Easter weekend saw a frankly obscene fry-fest at my mum's house, where my grandma made a family favourite - puri bateta (fried puffy breads, potato curry and a spicy salsa) - and my mum and I made three different kinds of doughnuts! She made mini bitesized ones with nutmeg and orange blossom in the dough, rolled in cinnamon sugar.
I made awesome buttery, soft custard-filled ones dusted in icing sugar and my take on an Tanzanian breakfast staple - mandazi. These not-at-all sweet puppies are made with a coconut and cardamom dough, and they puff up and split inside - ending up almost like pockets rather than balls of dough.
They're usually eaten in the morning with a gungo pea and coconut curry called barazi. I don't really enjoy that combo but the two components are individually two of my favourite foods from the motherland. The barazi I eat with rice, and the mandazi just need a cup of tea or two!
The mandazi were far and away everyone's favourite on the fry-day bonanza, and they were SO easy to make - seemed like the perfect recipe to share!
They aren't all that sweet but resist the urge to coat them in sugar or you will obliterate the subtle coconut and cardamom flavour. They're amazing fresh but keep for a couple of days if you store them air tight and even better refreshed for a few minutes in a hot oven to get back that pillowy soft texture.
Recipe (Makes around 30-40 mini doughnuts)
200g bread flour
250g plain flour - plus extra for rolling out
12g fresh yeast
55g unrefined cane sugar
1.5 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cardamom
0.5 tsp ground cinnamon
200-250g full fat coconut milk (take care to buy organic / sulphite free coconut milk - check what, if any, stabiliser is used. Ideally find a brand that uses guar gum or no stabiliser at all, and look for highest coconut content you can find)
Rapeseed oil for frying (or another suitable oil with a high smoke point)
1. Put the flours into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Rub in the yeast. Add the sugar, salt and spices, then mix to combine.
2. Add the egg and most of the coconut milk, start the mixer on low speed and leave it to combine the dough until no wet patches remain. You may want to add more coconut milk - you want quite a sticky dough, but not a sloppy or wet one.
3. Mix on a low-medium speed for 7-8 minutes until the dough is smooth and no longer sticking to the bowl. You can check for gluten development by taking a small bit of dough and stretching it out with your fingers gently to see how thin you can stretch it before it breaks. If it stretches thin enough to show the light through it without breaking then you have pretty close to maximum gluten development and you should stop mixing. This is called the window-pane test.
4. Put the dough into a large container or bowl, cover and leave in the fridge for 12-18 hours to rise slowly.
5. When you're ready to make the doughnuts, roll out the dough on a floured surface until it's 3-4mm thick and then cut out. Traditionally they're made from large circles which are cut into quarters. You can make them whatever shape you want, really. Here we used a 100mm cutter and cut each round into quarters. Leave them on a well floured surface or batches on pieces of baking paper - they will be fragile when ready to cook so the less they need to be handled the better.
6. Once you've cut all the dough, cover with oiled clingfilm and leave to rise until they puff up, almost double in size and they feel soft, light and pillowy to touch.
7. Heat up your oil in a deep fryer or large pan filled no more than two thirds full. Heat to 190C. Fry the mandazi in batches for a couple of minutes on each side. They will puff and go a lovely deep brown colour. Drain on kitchen towel and enjoy warm!