Spain has elicited such an interest in recent years with rustic, regional cooking, holidays and more. Spanish cooking has never been more fashionable than it is now from tapas and paella but apart from these handfuls of dishes many well-known dishes still remain relatively unknown to the average cook and traveller. The food here is based on a modern take on grandmas cooking drawn on flavours of memory with deep, traditional roots.
Traditional Spanish cooking is flavourful and frugal, each region distinct and blessed with an abundance of riches based on the ever-changing landscape according to the seasons. Andalusia especially is dominated with arid, dry hills of red soil covered with blossomed olive groves as far as the eye can see and so the olive oil is used as a base to cooking, incorporated in sweet and savoury dishes.
Granada is special, a typical yet historical city of Andalusia, especially during Holy Week, plentiful in swaying palm and olive trees, awakening to the first beats of the drums which inaugurates the atmosphere of crowds drawn to narrow winding streets, the smell of baked desserts with Moorish spices and the sweetness of sherry creating countless delicacies. A favourite delicacy for me is the Semana Santa Roscos, little baked doughnuts with wine, orange juice, anise seeds and sugar. The varieties are endless but all of these wonderful sweets are unleashed with the right olive oil adding true potential and sparkle to a celebrated dessert.
This Holy week I was invited to watch and learn how Semana Santa Roscos are made. What I learnt was something similar to my grandmother’s way of cooking principles; a few high-quality ingredients otherwise known as raw materials presented with additional components to release full flavour and sensory satisfaction. Like all recipes, this recipe was adapted to personal tastes for the cook as passed down from her mother.
Makes about 20-25 mini roscos
250 grams plain flour
100 ml extra virgin olive oil
63 ml sweet red, white wine or sherry
63 grams white sugar
8 grams anise seeds
Zest of one lemon
½ teaspoon cinnamon powder
10 grams toasted sesame seeds
Generous amount of icing sugar for coating
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl and add the olive oil and mix using a wooden spoon.
Add the remaining ingredients (wine or sherry, lemon zest, anise seed, sugar, sesame seeds and cinnamon) and mix thoroughly until well combined.
Once it’s well mixed into a soft dough, take a heaped tablespoon and form mini doughnuts around the index finger and place onto a flat baking tray.
Place the tray into the oven and bake for approximately 20-25 minutes until firm on the outside and soft on the inside and set aside to cool for about 10 minutes. (the roscos will harden further upon cooling).
After 10 minutes, generously coat the roscos in icing sugar until it resembles fluffy white clouds and serve with a generous cup of coffee.