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Is it just us, or does Mosbolletjies also come to mind when you think about a traditional Afrikaans home in South Africa? This unique South African bread is the epitome of Afrikaaner culture and tradition. It is the “sharing tearing” bread. It’s best enjoyed with a group around the kitchen table. Pieces are torn off, smothered in butter, drizzled with golden honey, and washed down with mugs of warm tea. Some people also dry the bread buns out to create rusks that are called Mosbeskuit.

Some might say that Mosbolletjies are so uniquely South African (and Afrikaans) that there isn’t even an English word for them. So, where do they come from? As it turns out, this popular bread is from Cape Dutch aka Afrikaaner descent and is certainly a South African firm favourite. Traditionally, it is actually sweet-bun or brioche-type bread that is made with fermented grape juice and flavoured with aniseed. It’s typically made in the Western Cape wine farm areas.

The History of the Afrikaans Mosbolletjie

Who brought Mosbolletjies to South Africa? The French Huguenots who fled their country to escape religious persecution are responsible for that. They made their way to Franschoek in 1688, where they settled for safety and started teaching locals a bit about their traditions and culture too. The reason the bread is called Mosbolletjie is because of how it is made and what is used to make it. During those times, grape juice that was in the first fermentation stage was called “mos”. The French Huguenots used this as a raising agent for their dough when making their bread and buns. Nowadays yeast is used from raisins to do the very same job. The bread is therefore called “Mosbolletjie” because it is a combination of “mos” and “bolletjie” which is the Afrikaans word for “bun”.

Mosbolletjie Recipe: How to Make Mosbolletjie Bread

Many people have a taste of Mosbolletjies and immediately think that making it will be a daunting task. Just because these buns taste so soft, fluffy and delicious, it doesn’t mean that they are particularly difficult to make. Unfortunately, modern day Mosbolletjie recipes don’t feature the “mos” grape juice as this isn’t available anymore, but that doesn’t mean that the buns won’t be just as delicious as they were when they first arrived on South African shores.

We all know there are few things better than home baked goods, which is why we thought we’d give you a recipe to make your very own Mosbolletjies.

What you will need to make mosbolletjies:

  • 7 cups of flour (all purpose)
  • 2 packets of active dry yeast
  • ¼ cup of whole aniseed
  • ½ a cup of sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 8 tablespoons of butter
  • ½ cup of lukewarm milk
  • 1 cup of lukewarm water
  • 1 cup of grape juice (white)
  • ¼ cup of sugar dissolved in a ¼ cup of warm water (this is for the glazing)
  • 2 loaf tins for baking (foil tins work just as well)
  • Extra flour for dusting
  • Oil for oiling your hands
  • Oiled mixing bowl

Mosbolletjies cooking instructions:

  • Combine the flour, sugar, yeast, aniseed, and salt in a mixing bowl.
  • Heat the butter and grape juice in a pot on medium heat. The butter should just melt, not boil.
  • Add the milk and water into the butter and grape juice mixture and stir well.
  • Now add the liquid in the pot to the dry ingredients in the bowl and mix with a wooden spoon to form soft dough.
  • Place the dough on a lightly floured surface or breadboard and knead it for between 5 and 10 minutes. It is ready when it is a bit more elastic-y.
  • Grease or oil a large bowl, place the dough into the bowl, cover with cling wrap or a kitchen towel and place in a warm spot to rise for around 30 minutes. It is ready for the next phase when it has risen to twice its size.
  • Put the dough back onto the floured counter or breadboard and knead it again until it looks and feels smooth.
  • Divide the dough into 16 equal size pieces and then shape into balls (oil your hands so that the dough doesn’t stick to you).
  • Shape the pieces of dough into balls and tightly jam 8 balls into each loaf tin.
  • Cover the tins, with the dough balls inside, and leave them to rise for around 35 minutes. While the dough is rising, set the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  • Bake this for 30 minutes until golden brown.
  • When the buns are baked, pull them out and place them onto a wire rack to cool.
  • Glaze the buns immediately with your sugar water and let them cool before serving them with butter and honey or syrup.

Of course, these buns are enjoyed with a cup of tea or even your favourite coffee brew. Sit back, relax, and savour the moment, because they won’t be around for too long. Grab your share while you can!

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