Nothing reminds Saffas of home more than the smell of freshly baked mosbolletjies. The delectable aroma of freshly baked mosbolletjies infused with aniseed and topped with sweet castor sugar glaze is a favourite in every South African home. For Saffas living abroad, mosbolletjies are the ultimate taste of home! So, where do they come from, and can you bake your own mosbolletjie recipe at home?
Mosbolletjies by another name
While many of us have enjoyed the delicious taste of mosbolletjies growing up, you may know them as mosbolletjie rusks. Traditionally, mosbolletjie buns are dried into rusks and enjoyed with copious cups of tea or coffee. Who hasn’t enjoyed the sweet taste of a crunchy Ouma rusk? However, you may also know them as ‘sweet buns’ or ‘must buns.’ If you have never tasted a mosbolletjie, the best way to describe them is similar to brioche, a soft, sweet bread of French origin.
‘n Klein stukkie mosbolletjie history
Mosbolletjies are deeply entrenched in South African history and can be traced as far back as 1688, when the French Huguenots first landed on our shores. Traditionally made during the wine harvest using leftover ‘grape must,’ the mosbolletjies recipe has been enjoyed for many years.
‘Grape must’ is leftover grape juice from wine production containing the grapes’ stems, skin, and seeds. This juice was used as the ‘yeast’ or leavening agent and added to the dough to make mosbolletjies. While traditional recipes require fermented grapes or raisins, nowadays, modern recipes simply use yeast as a shortcut.
Condensed milk vs. milk
Another key ingredient to making tasty mosbolletjies is condensed milk. This thick syrup is made from cow’s milk that has had the water removed. It’s often sweetened and is an excellent milk alternative when baking or making desserts. In addition, the extremely long shelf life made it very popular amongst soldiers during the First World War. Mosbolletjies with condensed milk combines the sweetness of sugar and the benefits of milk without adding too much liquid to the mosbolletjie recipe.
If like us, all this talk of delicious mosbolletjies has you eagerly heading to the kitchen for a massive baking session, you are not alone! Check out our favourite traditional mosbolletjies recipe, Gordon Ramsay; move over!
Mosbolletjies with condensed milk
Makes 3 large mosbolletjie loaves
What you need
- 320 g sugar
- 250 g salted butter
- 1 tin condensed milk
- 2.5 kg cake flour
- 5 eggs
- 15 ml salt
- 1-liter warm water
- 50 g aniseeds (optional)
- 30 g instant yeast
- 80 g sugar
- 50 ml water
Add the sugar to the water, stirring until completely dissolved. Then bring the mixture to a boil for approximately three minutes.
What to do
- Cream the butter, sugar, and condensed milk using an electric beater.
- Add the eggs to the mixture, adding one egg at a time; beat the mixture well after each egg is added.
- In a second mixing bowl, sift the yeast, cake flour, and salt together. Add the aniseeds and gently stir the dry ingredients to distribute the seeds evenly.
- Then add the warm water to the buttery egg mixture, stirring thoroughly. Add this mixture to the dry ingredients and knead it into a dough.
- Add a drop of oil to a large, clean mixing bowl and, using a paper towel, spread the oil, covering the base and sides of the bowl well.
- Place your dough into the large oiled bowl and cover with clingfilm.
- Place the bowl containing the dough in a warm spot where the dough can prove (rise)
- Once the dough has increased to at least double its size, it’s time to make the mosbolletjie balls!
- Place the dough on a clean, flour-dusted surface and knead it gently. Then, take dough pieces and shape them into golf ball-sized balls.
- Grease three large bread tins and pack the mosbolletjie balls into each of them. Pack the balls tightly into the bread tins and leave them to rise again. Once the balls have doubled in size, it’s time to bake the mosbolletjies.
- Heat the oven to 180 C and bake the mosbolletjies for 10 minutes.
- After the first ten minutes, adjust the oven temperature to 160 C and bake for a further 20 minutes.
- Once cooked, the mosbolletjies should be a delicious golden-brown colour.
- Use oven gloves to remove the tins from the oven. Next, take a basting brush and brush the loaves with the sugar glaze while the loaves are still warm.
- Allow the loaves to cool slightly before removing the loaves from the bread tins.
Break the balls apart and serve with butter and grated cheese or jam for a delicious afternoon treat! Alternatively, serve your mosbolletjies with a helping of pickled fish for a truly traditional feast!
The last mosbolletjie crumb
If you prefer mosbolletjie rusks, follow the above recipe instructions and allow the balls to dry out further. To do this, you need to place the balls onto a large baking tray and return to the oven for four hours at 80 C. Then allow to cool thoroughly before dipping your mosbolletjies into your favourite hot beverage!
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