The sky is overcast, a chilly wind rustles through the leaves and there’s a storm warning on the horizon. 

Needless to say all I’m interested in is hunkering down and baking something warmingly aromatic. Since this wonderful time of year (Autumn) coincides with harvest season here in the Cape, a batch of mosbolletjies are in order. 

Fortunately I was gifted the wherewithal to make this traditional South African loaf by the good folks over at La Motte wine estate in Franschhoek. Using grape must (mos) as the raising agent, making mosbolletjies from scratch is truly a labour of love; albeit one that yields a great reward – especially when enjoyed steaming hot from the oven and spread with a liberal amount of salted farm butter. 
My personal favourite part of mosbolletjie-making is the lingering scent of aniseed infusing the house with its comforting embrace long after the loaf has been eagerly consumed. 

Without further ado, here is La Motte’s time-treasured recipe for proper South African mosbolletjies. I discovered that this recipe does make about 3-4 small to medium-sized loaves but I’ve frozen the remaining loaves to make them into a bread and butter pudding to enjoy mid-winter.


Yeast starter:

  • 500ml fresh active grape must, at room temperature
  • 2 cups cake flour


  • 2.5kg cake flour
  • 250g salted butter, at room temperature
  • 2.5 cups sugar
  • 7.5ml salt
  • 15ml aniseed (I used about 20ml as I love aniseed)
  • Enough warm water or milk to create a firm dough


To make the starter, stir the flour into the grape must, creating a lump-free paste. Transfer the paste into a glass or plastic container and cover with clingfilm. Leave the starter in a warm spot to rise – this takes about 3 to 4 hours.

For the loaf recipe, combine the 2.5kgs flour, sugar, salt and aniseed together. Add the must starter and enough warm water or milk to create a firm dough – the secret is in the kneading process. The dough requires a lot of patience and strength as it needs to be even and smooth with no air bubbles.

Once the dough is ready, place it into a large bowl and cover with clingfilm. Leave the bowl in a warm spot to rise for 4 to 5 hours or overnight.

Once risen, gently knock down the dough without kneading it. Grease two to three loaf pans with butter. With floured hands, form small balls and arrange them in the loaf pans. In a small bowl, whisk together two egg yolks with a teaspoon of sugar and a little milk. Brush the top of the loaves with the egg mixture and leave the loaves to rise for a few minutes. Bake the mosbolletjies in a pre-heated 180°C oven for an hour exactly.

Leave the loaves to cool slightly before turning out and enjoying with lashings of farm butter.


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