Mosbolletjies, either fresh with butter or dried into rusks called Mosbeskuit are a firm South African favourite.
Mosbolletjies were initially introduced into South Africa by the French Huguenots who left their home country to escape religious persecution. They settled in Franschoek in 1688.
During wine making season they used must or mos, which is grape juice in the first stage of fermentation before straining for wine, to act as a rising agent for the dough used to make the buns.
Nowadays, since mos is generally unavailable, yeast made from fermenting raisins is used to make the mosbolletjies.
Active dry yeast is often added to speed up the fermentation process. However, in my opinion, this defeats the entire reason for making the raisin yeast, you may just as well use only active yeast in which case you won't have mosbolletjies
Although the recipe is a little time consuming and appears somewhat complex the end result is well worth the effort to make these mosbolletjies.
Mosbolletjie and Mosbeskuit Ingredients
For the Raisin Yeast
510g (1lb 2oz) raisins (do not use seedless raisins, the seeds are required and will later be removed)
litres (6cups) water.
30g (1oz) granulated sugar
500g (1lb 2oz) bread flour
For the Mosbolletjie/Mosbeskuit Buns
500g (1lb 2oz) Butter or Margarine
4½kg (10lb) cake flour
800g (1lb 12oz) granulated white sugar
10ml (2tsp) salt
30ml (2Tblsp) aniseed
For the Glaze
2 egg yolks
30ml (2Tblsp) sugar
125ml (½ cup) hot milk
To make the yeast for the Mosbolletjies and Mosbeskuit
Chop the raisins and then crush them using the back of a spoon.
Add the crushed raisins to the water in a saucepan bring to the boil and continue boiling for 12 to 15 minutes.
Cool the water until it is lukewarm to the touch then add the sugar, stirring to dissolve. Pour the resultant mixture into a glass or ceramic bowl, cover it and put in a warm place until the raisins rise to the top of the liquid, this should take anything from 20 to 40 hours.
Stain the mixture preferably through a piece of cheesecloth which has been wet and then wrung out. Mix in the bread flour making sure it is smooth and contains no lumps.
Leave the mixture in a warm place until it becomes foamy, at this stage it is well fermented, this process should take from 3 to 4 hours.
To make the Mosbolletjies
Melt the butter or margarine over low heat and add to the yeast mixture. Sift the cake flour and salt into the mixture, add the sugar and aniseed. Mix into a stiff, pliable dough adding warm water or milk if you find this necessary to achieve the consistency.
Knead very well until it is smooth and elastic and small air bubbles have formed throughout the dough. This will take from 30 to 45 minutes.
Cover and leave in a warm place overnight, by morning it should have doubled in size.
Do not knock down or knead the dough but make small balls of sufficient size to reach half way up the sides of a bread tin.
Pack the balls into greased bread tins, they should be tightly packed as any further rising of the dough should be in an upwards and not sideways direction. You will need about 8 to 10 500g/1lb loaf tins. Place the bread tins containing the mosbolletjies in a warm place and leave until they double in height.
Preheat the oven to 200C (400F)
Meanwhile make the glaze by beating the egg yolks with the milk and sugar, and then brush the tops of the mosbolletjies with the glaze mixture.
Place the mosbolletjies in the oven and bake for about 60 minutes until done.
Remove from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes, and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Leave the mosbolletjies in the loaves until you are ready to eat some. Then do not cut the loaves but break the buns off it. Mosbolletjies are best eaten within 2 days and should be served with butter.
To make Mosbeskuit
Break off the mosbolletjies from some of the loaves and place them in a cool oven (80C/180F) for 5 to 6 hours turning occasionally. Or leave in a warming drawer overnight to make mosbeskuit (rusks) which should be pale yellow and completely dry. Eat your mosbeskuit (rusks) dunked in coffee
Of course you do not have to make these rusks should you prefer just to eat the mosbolletjies fresh.
Should you not wish to make such a large quantity of mosbolletjies and mosbeskuit the recipe lends itself to dividing into half or even a third. The reason I make so much is it seems a pity to go through the rather lengthy process for only a few mosbolletjies and I always turn at least half into mosbeskuit (rusks) which will last for a few weeks when stored in an airtight container.