lukewarm milk
250 ml lukewarm water
30 ml sugar mixed with 30 ml lukewarm water (sugar syrup for brushing after baking)
Sift flour and salt together. Add sugar, yeast and aniseed. Stir well.
Heat butter and grape juice in a saucepan until butter has melted. Do not boil. Add to dry ingredients along with milk and water, then mix to form a soft dough.
Turn out dough on a lightly floured surface, then knead for 5-10 minutes, or until the dough is soft and elastic. Place in a large oiled bowl, then cover and leave to rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes, or doubled in size.
Knock down dough on a floured surface, and knead until smooth. Divide into equal pieced and shape into balls (the correct technique is to squeeze balls of dough through a circle made by your thumb and forefinger, using oiled/buttered hands, this way you get nice smooth balls of dough). Pack the balls tightly into 2 loaf tins of about 22 cm each. Cover and leave to rise for about 30-45 minutes.
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees C for 35-40 minutes. Turn out onto wire racks, then brush immediately with syrup.
Leave to cool slightly, then eat warm, or break into pieces and dry out in a cool oven at 70 degrees C overnight.
While the Northern Hemisphere is stashing away thick coats and umbrellas, swopping hot chocolate for ice lollies as it gets ready for Spring time, over in South Africa we are also celebrating the concept of new life over Easter.