My experiments with yeast so far have not been brilliant, except for my pizza dough which, I believe, is quite foolproof. My fear of yeast keeps me from baking bread more often that I would have liked. But thankfully I’ve started to conquer that. All thanks to my refusal to admit defeat and my steady success with yeast fermentation 🙂
I was quite ecstatic [almost jumping with joy] when my macatias turn out soft and fluffy and the closest to perfection I’ve achieved in recent times. Wikipedia attributes the origin of macatia to our neighbour île de La Réunion. I guess Mauritians borrowed the recipe and added the characteristic coconut filling renaming it as macatia coco.
We used to have a marsan macatia[macatia seller] who would come at full speed on his old motorcycle, shouting ‘maaacatiaaaa cocooooooo’ as loud as he could so that his voice got carried several blocks away. You could always hear him coming and thus had time to grab a Rs5 coin and a plate before he finally came up to your door. If you were a regular, the marsan would slow down [or stop] near your house while blowing his bike horn for all it’s worth.
Our local marsan no longer does his daily 14:00 to 15:00 rounds. We have another one who comes on and off but his macatia coco lacks that special something. I therefore decided to give the famous sweet bun a try after I found a recipe on Recipes from Mauritius. It yielded dense floury chunks of cooked dough that went stale within hours. What wentwrong with the process of yeast multiplication? I had no idea since I was still teaching myself how to grow the fungus. You simply have to keep it from dying before it gives enough rise to your breads and buns, that is during proving.
But dnt worry. It’s all very scientific. You simply have to get your type of yeast and working temperatures right. Read more about yeast in baking here, here and here. Hope they help you get your macatias right. It sure inspires me to foray further into bread baking 😉
Btw my macatia coco also had the stamp of approval of the family since half of my lil coconut filled sweet buns were gone within minutes of being out of the oven. I therefore [enthusiatically] encourage you to give this a try. The recipe is a really old one I wrote down in my high school days and I’m sorry to be unable to provide a source for it. Only wish I had tried it well before!
3 1/2 cups all purpose or bread flour
1 sachet [10g] instant yeast
1 cup lukewarm water
3 tbs milk powder
3 tbs unsalted butter
2 tbs granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup dessicated coconut
Take 1 part boiling water and 3 parts tap water to make 1 cup. This would roughly equal the temperature of lukewarm water.
Dissolve milk powder in this water and stir in butter until it melts.
In a large bowl, place 1/4 cup lukewarm water [make it as in step1]. Stir in sugar and yeast. Cover and set aside for 15 minutes until frothy.
I used a sachet of Anchor Instant Yeast which worked beautifully.
Then add milk-butter mixture and salt to yeast suspension.
Gradually add flour to yeast mixture, 1/2 cup at a time.
Fold in until you have a loose sticky ball of dough.
Turn dough onto floured surface and knead well for 10-15 minutes.
This may be difficult as dough is quite sticky but dnt be tempted to add more flour as it will make the resulting bread kinda tough.
Instead of adding extra flour, dust your hands with flour at regular intervals and go back to the kneading business with more energy.
It might be easier and less messy if you mix the ingredients in a dough hook mixer and do the final kneading by hand.
Dump the dough in a lightly oiled bowl [the one you used for mixing above] and cover with clingfilm or damp towel.
Forget about it for 1 1/2 hours. I left mine out in the sun today as we hardly had any wind and it proved nicely in less than an hour 🙂
By 1 1/2hours, your dough should have doubled to twice its original volume. Dump it back on your work surface and oil your palms lightly
Stretch dough into a rectangle of about 12×18 inches.
Meanwhile heat oven at 50 oC for 5 minutes, then switch off.
With a sharp knife, cut dough into 12 equal portions.
- In a small bowl, combine coconut with 2 tbs sugar and 3 tbs water.
- Place 1/2 tbs coconut filling in centre of each dough portion.
- Pinch edges together to enclose filling and gently roll into a ball.
- Place dough balls side by side on a lined baking tray.
- Keep tray in preheated oven [which should still be warm, not hot].
- Leave dough uncovered inside oven until doubled in volume.
- This takes roughly about 30 minutes and dough balls will expand and stick to each other like dinner rolls. Remove from oven.
- Set oven temperature to 350oF while you brush dough with a thin milk glaze and sprinkle with sesame seeds or chopped nuts.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until macatia coco turns golden.
- They should sound hollow when you tap them with a finger.
- Remove from pan and cool on wire rack to prevent steam from condensing at the bottom and making them ugly and soggy.
- Serve warm with a dollop of butter at tea time.
I stored them individually wrapped in clingfilm and packed in an airtight jar. Their sugar content is rather low but I hope they keep till tomorrow’s breakfast. They are divine with a steaming cup of Corson’s Earl Grey.